The Quilt Scout is … Talking About the ‘F’ Word?!

posted in: The Quilt Scout 15
A pin. Image: Wikipedia.




Remember when I did that survey this winter for a big paper I had to write? It was about quilters and feminism.

The survey wasn’t out to get data to support a point I wished to make. I didn’t want to make any kind of point — I just had questions. Almost without exception, zero quilters I have in classes or meet out there on the road talk about feminism. How come? What’s the deal about quilts being inherently “feminist” objects? Is that true? And what is feminism, anyway? I don’t know how you feel about it, but I think the best thing ever is to realize you’re interested something and then going after knowledge on the topic. So that’s what I did.

Maybe someday I’ll share my big, honkin’ paper on the topic, but it is very big and honks very loudly, which means it has a long bibliography. For a distillation of it, though, you can read my most recent Quilt Scout column! See? I take care of you.

Indeed, I do hope you do click this link and go read it. I think you’ll be surprised to see what I’ve been thinking about Oh, and the results of my survey aren’t included in the column, but here’s how all that shook out:

Are you a feminist? 
62% = yes
27% = no
11% = maybe

*Note: One of my two lectures at QuiltCon 2019 is a lecture on this topic! Wow! Bad idea, but let’s go for it! 

15 Responses

  1. Mary Says Sew!
    | Reply

    I’ve was asked in an interview if quilts are Art or craft. My answer was, and still is, “Who cares?”

    I don’t care. Designating an item or an act as Art or craft is irrelevant to me.

    I make quilts because it makes me happy. Period.

  2. Kerry
    | Reply

    Very interesting post – strange thing isn’t it! Rebellions come and go but quilts have that staying power. Perhaps they became wall hangings as a way to preserve a treasured family heirloom. Or maybe in the tradition of the wealthy and hanging tapestries in draughty old castles and manor houses – quilts covered sneaky gaps in log cabin walls in really nasty winters all those years ago. Then, not only did they add protection from the outside elements, they added something nice to look at, although they were probably not the best quilts but rather makeshift fabrics of all kinds mashed together – now could that have been classed as contemporary nowadays?

  3. Karen Stuhlfeier
    | Reply

    This quilter certainly talks about feminism and knows what it is. I don’t like what you said about the topic at all.

  4. Annette Snyder
    | Reply

    Mary, once I’ve made my morning coffee, I’ll click the link and read what you have to offer. But don’t you think being a feminist is setting the bar to low? I mean, Lord knows we are still fighting for equality and women’s rights. But the term, and by extension the ideal, implies segmentation and division at a time when the world needs unity and equality, a united equality, if you will. I prefer the term and ideals of being a humanist, because it is not just women who deserve and require equality, but all factions of humanity who suffer from inequality. Feminism is an aging term and ideal. Think bigger! So, I believe quilting is inherently human, as opposed to feminine. Count me a humanist!

  5. Cheryl
    | Reply

    Excellent article. Now I want to read Susan Bernick’s book!

  6. Helen Marie
    | Reply

    Wow! I sure do wish you had come to our LQG retreat a few weeks ago. With your powers of observation, you’d have had lots to write about in terms of discussion on feminism — and white privilege and the question of ethics and integrity in governance (though we were told by the most conservative- speaking among us who, by the way, hires illegal immigrants because they are so hard working and honest, that we should not discuss politics) among a group of (all white) women over 50 (sorry there may have been one in her 40’s) OMG I can’t believe I wrote all that and if Stephanie, Ruth, Carol O, Carol S, Rose, Diane, Nancy, Jean…are reading this…oy! I love it that my other two guilds are WOKE and diverse as heck and we can talk about literally anything without the pursed lips (though eye rolls can be accommodated).

  7. Beth Ann
    | Reply

    I am one of the 62% who claim to be feminist.

    It is true I don’t talk about it much in quilt classes. Generally, I believe I am surrounded by like minded folks in class. And truthfully, I would not want to know if any of my quilting friends thought otherwise — I might find it harder to get along!

