Why I Am a Maker
The readings and videos for this week were all interesting, but the one that caught my attention the most was “Why I Am Not a Maker” by Debbie Chachra. The first time I read it through, I believed that she had made a pretty good argument. Reading it again, however, helped me find several holes in her claim. I thought of her argument in terms of yarn graffiti and realized it did have flaws.
“It’s not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with making (although it’s not all that clear that the world needs more stuff).”
I don’t fully agree with Chachra here. From an environmental perspective, yes, thrifting and minimizing garbage is good. Buying stuff you don’t need and wasting stuff that you bought is bad.
But sometimes stuff must be made, and sometimes everyone must make something in order to change ways that people “teach, criticize, and take care of others.”
Sometimes darts of stuff need to be thrown into the over-stuffed dartboard that is the world today because there will still be some darts that hit bull’s eye and change the way we think.
What about the “makers” of the #MeToo movement? According to Chachra’s logic, these people just made stuff. They didn’t “teach, criticize, or take care of others” by manufacturing their posts because manufacturing implies making. Yet, every person who participated in the #MeToo movement did “teach, criticize, or take care of others” by spreading awareness across the Internet about sexual violence. They didn’t just “make stuff” but created a lasting message, one so powerful that “The Silence Breakers” became TIME’s Person of the Year.
This cover featured all women, including a musician, a strawberry picker, and a hospital worker, which brings me to my next point:
The strict divide of masculine and feminine, and maker and caregiver
When Chachra genders creation as being masculine and caring as being feminine, that makes sense in an unfortunately ingrained, outdated, and traditional sense. But when she claims that the act of making can’t be the act of criticism, the act of caring, or the act of teaching, I believe she is wrong.
Take the act of knitting or crocheting: the task to this day is gendered as a feminine and widely considered domestic. Traditionally, women were expected to stay silent and keep busy doing housework while the men went to work, because what was better than having a quiet women who would stay out of trouble by knitting sweater for your fourth son to keep warm? Or teaching her daughter the act, so she too would keep quiet?
“Making is not a rebel movement, scrappy individuals going up against the system.”
As time went on, these makers wouldn’t stand to have this task gendered. No, they took their creations out of the home and onto the street, where in some ways they were more bright and more prominent than those architectural achievements allegedly all designed by men.
They didn’t deny the title of ‘maker’ because of its masculine connotations; they reclaimed it as their own act to criticize (something that makers apparently don’t do) the gendered role crocheting and knitting implied. If this wasn’t a rebel movement, then I don’t know what is.
“Describing oneself as a maker . . . is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products.”
Then Chachra goes on about money for a few paragraphs, condemning makers for producing more income than non-makers. Okay, but don’t people who ‘make’ food at McDonalds get paid minimum wage?
Again, I believe she’s thinking too broadly. Yarn graffiti artists make zero profit from their works (actually, they lose money on materials and time). Other makers can claim the same: failed novelists and musicians who perform for nothing on street corners.
Meanwhile, work that requires caring almost always pays. I mean, don’t babysitters get paid exorbitant amounts of money? Doesn’t every kind of tutor and teacher ask for a sum? And I’m guessing that Chachra made some money off of her critical article she wrote for The Atlantic.
I don’t dismiss her argument that in the workplace, women are seen as less. But female makers continue to make impactful products, whether they’re a chef, a novelist, an architect, or a yarn bomber.
While I fully agree with her that a stereotype remains around makers being better than caregivers, teachers, etc. she is thinking too narrowly, maybe even as narrowly as the people who value makers over others.
Lastly, she does not make a point of mentioning any overlap, or someone who is both a maker and a caregiver. I believe there are people who are both.
Chachra, Debbie. “Why I Am Not a Maker.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 23 Jan. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/.
Teresa Pantusa’s website Beauty By Teresa immediately gives off a simple yet elegant vibe. The muted fur border and pink marble background used on the homepage create a calming aesthetic, though the pink marble photo seems a bit out of focus. Whether this was intentional or not, it caught my attention. There’s also a small typo in her tagline (‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’).
Moving to her About Me page, I was welcomed by an image that says “Hello Gorgeous.” I think it’s a really nice touch! It adds to the comfortable and positive atmosphere of her site. Her introduction is conversational and friendly, though it might help if it was broken up into smaller paragraphs (instead of one small one and one big one). It might also be a good idea to disable the comments for this page; I find it a bit strange that I’d be able comment on an About Me.
Her Tutorial page features eye-catching photos and interesting captions. I first checked out the Every Day Holy Grail Make Up Products post. The wall of text was a bit intimidating, and breaking it up might help readers navigate it. That said, I think it was a good idea to bold the products used and list the prices at the end.
I really like Teresa’s Pink Toned Glam Tutorial. It has a simple layout and includes pictures of her with the look, something that I wished her Every Day Products post had. I think listing prices for the Pink Toned tutorial would have made it more cohesive with the other post.
