It’s been a year since I’ve blogged. I can provide a lot of excuses, but none of them are very interesting. Suffice to say: I didn’t have the words to say what I needed to say. Today, I felt like I did. Please be advised, though, this is a posting is about power–and that is the essence of politics. If you’re not up to it, move on. But having said that, I have warned you. But if you are, I’m talking to you. All of you.
In case anyone hasn’t noticed, it’s cold. Today as I write, the temperature at 1 o’clock in the afternoon is a sunny 9 degrees (but it’s a whole lot warmer than this morning when it was -6). And it’s been cold since before Christmas. I’ve managed to lose two of my hats, and so, the other day when it was freezing and I needed a hat, I turned to my Pussy Hat.
I actually have knitted three Pussy Hats. I knitted one for a friend going to the March in New York. I then learned that Madison would have its own March, so I knitted a hat for myself—which I also ended up giving away to a friend after the March (the crowd was estimated to be 75,000 and 100,000—way to go Madison!). Then I made another one for me to keep. I thought, our resistance is just beginning—I will need this more.
Knitting & Watching Obama’s Farewell Hat One: Went to Nic Marching in NYC
This is what Democracy Looks Like.
It’s not that the resistance is over—in fact, the predictions for how awful this administration will be has not been wrong. We’ve seen rights for immigrants, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and more erode or threatened to be eroded. Health care, we’ve been told, is not a right, but a privilege. Our taxes are about to be increased, and a lot of people are scared, angry, or both. Sure we’ve had some a few victories (Doug Jones, a microscope focused on sexual harassment with #MeToo), but these don’t erase the shootings in Las Vegas or Texas or Every. Single. Day. In. Chicago. Nor do these few victories erase the hard work that still needs to be done. It’s overwhelming, I know, but at the same time, we cannot stop. There’s 2018 and then 2020 elections. There are still too many guns out there. Cars and trucks have become vehicles for mass murder. There are far too many who still think it’s no big deal—they can make us the butt of the joke, say it’s our fault, or maybe there are some who still think it’s okay to grab an ass or pussy. So, we still need to keep our Pussy Hats on.
But after that weekend, I didn’t see a lot of people wearing one. I mean, I saw one or two every once and a while. To be fair, except for shoveling snow at one point, I didn’t wear my hat either. It was a warmish winter—and then it was summer, which extended well into the fall. But then the other day, it was cold, I couldn’t find any of my regular black knit hats so I said, what the hell, I’m wearing my Pussy Hat.
I headed out to do some errands. We had been gone over the holidays so we needed groceries, dry cleaning to be dropped off, and I needed return some things and get some other knitting needles—maybe so I can make myself a non-Pussy Hat.
At Ulta, I whipped off my hat as I went in. I didn’t want to feel like a spectacle—and I was asking them to give me some free product, so I didn’t want anyone on edge. I got my product (a free gift they had been out of) and left. No one noticed, but I didn’t allow them to notice.
I then went to the dry cleaners. This time, I just kept the hat on. I go to a Mom & Pop place, so the folks there know me. I especially like the woman who works there—I’m not sure she’s an owner, but she is certainly a regular. After handing her my dry cleaning and saying our happy new years, she said: “Is that a ______?” She didn’t finish the question.
“Yes, it is. I couldn’t find my other hats. And maybe the resistance isn’t over yet…”
“No, it isn’t. And it’s cute.”
“Thanks. I made it.”
She was impressed with my having knitted it. I may have told her that I actually made three. But there was another person waiting, so I wished her another happy new year and went on my way.
The grocery is across the street. Surprisingly, it was busy for a Tuesday afternoon, but it was the 2nd and I’m sure everyone was out or just over their leftovers. Walking (well, running—it was cold), into the store, I was hyper aware of others. Maybe I was having an attack of teenage feelings (Everyone is looking at me!!), but I felt sensitive. Was that guy who walked in just behind me laughing at my hat (he laughed, but he was talking to someone)? Were others looking at my hat? If someone looked at me, I just smiled. I shook myself mentally and reminded myself, you’re not so special– no one is looking at you.
So I shopped. That was it. But then I saw her—another woman wearing a Pussy Hat. She was an older woman (maybe late 60s or 70s) and her hat was sewn rather than knit, but it was unmistakably a Pussy Hat. My first impulse was to follow her into Dairy, but that seemed a little creepy and stalkerish, so I continued to get syrup before heading into Dairy to get cheese. As I turned my cart into the Dairy section, we were cart-to-cart, face-to-face. I think I said, I like your hat and she probably said something similar.
She said, “No one seems to wear them anymore.”
I agreed, and then she said, “But we’re kindred spirits.”
“That we are, and we still need the resistance.”
I told her that I thought there may be a March in Madison on the 20th, but I wasn’t sure.
We continued on with our shopping, but I felt like I ran into an old friend.
At the craft store, I knew I was in good company, though, I was the only person wearing a Pussy Hat. I think I thought that because I’ve bought a good bit of yarn there and had conversations about the March last year. In fact, I told one woman who helped me that I got the yarn for my hat there last year. She told me that she had heard there were Marches in Milwaukee and Eau Claire, but not here in Madison. I told her I thought there might be one here in Madison, but I wasn’t sure—but if I heard anything, I’d pop in and let her know.
And that my friends is how you build community. You can go about your business, but let others know—in a non-creepy, not terribly aggressive way, that we’ve still got work to do. We need to let others know, the resistance needs to continue. Whatever we can do—call our senators (Ronnie Johnson’s staffers must know my voice), call our representatives—then let’s call. If we have some disposable income (I don’t, but you may) give to causes that help those who are becoming more and more disfranchised by the day to survive. Maybe you just smile into the faces of folks in grocery store, dry cleaners, craft store, or the other business where you shop. You can make your co-workers or students’ lives a little more bearable by listening. Or you can teach your students about community issues like how jobs go away (See Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein) and how a living wage and a minimum wage differ. You can let others know, that you are not going to be cowed, but #you too are part of the resistance, so it’s cold outside—put on your Pussy Hat.
And if anyone finds out if there is a March in Madison, please send me a message! Right now I know about Marches in Eau Claire and Milwaukee, but we need to represent here in the Capital!!