    We all enjoy our art, support each other, and have a good time in class. Since most of my quilting buddies are of the age that started the modern public face of feminism, I am happy (and most likely correct) in my belief that they support feminism.

  8. Georgia O'Neal
    | Reply

    I am a quilter but more importantly – I am a humanist – we are more alike than we are different – thank you Maya Angelou

  9. Mary Spriet
    | Reply

    What is feminism exactly? Why can’t people just be? Why does everything have to have a label? Are you an artist or a craftsperson? I am a women who quilts, has her own quilting business, contributes to the household, nurtures her family, involved in the community. I do as I please, my husband respects my intelligence & opinions. My family will always come first. So what am I? Who cares? I am what I am.

    • Mary Dusenberry
      | Reply


  10. Marilyn Jackson
    | Reply

    Mary, I admire you, but if you were 20 years older, you’d know what your own answer would be. If it weren’t for women who are now 50-plus, 60-plus, 70-plus and 80-plus, all feminists whether or not they now identify as such, you would not be able to have the career you now have. Ask your mother!

    • Helen Marie
      | Reply

      INDEED! We marched back in the 70’s so our daughters and sons could be what they are today.

  11. Jess Irwin
    | Reply

    Proud feminist here. I got to the bit in your column about the man’s photo being included to add legitimacy and my blood just starts to BOIL. You are so right! This happens in SO many industries, mine included. Even today, with all the progress we have made, a project is not seen as a legitimate or worthwhile enterprise until a man is part of it. If it’s just women, then… well, it’s just an idea, or a hobby, or housework. It’s seen as somehow “less.” Women’s art was not art until men started copying it, describing it, taking it as their own. Unfortunately, we women are also part of this culture, and we often have the same bias. This comment is turning into a treatise, so I will just say thank you for writing about this! I sincerely hope I can attend your QuiltCon lecture!

    (But this topic does make me want to say other f-word A LOT.)

  12. Wend
    | Reply

    Mary, I love Quiltfolk. I love quilting, quilters, fabric, lovely old and new gadgets, and books! I love heartfelt stories about hats. I love men, I love women. I love people who are like me and I love people who are not like me, truly. I have so many interests, affections, and opinions! I do appreciate you engaging us, your readers/hopefully friends. You throw it out here, we nibble on it, or take a big bite.
    I have to admit, it’s good to talk about important things, such as how we all fit in this big ol’ world. It discourages me when I read other comments that offer, “well, if I really knew someone’s else’s opinions I’d probably not get along with them so much.”
    But they DO get along with them already! Do you see? They already share love, interest, most likely laughter, maybe current fears and possibly some past experiences.
    I’m on a quest to see people how I’d like to be seen. I long for people to have the comfort to talk honestly and comfortably, even if ideas or understandings differ.
    I do not discount history, where people of certain sex, or different origins have and continue to have challenges and accomplishments. It’s all a part of our evolving story of life. I am trying not to blame, but listen. I’m trying not to judge but gather information and observe..sometimes I fail.
    I happen to be female, but there so much more to my experience with all these other people out here alongside me…and their story too.
    I believe you are getting closer to a much bigger question than feminism..or multiple ones…….at least I hope so.

  13. Louise Elizabeth
    | Reply

    I never wondered about this but then two of my granddaughters are proud of me for being one! Wow and wow again.
    I helped start and worked at a Family Planning Clinic. After 10 years I burned out, went back to college got another
    degree in business. Graduated and had a job I loved until I had an accident and was disabled. I love the fiber arts in all of it’s myriad forms. This keeps me off the streets and out of bars and I pat myself on the back because I know that I will be dead and gone before I run out of my quilting and needlepoint stashes. I still believe that women should control their own bodies. YES! And the younger generations had better keep fighting for this. My worry today is about designing a quilt for my first great-grandbaby. Folks lives are fascinating! I’ve got a lot of listening and reading left to do. AND stitching and . . . ? I love QuiltFolk. ((((-: (Don’t know how to do a cool “f”.) I stand with all survivors of sexual assaults for I am one also. #MeToo!

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