There have been critiques about Pussyhat Project and whether Pussyhats should be included in some of the 2018 women’s marches. Some feel that the pink color of the hat excludes people of color from the project. Some feel that the hat is a literal symbol of female anatomy, promoting Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF). Thank you for speaking up with your criticisms. We hear you.
The founding principles of Pussyhat Project are inclusivity, compassion, creativity, personal connection, and open dialogue, all to further women’s rights and human rights. It is an exciting and ongoing process, and these criticisms are part of it.
Participation: The Core of Pussyhat Project
Pussyhat Project comes out of my personal story. You see, I am both a designer and a person with a disability. Four years ago, I sustained a life-altering head and neck injury that changed the way I view and interact with the world. Through my continuing recovery, I learned to crochet. I discovered the incredible knitting community, a community that welcomed me. Because of my disability, I was unable to march last year. And I desperately wanted to participate. I co-created Pussyhat Project (with Krista Suh) as an accessible platform for participation because I was not able to attend a women’s march in person.
The Pussyhat Project is about giving visibility to the invisible and voice to the voiceless. Its beauty is that anyone, anywhere can participate. There are so many reasons why someone may not be able to march: medical, financial, or scheduling to name a few. Earlier this week I was sitting and knitting with a group of women at a home for the elderly. The residents have been knitting pussyhats for the Los Angeles March because, as one woman said, “I cannot march, but I can contribute.” With this project, many women are able to create something to support the women’s movement.
Knitting a hat is one way to contribute. Another powerful way is creating and using safe spaces for constructive dialogue, listening, and reflection. If you make a Pussyhat in a group, we encourage talking about the women’s movement with your knitting circle. If you make a Pussyhat on your own, we encourage you to include with your generous gift of a Pussyhat a note sharing a women’s rights issue important to you. I have seen notes describing incredibly personal stories about sexual assault, as well as the crucial need for intersectionality in the women’s movement. If you wear a Pussyhat, you invite conversation.
Pink “Pussyhat” or “Pink Pussy” Hat?
We chose the color pink because it is the color ascribed to girls and femininity. Commercial advertising’s concept of “shrink it and pink it” so women will buy runs rampant. We wanted to take ownership of this feminine color and project it en masse to create a powerful statement.
The name “pussyhat” alludes to the shape of the hat with cat ears and references the Access Hollywood recording of Donald Trump:
You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything.
“Pussy” is a derogatory term not just about specific genitalia, but also about the feminine. We want to reclaim the term as a means of female empowerment. Pussyhat is about speaking up for body autonomy and fighting against abuses of power.
An Opening for Discussion
The aim of Pussyhat Project is not just to make the hat, a singular moment recorded on January 21, 2017. It’s an ongoing movement that uses design to create social change, and inspires people who have felt invisible, feel visible.
There are some people who have felt invisible because of this project. Some have interpreted pink hats with cat ears as white women’s vulvas. Not all women have pussies. Not all pussies are pink. Our intent was and always will be to support all women. We hear some of you saying that this symbol has made some women feel excluded. We hear you. We see you.
Pussyhat Project is evolving as the conversation around women’s rights and inclusion progresses. We depend on suggestions and voices and partnerships. We want to hear from you. How can we make this project more meaningful, more powerful, more inclusive? Will you join me in having this conversation?