Feminist Knitting Club Yarn-ing for Discussion

Armed RevolutioKnits is a new Claremont Colleges group dedicated
to fighting for women’s rights using yarn graffiti and social media. The group, started by Megan Petersen SC ’15 and Lizzy Pfeiffer SC ’15, goes by
the motto “We fight with sticks for chicks,” and their logo is Rosie the
Riveter. But this isn’t your average feminist group.

The duo started with an interest in the fiber arts, which utilize fabric, yarn and other fibers, and “craftivism” (activism through art) and combined it with their yearning for an on-campus secret society.

“Yarn graffiti” or “yarn bombing” denotes a form of street art
that makes use of yarn and cloth rather than paint or chalk. Like regular
graffiti, yarn bombing allows people to make their voices heard by tagging
public spaces, albeit in an unconventional way. Yarn graffiti comes with a
distinct advantage: it is not permanent and can easily be removed, unlike other
graffiti that destroys public property.

The medium goes
hand in hand with the message Armed RevolutioKnits promotes. Yarn graffiti subverts the conventional image of knitting as a traditionally domestic, matronly craft.

“Knitting is supposed to be a domestic sort of thing, so yarn
graffiti takes it out of that stereotype, out of that environment and makes it
bada**,” Petersen said.

“We reclaim [knitting] for ourselves, so even though it’s typically
known to be this domestic kind of skill, we’re taking it over and using our needles to
fight,” Pfeiffer added.

While the group does promote women’s issues, the activist
approach of the RevolutioKnits is different from existing women’s groups
on campus.

“It’s the
people that are already actively engaged that are going to [events related to women’s or feminist issues]. [Our group] is more to target everybody else. There are some women
activism groups regarding issues like sexual assault and women not getting paid
equally, but there are so many other issues, deep-set problems, affecting women
that are just as important,” Petersen said.

“I think the most valuable thing that we offer that other clubs
don’t is that we do try to reach out to those people who aren’t part of these
other groups and who aren’t necessarily interested in these issues already. So
we bring them into the debate as well,” Pfeiffer said.

The duo aims to start a dialogue around women’s issues.
Their true interests lie in creating a presence in the 5C community through social
media and getting people talking about women’s problems.

“We’re not trying to tell people how to think or make them do
anything. We’re not trying to pass laws. We want it to be a dialogue and we
want to get people thinking about these things,” Petersen said.

The group invites everyone to join and wants the
entire 5C community to make their voices heard whether or not they agree with the

“I was really bummed. I wrote this long post about abortion and
I really wanted people to get on it but nobody did,” Petersen said. 

stressed the importance of getting involved in the group in a multitude of
ways, whether participating through knitting or simply commenting on the

“A lot of people who are in the club now were afraid because
they didn’t know how to knit or crochet,” Pfeiffer said. “First of all,
you don’t need to know how to do those things. We have so many other things
people can do to participate from photo-taking to writing on the blog to
finding facts for the tags to planning events. But we’ve also taught people how
to knit, so if you want to learn there’s always the possibility for someone to
get involved.”

So far, only one tag has been taken down, at Pomona. The
rest—including tags outside administration and office buildings—have been left
up. Although the group has yet to receive negative feedback, they’re prepared
for criticism as the club gains more exposure.

“People might not be so accepting at first. They might not
understand or think it looks right in these public spaces, but that’s the
point. We’re reclaiming these public spaces,” Pfeiffer said. “These issues
aren’t always going to be pretty, and people aren’t always going to want to pay
attention to them, just like the graffiti. That’s the point. You should be
paying attention even if you don’t want to look at things that are ugly. These
issues are real and they are ugly.”

Just because the group promotes women’s rights, it
isn’t solely composed of females. The founders emphasized that the issues they
promote affect everyone.

“You can’t address these issues without having men involved
too,” Pfeiffer said. “We’re addressing everyone because the world is our
audience and everyone needs to be aware of these issues. Men need to know that
this is important.”

The club already has several male members. Tony Gomez PO ’15
explained how he feels as a male member of the club.

“I feel like as a guy, there aren’t many men out there who do
things for women’s rights in general. Being one of the few guys into the fiber arts, I felt like this
was a really good way to fight the gender norm and stand up for what’s right.
And it’s not in a violent way. It’s like, who can get mad at fiber arts?” Gomez said.

The group has high hopes for their work. Eventually they hope to
take their efforts outside of the 5Cs into the greater Los Angeles area and

“This is not something just concerning the 5Cs. It’s concerning
the whole world. We want people taking tags home with them and when they go
abroad. We really want to branch this out,” Pfeiffer said. “These issues affect
the whole world, so we want to bring the whole world’s attention to our efforts.” 

To learn more about the Armed RevolutioKnits, check out their
blog at http://armedrevolutiokits.wordpress.com and Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/armedrevolutioknits.

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