Bohus · Knitting

Feminine, not Feminist

In the year 1960, a Swedish designer named Karin Ivarsson, working for Bohus Stickning,  designed the beautiful Large Lace Collar sweater.  In the same year, thousands of miles away, a 27-year-old Tupelo native gave birth to her sixth child and fourth daughter.  Fifty-one years later,  that little girl welcomed the opportunity to keep the Bohus legend alive by recreating Karin’s design.

The central attraction of the Large Lace Collar for that little girl– who later turned out to be me– is the extreme femininity of it.  While we know, historically speaking, that men have worn lace at times, it is with women that lace is normally associated.  Lace doilies, lace tablecloths, lace curtains, lace cuffs and socks and lingerie.  Show me a woman who does not love lace and I will show you a woman who does not value her femininity. 

Today is International Woman’s Day, and I know that “they” say it is about feminists.  I disagree.  Speaking with my European friends, male and female alike, they acknowledge the day as one to pamper their women, no matter their age; to express their love and appreciation; to shower them with gifts and affection.

Am I a feminist?  Not on your life.  I appreciate the differences between men and women.  I like being a woman.  I do not want to be treated equally in all situations.  Yes, I want to get paid the same for my work as if a man did the same work (and I am).  Yes, I want all women to be treated fairly and with respect.  But no, I don’t want men to have to include women in their clubs, their sports, and the like.  And as a woman I don’t want to be expected to include men in certain activities.  I don’t want my daughter to have to compete physically with humans sporting three times her strength.  I believe that feminism in America has done almost as much damage as good.  I believe that the fight for womens rights went too far, and now our children find themselves without fulltime mothers, households can’t get by without two incomes, women can’t be women and men can’t be men.  You can disagree with me, but that is how I feel.  It might not ultimately be logical, but that is how I feel.  And by the way, this has nothing to do with religious beliefs, should I have any.

I want to thank Karin Ivarsson for designing a sweater that says “feminine” in a million different languages and “feminist” in none.  At the same time, I want to acknowledge the knitters of Bohus, who contributed money to their households when their husbands were losing their jobs in the quarries, but who did not sacrifice their sacred place as mothers and wives in the bargain.

I also want to thank Solveig Gustaffson for keeping the Bohus colors alive, and Susanna Hansson for her translations so that we who do not speak Swedish can enjoy the process of knitting a Bohus design.

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