PussyHat activists knit feminist challenge to Trump
The Japan Times AFP-JIJI, AP Jan 19, 2017
Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh work Friday in Los Angeles on the Pussyhat Project they created for protesters in the Women's March in Washington to be held the day after the presidential inauguration. | REUTERS
NEW YORK – New York actress Wendy Peace is learning how to knit for a cause, one of thousands of women across America making pink “pussy hats” — with cat ears — for those marching Saturday in a giant protest against Donald Trump in Washington.
More than 60,000 hats have already been made for the Women’s March on the day after Trump’s inauguration, with thousands more on the way.
“It’s not just a protest, it’s a call for action,” said Peace, explaining that she picked up knitting needles because she was so moved by the expression of solidarity after the most divisive U.S. election in memory.
Marchers say they want to vent against an incoming Republican administration that they fear will roll back women’s rights.
The PussyHat Project began when two Los Angeles women, Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh, went online to post a knitting pattern for a “unique collective visual statement” for the march.
Crystal Howard of New York shows a hat she is making for the Women’s March in Washington this Saturday. AP
The response has been overwhelming.
Organizers chose the play on words for “pussycat” and “pussy” in an attempt to claim back the term for female genitalia that Trump used about groping women in a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape.
Amy Nowacoski, 43, said the hat has become a merit badge among knitters. “Additionally, it could force newscasters to say ‘pussy hat,’ which would be incredibly entertaining.”
At Knitty City, a cozy yarn studio in Manhattan, about 20 women wearing the hats were talking together recently as they knit hats for other protesters.
“It’s very emotional,” Peace said. “We are trying to take back the word ‘pussy,’ and I think, unfortunately, a lot of us has been grabbed in the pussy, and I think it’s really important that we stand together.”
The vast majority of New York voted for Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost her bid to become the first female president of the world’s most powerful democracy.
“One hat is a curiosity, but 100,000 hats is a movement,” said Maxine Levinson, 68, who has already made 15 of them and who has been teaching at Knitty City since the store opened. “Knitting is a way to alleviate your anxiety, to alleviate the anger that you might have,” she explained. “It’s a connection with women that are marching.”
Despite allegations of sexual assault, fat-shaming a former beauty queen and taking a controversial stance on abortion, Trump won 42 percent of the women’s vote overall and a majority — 53 percent — of votes from white women.
Millions of women who did not vote for him now worry that gender rights and other progress on women’s health care, access to contraception and abortion could be chipped away under his administration.
“We still don’t have financial equality — we want that in the workplace — but, more importantly, we don’t want to see the rights we fought and have won for taken away,” Levinson said. “We want health care, to support Planned Parenthood. We don’t want the government to tell us what we can and can’t do with our bodies. We want rights for immigrants, we want voting rights.”