Tuesday, January 24, 2006

historical fiction

I am more than a little annoyed at the Evil Seamstress Overlords (as you might have noticed). But before I start bashing on them, I thought I'd hip you to the great new website set up by angry wimmin with pointy sticks, freetostitchfreetobitch.org, where you can read all about the evil company that shafted us, get cute graphics & buttons for your website and learn about friendly independent retailers of crafting supplies. So click on over there, I don't mind. The rest of this post is just a rant anyway.

So here's what I'm ranting about. It's this little bit of historical fiction from the Evil Seamstress Overlord website, under the heading, "Recent change to the Stitch & Bitch Cafe":
Stitch & Bitch started before 1997 when students of Sew Fast Sew Easy, Inc. gathered together for Friday Evenings of sewing, knitting and crochet fun. It was an idea of Elissa Meyrich the creative director of Sew Fast Sew Easy, Inc. In 1998, it became the Stitch & Bitch Café forum and linked to the website Sew Fast Sew Easy, Inc.

Stitch & Bitch Café is a brand name under Sew Fast Sew Easy, Inc and has been trademarked since 2001. No other usage of Stitch & Bitch ever occurred before the first Friday evening gatherings at Sew Fast Sew Easy [emphasis added] in it's first location 147 West 57th Street and Stitch and Bitch Café was one of the first online forums of its kind. We at Sew Fast Sew Easy decided it was time to convert our original trademarked online board into a forum. We also continue to hold our Stitch & Bitch nights at our current address 237 West 35th Street . Those nights are announced to our students and customers.

People, PLEASE?!? Who do they think they're fooling? Wimmin have been using the term "stitch and bitch" a loooong time. Even if their little creation story has any basis in actual events, the "no other usage" statement is pure fantasy!

Okay, here's my own factual example: last year I read Barbara Kingsolver's 1990 classic, Animal Dreams. I love this book, by the way. Anyhow, one of the big crises in the book is resolved by the Stitch & Bitch Club (yes, that's what she calls it), who use their crafting skills to save the town from a huge polluter. I partly loved this book for the stitchnbitchers. Check it for yourself, I'm sure it's available at your local library. That's just one example of how the Evil Seamstress Overlords are fallaciously claiming to have invented an important piece of women's history - and I'm sure that Barbara Kingsolver didn't invent the term, either. Someone should ask her where she first heard it.

So what's in a name? It's not just about sewing and crocheting and having fun, all right? The Evil Seamstress Overlords totally miss the "bitch" part of the story. In Kingsolver's book, the Stitch & Bitch Club use their cute little crafts club to promote their native art and raise money for a legal fund to kick a big corporate polluter out of their town. At our very own Stitch & Bitch group, we have hatched revolutionary activist ideas like the Keys of Resistance, and held fashion show fundraisers to get more women elected to public office. That's the BITCH part!

At Evil Seamstress Overlord headquarters, Stitch & Bitch is just a cute name to promote their products and services. But out here in the real world of women's networking and skill-sharing, we use it to create a space for new ideas and projects - not knitting projects, but smashing injustice projects. Knitting is just the excuse to get together. In many cultures sewing, knitting or crafting is a clever cover for women's gatherings that would otherwise be forbidden.

Another example: a colleague told me about a project she had worked on with the Latina community in East Los Angeles in the 1970s. Domestic violence was (is still?) a large problem in that community, compounded by a very macho, patriarchal culture and taboos against talking about the issue. She wanted to get women together to talk about it, so that they could start to seek help and quit getting beat up, but their husbands wouldn't let them go out to meetings. So they started a sewing circle. The idea was to get together and sew Quinceañera dresses to raise money for themselves. That was no problem for the husbands - they gladly let their women go out to sew together and raise money. But what do you think they talked about in the sewing circle? They bitched and bitched about getting beaten by their men, and they started to do something about it. They didn't call themselves "Stitch & Bitch," but they sure did do that, in the full sense of the term.

So that's why I'm so ticked about these greedy fools co-opting the name. If you needed me to explain. Now I guess I ought to quit bitching and start a revolution. Or at least design some bumper stickers.

2 comments:

  1. grrrr.... I can't believe they have the nerve to think they founded that name... I have a close friend in Seattle who said her grandma use to be part of a group called, yep "Stitch and Bitch" and they use to get together in the late 1950s to knit and bitch about politics. She was amused to hear that the name was being used again...I cry bullshit on sew fast/so sleazy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the facts - and also for the SnB "history" comments you made on my blog.

    Hehe!! I just have to laugh when women do such clever things...you know - get together to sew dresses (and TALKING while they do that!).

    I read the So Fast So Sleazy website too, about how (supposedly) no-one else had ever used that term before they did. Whatever! How the hell would they know???? The US, alone, is a BIG place. Maybe no-one in NYC had used that term (but again, how would they KNOW that???) but that's not the WHOLE WORLD. Anyway. Love how they are trying to MAKE MONEY using the SnB term now.

    ReplyDelete