The Pussyhat Movement – a Very Analogue, and a Very Digital Movement

Imagine using knitting needles and yarn and a shared song to manifest women’s rights…

The “Pussyhat” movement started in the US in late November last year, in response to Donald Trump’s infamous statement “Grab them by the pussy” during the election campaign. During the Women’s March – a protest demonstration in Washington, days after Trump installed as president – was the hat a symbol of the movement.

Photo: Reuters- Shannon Stapleton

When Donald Trump was sworn in as US president in January 2017, millions of women across the country went to the streets to demonstrate. On pictures from Washington thousands of them appeared wearing pink hats.

The American woman, Krista Suh was behind the idea of a “pussy hat” and after the march in Washington the knitted hats has spread worldwide through social media as a symbol of feminist resistance.

It is something of a paradox that an ancient female handicraft like knitting (often downgraded) has become a strong symbol for women’s rights. In the encounter with social media in the modern digital world the force in the knitted hats becomes exciting. And what’s behind the success is just simple technology. Historically, there are numerous examples of how different types of craft spirit had roles in protest movements and manifestations, and textiles is the most common protest material. Now, the pattern for the pussy-hat is free and is now widely available online. On YouTube there are lots of instructional videos to different types of craft spirit, enabling people to – with quite little material- create powerful visual tools of protest. This- very much thanks to the sharing approach.[1]

The Pussyhat could be described as “Culture Jamming”, a genre of media activism building up as a response to popular culture, where activists use and transform culture artifacts in order to make ironic, subversive and alternative meanings[2]

The movement has spread out into the world, and now is the pink hat a broader symbol.

“This is about women’s rights and human rights, and it extends well beyond a single politician,” says Jayna Zweiman in the Swedish Radio program “Kulturnytt”.[3] In the same program Johanna Rosenqvist, lecturer in craft art theory and history at the College of Arts and lecturer in art history at Linnaeus University explains that the impact of a movement  because  the craft is accessible to so many.

Although the manifestation, conducted on several places around the world, just lasted for a short while, it has started a whole movement. A few stitches knitted by thousands of people are on the way to become a great piece of activist art.

Photo: Voice of America – Brian Allen

 

 

[1] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/gruppsida.aspx?programid=3980&grupp=13015

[2] Lievrouw, Leah. A. 2011, “Alternative and Activist New Media”. Polity Press. Pages 22-23

[3] http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=478&artikel=6645222

[4] https://www.pussyhatproject.com/

 

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