Warning: This post deviates from my usual subject matter and will be offensive to some. If it bothers you, please skip this blogpost and come back next time for more book news and romps with cats. I promise neither politics not offensive language will become the direction of this site.
Yesterday I met Krista Suh, creator of the Pussyhat Project that turned the Women’s March on Washington (and other cities) pink back in 2017. I had recently learned that some groups now consider the cat-eared knit hats to be offensive, which made me sad because they were initially such a uniting power, and also because my cousin made mine and I love her for it. When I heard Krista was coming to my neighborhood with her new book, DYI Rules for a WTF World, I decided to see what she thought about the shift in opinion.
Comfortable among the sea of women of every age, Krista, who is young, beautiful, intelligent, and enthusiastic, gave us the Pussyhat origin story: the shock of an election gone far differently from what she expected; the fear and helplessness as the irrevocable result took hold. She felt the need to do something… but what? For Krista, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope. Like many, her thoughts turned to ways of expressing her feelings among thousands of people. A protest sign? An article of clothing? As a newly-obsessive knitter who in spite of her LA heritage, knew how cold Washington DC would be January, she imagined a hat, something people could wear to show solidarity and keep their heads warm at the same time. As she explained her thought process, which she documents in her book, it made perfect sense.
In spite of its provocative name, the Pussyhat was not meant to shock but to unite. It was created for a women’s protest march after all, with the goal to promote woman-power in what can often be a misogynistic world. I loved her gentle explanation, and the stories she and others told of their experiences. One attendee said she felt stronger wearing the hat, more able to stand up for herself and others. Another talked of overhearing a mother tell her young daughter that if they got separated, to go to someone wearing the hat. Krista related the story of her plane trip back from the march seated beside a Trump supporter. The man, who wore full regalia— buttons, hat, and probably DT socks as well—had attended the inauguration. Krista and the man got along without problem, but a few other pussy-hatted fellows told Krista when she went to the washroom they were watching; that they had her back.
When we came to the Q&A part of the event, I got a chance to ask my questions:
- Was the “Pussy” designation directly related to the unfortunate and inflammatory comment once made by Donald Trump who utilized that term?
The answer was no. The name, originally the Pussy Power Hat, was alliterative in nature. It sounded, and felt, right.
- What about the rumors I hear that groups such as women of color (“Not all vaginas are pink”) and trans women (“*Not every woman has a vagina, and not every person who has a vagina is a woman”) now find the hat offensive?
Okay first of all, the color pink wasn’t chosen to represent a body part (Kristin herself is a WOC). The reason was that pink, in our current society, is generally associated with girliness, the total opposite of women power.
The second question was a little harder for Kristin to answer. She embraces the LGBTQ movement, as she does all causes that hold with unequivocal equality. My impression was that though she is saddened they chose their resentment to fall upon a symbol that has already been such a positive force, everyone has the right to protest in whatever way they feel fit.
So will I put my Pussy Hat away? I might, but probably not, since it’s soft and I love it. (I may start calling it my “mauve hat with cat ears” instead.) What I won’t put away is the memory of what the Pussy Power Hat meant to thousands of women who marched in January of 2017, nor will I discount the fact that one dedicated person can start a positive movement.
Krista is currently working on the Evil Eye Glove project for the upcoming March for Our Lives protest.
Fun point: Krista’s dad, who first was vehemently against her project, knitted her a P-hat which now travels with her wherever she goes.
*“Not every woman has a vagina, and not every person who has a vagina is a woman” is a statement made by Devin Cole, Pensacola, Florida.