The culture of optimism in the craft community.

This space was created for me to write like I did in the olden days of LiveJournal and to absolve myself of the stress that blogging for purpose creates. To be honest, I don't have the time or the content to justify a homemaking blog, no matter how I fool myself. So heirloom tomato is just a space where I can spread my thoughts haphazardly all over the place without regard to my readership or any kind of authority. But, this post might be crossposted simply because I feel that strongly about it.

I feel stifled by, and simultaneously shunned by, the culture of positivity that exists presently in the crafty world. For all of the foibles one must encounter in any avenue of their life, senseless optimism is perhaps the most infuriating. To say that the concept of positivity versus negativity has become polarized in this environment is an understatement. There are evangelicals and dissenters and nary the two shall meet, be friends or even care what the other has to say. Of late, I've been lumped in with the dissenters and subsequently I feel that I've also been labeled negative, pessimistic, cranky, angry, and generally unpleasant by the general aura of the crafty community. Now, before you get all pedantic about what I'm saying here, I do acknowledge that my feelings are not fact AND that I have reached these conclusions because of the vast fields of chirping crickets I have faced of late when I've lamented these very real problems and complications. I should also take the time here to spell something out: the use of I in all of these sentences does not mean I'm making this about ME. In fact, I'm the least of my worries in the grand scheme.

People have reached out to pat me on the head, they've told me that pessimism won't get me anywhere, and have even gone so far as to suggest that resting on my laurels is no way to change the world. Writing in a blog and sharing with the greater internet community is not "resting on my laurels", I assure you, and I also assure you that these are not the only avenues I have taken. I have been ignored both by Etsy AND by websites like Etsy Bitch, both of whom I have contacted directly. Not to say that they are the end-all of the crafty community, but Etsy and the general influence it has on the craft community is a concern I have prioritized. I had also been asked to write for a blog but to keep the content "positive" in light of what I had recently written on QD. Subsequently, I have not written for that blog. Therein lies my frustration with this entire situation:

It is a matter of privilege to think that I am being "pessimistic/negative" with my words and issues when it comes to addressing oppression. It suits the greater good to think I am a rebel-rouser, and it only secures the status quo by assuming that I am a representative of the dark underbelly. I am, in fact, far more optimistic than most people in craft today.

To have privilege and to deny its existence in this world and in the realm of craft, to contend that it has nothing to do with craft, and to not acknowledge it is irresponsible at best, destructive at worst...is pessimism defined. It is the acknowledgment that things have not and will never change, and that the people who feel unrepresented or underrepresented should just capitulate to what the "majority" dictate, which is more appropriately described as those in power.

Admitting fault is one of the most complex and painful experiences that one must go through. It is second only to releasing power. Trust me, I have admitted fault and I will continue to as a cisgendered, white, child of the upper middle class and I still struggle with the complex and painful process of releasing power. It is a responsibility that I take on because ultimately, despite the hard work one must process through, the rewards are that much sweeter.

Etsy and the greater craft community have an obligation to not ignore their privilege and an obligation to redefine their priorities. Being in an insulated, sometimes faceless, community like the craft world does not mean you can ignore that which goes on around you or call it pessimism/negativity when someone brings it up in a manner with which you disagree. And if Etsy/craft is working on this, they have neither made any claim that would indicate it a priority NOR has the material that they generate changed in any way. People, aesthetics, styles and even materials are stil appropriated on a daily basis; racial, ethnic and cultural identities whitewashed by the overabundancy of the dominant class in its blogs and in its treasuries. In this case, when the face of modern craft is white, cisgendered, educated, heterosexual and middle class, you are only speaking to that particular subset of people. The entire world of craft could be a veritable pantheon of diverse and beautiful wonderment, but it's not. Not yet, anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.