‘I like to knit. What’s wrong with that?’

Reuben

It’s really interesting to see people’s reactions when I tell them I knit and crochet. Women usually love it. I’ve had mothers tell me I should sell knitted items for babies and I’ve even had old ladies ask me for help with their technique.

Men tend to have more mixed reactions. Some guys think it’s cool (though perhaps a little bit quirky) but in my experience, the older the gentleman, the less comfortable they are with the idea of a guy who does something so… “feminine”.   A good friend of mine once said, “You’re pretty gay for a straight guy” and I think that sentence sums it up pretty accurately.

I find it strange how certain activities are considered to be either masculine or feminine. It makes me sad to think that these gender stereotypes, so deeply ingrained in our society, may hinder people from pursuing activities that they might really enjoy. People always assume that my girlfriend must have taught me to knit and crochet when in fact, it was the other way around. Despite the fact we are supposed to live in a time of gender equality, it seems many of us still base our perceptions of people on an outdated model of “male” and “female”.

Knitting and crochet are seen as feminine activities (even though as little as 600 years ago only men were taught how to knit!) and I like the fact that when people find out I crochet and knit, it makes them question their judgments, stereotypes and assumptions a little bit.

My Nanna taught me to knit when I was just a kid and I’m thankful that she got to teach me those skills before I became too self-conscious about doing something that others might not think appropriate for “a big strong man.” I’m also really glad that my girlfriend has always thought it was awesome, rather than girly or weird. Knitting and crocheting has become a massive part of who I am and if it hadn’t been for the supportive and open-minded people in my life, I may have been too afraid of judgment to try it.

It’s really encouraging to find other men who knit. It turns out there are lots of us out there!  After all, knitting is all about taking the fleece from a wild animal and using nothing but your bare hands and two sticks to create things for keeping yourself warm. What could be more “manly” than that?

Reuben is a 20-something crafty man and one half of lifestyle blog House of Humble.

What activity do you enjoy (or perhaps loathe) that breaks the “gender” stereotype?

What do you think?

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