Other than that, I think her Product Reviews and Skin Care tabs are useful and important to have. I feel like there’s something here for everyone who’s looking for make up tips. One thing I was wondering while browsing her site, however, was “Will there be video tutorials?” I feel like that could add a really cool layer to her website.
Overall, Teresa’s website seems to be coming along well. There are some typos, and her posts might benefit from having a set format, but the colours and tone of the site work well together to make a recognizable online self.
This week was a pleasant struggle, to say the least. I’ve never been much of “tech” person, but my adaptability usually makes up for my incompetence.
That said, I struggled for about three hours trying to get the slider on my home page to work.
Starting out, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do. My two big interests (or at least the only interests I can really maintain while balancing school and work) right now are crocheting and Alan Moore’s well-know graphic novels. It seemed natural that I should try and fit these two things together in my blog to create the ultimate passion project.
Unfortunately, I had some struggles. How could I bring together the relatively benign act of crochet crafting and the gritty, dark, and often violent texts of V for Vendetta and Watchmen?
The answer came relatively quickly. I had always loved the art of “yarn graffiti.” I first found out about this through Yarn Bombing by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain. I thought it was a pretty good way to link yarn creations and anarchy, so I developed my website’s layout with that in mind: cute, yet “dangerous.” As the authors write in Yarn Bombing, “While many may…never have considered yarn and anarchy to be congruous terms, yarn craft and activism have a long history together” (22). This is something I’d like to remember as I “tag” different places with crochet.
For my website, I used a flowery background and decided to accompany my posts with V for Vendetta and Watchmen gifs to set a tone. These things were included on my vision board, and my overall idea was for the blog to be fun and light-hearted, while also commenting on how boring-looking campuses don’t do much for students who are supposed to be “engaged.”
Keeping things from getting boring has always been important to me. This is why I want to keep my posts short, colourful, and interesting so my work doesn’t end up being “a waste product, a valueless byproduct in the production of literate citizens” as Erin Glass described what most student work becomes in her article “Why we need Social Paper.”
I posted my first yarn bomb with a little title about how it went. I also did a write-up on the “talking to strangers” exercise, mimicking the style of Rorschach’s journal entries in Watchmen. Most of this week was used experimenting with aesthetics. At the moment, I feel like the the two overarching ones of crochet and graphic novels aren’t matching up perfectly, but I hope to smooth that out as the course goes on.
Glass, Erin. “Why We Need Social Paper.” CUNY Academic Commons. N.p., 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2018.
Moore, Mandy and Prain, Leanne. Yarn Bombing. New York: Arsenal Pulp, 2010. Print.
Talking to Strangers
A stranger I talked to this week was an SFU student named Aiya. I did not first approach her in real life, but through email.
My co-worker had forwarded me an email, and being the organized person I am, I ignored it for three days. When I finally got around to opening it, I kicked myself in the ass for not doing so sooner. The original email was from a girl named Aiya who was interested in proofreading. If her interest was sincere, she would work under me and be something of an unpaid intern. I was overjoyed.
My first email to her was formal and polite. I asked her if she was serious about being a volunteer proofreader. Emphasis there because it’s the only unpaid position at the newspaper, and since when do people squint at pages, searching for misplaced commas, for free? She replied back quickly (despite it being midnight) and said, “Being able to prevent pesky typos from getting to the final print will make my day.” Who was this girl? And why did she remind me so much of myself from just a year ago, in the same position? Probably because I too was a keener. Egad.
Anyway, we had a bit more back-and-forth through emails. I sent her a simple proofreading test and the paper’s style guide and told her (politely) to knock herself out. She did, and I was satisfied. I invited her to come visit the office on Friday, the paper’s production day.
At this point, I didn’t consider Aiya known. I considered her as a voice behind a screen that made me somewhat nostalgic for my painfully unpaid proofreader days. And yet, she was known. The second I saw the forwarded email in my inbox and read the name ‘Aiya’, I knew her as a real human being who was…somewhere. But her physical and more characteristic form remained unknown to me, at least until Friday.
On Friday, I met Aiya for the first time face-to-face. It’s strange because as soon as I saw her enter the office, I knew who she was. Why? Because she looked just like me from two years ago. Talk about scary. Her posture, her hair, her eagerness, they were all me.
Except she was more outgoing, and she brought chocolate.
Now I definitely “knew” her, right? Wrong. I still considered her a complete stranger, even as I began to chat with her and showed her the proofreading ropes. She was still a stranger to me when we finally finished the paper and I sent her home, nine hours later. Maybe she’ll always be a stranger to me.
I mean, I like Aiya just fine, and I’m sure I’ll get to know her better throughout this semester. But will she, or any other person in my life including myself, stop being strangers? Will I ever know someone well enough that they’ll cease being “strange” to me? I doubt it.