Boys Don't Knit (In Public)
During my life time there has been much debate about what
interests and activities are appropriate for girls and boys. Girls
have had to fight very hard to take their rightful places in hockey
rinks and science labs. We now know that we're much more complex than
the Barbie and Ken stereotypes of the 1950s, for example, homecoming
queen and football captain. However, a lot of people who have come to
accept girls playing with toy trucks and scoring touchdowns get a
little spleeny when it comes to boys playing dress up or sewing. I
didn't understand this until I read that transgender females face more
prejudice than transgender males. As long as activities and traits
considered masculine are more highly valued that those considered
feminine (say competing over nurturing) taking on "male" interests and
identity will be moving on up while incorporating those considered
"female" will be anything but.
T. S. Easton's Boys Don't Knit (In Public) takes a perceptive
look at this issue. Ben Fletcher (17) is on probation for an incident
involving shoplifted alcohol and a lollipop lady (school crossing
guard). One of the terms of his probation is the keeping of a
journal. This becomes the delightful format through which we get to
see the world through his eyes.
A second term is "giving something back" to the victim of his
actions: the lollipop lady, Mrs. Frensham. This turns out to be much
easier said than done. The person who was supposed to cue her in
failed to do so. On his first visit she throws household items at him
through an upstairs window.
A third term is "involvement in some suitable extracurricular
activity." He is sent a list of open community college offerings. The
only one he doesn't have a reason to avoid is knitting. Much to his
surprise he has a lot of natural talent. Even more surprisingly, he
really enjoys it and soon goes way beyond class in his new found
interest. It helps him cope with the stresses in his life, ranging
from his family life to the friends who have a propensity to get him
There's a major problem though. The kids who go to school with
Ben, especially the bullies who keep starting incidents, will think
there's somethhing very wrong with him if news of his new hobby gets
out. His father thinks anything sewing related is what no real man
would ever do.
On a personal note, there's one way in which I'm very much like Ben.
In the book he gets to the point where he designs his own patterns. I
knit and crochet with yarn from thrift shops and yard sales, projects
other people gave up on, and damaged items. I see what I can do with
what I have. My favorite piece is a rainbow afghan I crocheted. I
carry around a crafts bag and pull out my creation du jour whenever I
have a few minutes. This year I designed my very first counted cross
stitch piece and I hope to do a lot more.
A great big shout out goes out to my fellow needle artists. Long may
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod