Sunday, May 17, 2009

More ponderings: Queer and craft

It's been a few weeks since my original post about diversity in craft debuted. I have to admit that I'm disappointed; not that I had any expectations, necessarily, because I think it's a common occurrence for oppressed groups to not have any faith in the oppressor to do much of anything with what they learn. That was actually the hardest lesson for me when I was navigating the highways and byways of anti-oppression, prejudice reduction work as it related to race. I was pissed off because no one was congratulating me, as our society has always congratulated people for doing what they were supposed to do. Where were my back pats? Back to the point, I'm disappointed that the only people I've really heard from are the people for whom I am speaking, more or less. Not a word from the people who can really do the work to change this.

To be honest, I know I have a lot more work to do if I'd like to see more come of this, because it's not just about people seeing me, what I'm doing and what I'm capable of as it relates to craft. I need to start seeing everything that isn't me too, and uplifting the people responsible for that work. It's hard though; I've spent innumerable hours scanning through websites like Etsy trying to find POC/WOC, queer people, fat folks, differently abled folks...to little avail. There are Etsy Street Teams, for example, for international regions/countries, and a small handful of identity-oriented teams (Bebot/Pinay Team, Muslims of Etsy, Spanglish Team, Queer Etsy Street Team, etc.).

The format of these sites is what prevents us from exposure, in many ways, as we are selling what we make versus who we are. In the case of my shop, while I may not look or feel like a felt ball, every second of work I put into my jewelry is a representation of me, my queerness, my womanhood, my femininity (or lack thereof). Which is why I said what I did about queer artists, for example, being queer and crafting queer but not necessarily coating our merchandise in glitter and rainbows. We are marginally that, we aren't that at all, or we are trying to transcend it. Craft is about countering the mainstream in so many ways, isn't it?

In my personal case, this whole "Queering Domesticity" thing is not a joke, or an overstatement, or an embellishment to attract visitors to my blog or my crafty shop. It is, in fact, my reality. It is not, in fact, a novelty. I often hear folks talk about this idyllic land with ponies and flowers, where we are not defined by what we are, but by who we are, and where labels like Gay or Disabled or Fat or Black don't mean anything, or mean less because everything is accepted and loved, rendering diversity invisible. Ok, go read that again. Now ask yourself this question...DO YOU HONESTLY THINK THAT WOULD BE FUN, nevermind realistic?!

I've found myself reading craft blogs, including Etsy pieces, with a critical and scrupulous eye. I am just waiting, bracing myself, for the reality that instead of being considered, I will be criticized for pointing something out that doesn't matter, or that has been adequately covered in the eyes of people who don't experience what I experience on a daily basis. I'm poised to have my entire reality downplayed by people who haven't walked a second in my shoes, and it simultaneously enrages and hurts me, deeply. No one, especially crafters who fit into the boxes delineated by the concept of diversity, should be ignored or fear hearing that their voice isn't appreciated or marginally motivational. The celebration of the uniqueness of the craft movement, which is visibly dominated by women, does not stop now that "feminist" has been checked off the to-do list. We have a lot of work to do. Yes, we. There is no room to be uninvolved or apolitical when the happiness and security of other people is up in the air.

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