The Pussyhat Project story

 

In November 2016 Donald Trump was elected to be President of the United States and two young Californian women, screenwriter Krista Suh and architect, Jayna Zweiman weren’t happy about it.

They decided to head to join the protest for Women’s Rights and head to Washington DC for the Women’s March, scheduled for the day after the inauguration, January 21st. They needed some warm headgear.

A visit to their local yarn store led to the birth of the pussyhat, designed by store owner, Kat Coyle. Aurora Lady did all the Pussyhat Project artwork. They subsequently founded the Pussyhat Project

(www.pussyhatproject.com). The concept went viral. Fast. It got really big. According to the New Yorker Magazine (January 25, 2017), at least 100,000 hats had been made and distributed to Women’s March participants by the time of the march.

The Pussyhat Project was astonishingly successful. Those who couldn’t be at the march sent hats to those who could be. Others posted pictures of themselves wearing their hats and bearing placards and became participants of a Virtual March. To paraphrase the President, it was huge

Why Pussy? That is a reference to Trumps infamous comments, captured on an ‘’Access Hollywood” tape back in 2005, in which he stated that: “I just start kissing them. 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”. Hmmm.

So the Pussy part is a symbolic reclaiming of the derogatory term for one’s nether parts by their owners. The cat ears make for a whimsical, comedic hat that is both light and serious. The pink? Pink has become the iconic female colour. Hot pink is loud, stands out – looks great en masse in a crowd and says “look at me, I am here!” Why handmade?

Again, the domestic is repurposed for the political. It is an example of Political Craftivism – activism through craft. The pussyhat has become an iconic political symbol of protest against the eroding of women’s rights.   Suh and Zweiman describe it on their website as follow:

The pussyhat is a symbol of support and solidarity for women’s rights and political resistance. Make a pussyhat! Give a pussyhat! Wear your pussyhat.

So what is it that makes a pussyhat a pussyhat? Is it the colour pink? Is it the ears? Is it the handmade-ness? All of these factors are sufficient but not necessary. Like any woman, the pussyhat is hard to define. Whilst the Classic PH is certainly Pink (with a capital P), knitted, crocheted or sewn and has ears, PH wearing women would be loathe to be so restrictive in defining a pussyhat.

Perhaps it is the wearing or giving of hats? Is it the thought that goes into the decision to make or wear a pussyhat and the process of making of it? Is it the acknowledgement of a pussyhat as a symbol of women’s solidarity and power to resist and fight for their rights, to own and make decisions about their bodies, to vote and be paid equally for equal work, to engage in education, to be able to walk the streets without fear or abuse.

Whatever you decide your pussyhat is going to look like is up to you – they are certainly a lot of fun to make and wear and generate a lot of great conversation.

Read more about the Pussyhat Project on their website.

The Pussyhat Project in the media

Anne Summers wrote a great article in the Sydney Morning Herald:  Beware Donald Trump: the pussy hat will be the protest symbol of our times .

Karl Vick for Time magazine wrote, Perhaps the Largest Protest in U.S. History Was Brought to You by Trump.

While at the New Yorker,  Rob Walker penned, The D.I.Y. Revolutionaries of the Pussyhat Project.

Andrew Buncombe from the The Independent asked ten people why they felt empowered wearing a pink ‘pussy’ hat. 

And the BBC world news reported that ‘Pussyhat’ knitters join a long tradition of crafty activism by women and men around the world.

Refinery Studio’s Claire Dalmyn: The feminist movement has a problem but pink hats aren’t it.