Written by Cath Janes

Lifestyle

Pink pounding

Crafter Cath Janes is sick of hearing the words “pink sells”. Here’s what happened when she questioned it.

Cath's colourful glasses cases. Rose-tinted spectacles not included.

Cath’s colourful glasses cases. Rose-tinted spectacles not included.

When I started my fabric home decor business, it was in response to the high street’s obsession with offering women ditsy, floral, vintage pink. I was bloody desperate to see women offered bright colours, geometric prints and graphic fabrics.

So when I entered the world of online crafting groups I expected to find thousands of women who were being equally original, colourful, inspirational and exciting.

What did I really find though? More bloody pink. Worse, I found myself being called an “evil feminist” by some of these women for questioning it.

I’ve lost track of the groups I’ve stopped bothering with because of their inability to accept that women like colours other than pink. It’s horrifying, disheartening and disappointing, not least because women who craft have the power to change so much.

Instead, though, so many of them insist on sticking to the stereotypes. Scroll through the images in many craft groups and you’ll see so much pink wool and fabric that you’ll think you’ve broken your own eyes.

Pink Scrabble art, pink crocheted blankets, pink bows, pink bags, even drinking glasses and wine bottles covered in pink glitter (excuse me for a moment while I gag). And you know what really makes me retch? That many of these groups are almost exclusively run by women for women.

It seems that sexism is now so ingrained in our culture that the victims of it are suffering a kind of Stockholm syndrome. When I was called an “evil feminist” in one group it wasn’t because I’d joined Fenem and kept posting tit pics. It was because I’d questioned the use of the term ‘girly’.

I left yet another group, one whose female members were happy to show pictures of their mugs and badges with the word ‘cunt’ on them but they weren’t happy that I created pieces asking for equal rights.

colourful buntingWhat I don’t understand is the animosity that I’ve seen shown towards those of us who DO want to end these stereotypes. It’s not universal by any means and there are crafting groups in which I showcase my screeching orange and green striped totes alongside the pastel pinks of others without a single huff of criticism.

I have seen that all change in an instant, though, when the F-bomb is used, and an argument about whether pink really needs to be the colour of women quickly escalates until the word ‘feminist’ is used in conjunction with such words as bitch, cunt, cow, man-hater and, yes, evil.

“I know the arguments. I know that many female crafters produce pink items because pink sells, even though pink sells because it’s the only thing that’s offered to women in the first place.”

You may think all of that pink wool means that female crafters are giant softies but don’t be fooled. I’ve had abuse in crafting groups that would make mansplaining Twitter trolls doff their caps.

It’s astounding enough to join an online group to find your use of, say, green, makes you stand out like Jeremy Corbyn at Eton. But to find the women in them actively discouraging women who don’t like pink? Now THAT’s a problem because it stops those women who are tentatively trying something new from even bothering. And to discourage anything new or different is surely the antithesis of creativity.

blue printed gift setI know the arguments. I know that many female crafters produce pink items because pink sells (even though pink sells because it’s the only thing that’s offered to women in the first place). I also know that many women genuinely think that pink is a female colour because they have been told as much for so long. I’ve also seen how women sell pink because, well, that’s what women do isn’t it?

It really can be as unquestioning as that. And add to that the pressure of paying the mortgage and, on the surface at least, it’s a no-brainer for female crafters to make pink products and aim them at women.

Just think for a second about how damaging this is. If I sound angry and bitter it’s because I am. In fact I’m fucking furious, because some of these all-women groups can be as hostile as any group of feminist-hating men and it’s wrong and it’s ugly. When I launched my business I honestly thought that I was joining a world where crafty women were at the vanguard of modernity and progressiveness. In many cases, I was wrong.

If crafting wants to keep on enjoying its renaissance and if women want to achieve equality then these online groups have to change. Until they do, get used to those pink, glittery wine glasses. You’re going to be seeing a lot of them.

@KrakenKreations

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Written by Cath Janes

Cath Janes is the brains and stabbed fingers behind Kraken Kreations, which sells shouty, hand-sewn home decor and accessories for modern women. She also sews feminist and anatomical embroidery, dances in her sewing shed and once had a snapped sewing machine needle embedded in her right tit.