I Stand with Ravelry

If you’ve been on social media recently, or even simply watching the news, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that Ravelry, the fiber crafters’ beloved social network, has banned open support for Trump and his regime. Far from being a quiet announcement among a specialized group, this new policy has been reported by media outlets across the nation.

The outpouring of support has been immense. So, predictably, has the backlash. With everyone taking sides, I cannot remain silent.

Anyone who follows me should probably have noticed, even if I am not always vocal about it, that I am not and never have been in favor of the current administration’s activities. I agree with Ravelry that support for Trump is support for (among many other things) white supremacy, racism, sexism, terrorism, and in general “man’s inhumanity to man” (with apologies to women and non-male-identifying people).

If that’s all you need to hear to boycott me and my books and patterns, it’s been nice having your support thus far and I’ll be happy to have you back if/when you learn to see all human beings as worthy of respect and dignity and the Earth as worthy of protection. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the situation, by all means read on.

First of all, it is 100% possible to lead a non-racist life and still be a racist. You can volunteer at homeless shelters, donate to charities that help the disadvantaged, have cordial conversations with your immigrant neighbors, support black-owned businesses, etc. But if you support Trump, you are either actively supporting or being willing to ignore the behaviors and policies that increase homelessness, maintain inequality, stigmatize immigration, and further racial discrimination (all of which is just the tip of the iceberg).

Second, to the countless people who are incensed that knitters are getting “political”: Where have you been for the past few years? Decades? Craftivism is not a new thing, and you probably couldn’t have missed the “pussy hat” phenomenon from 2016. Ravelry is, among other things, a collection of forums about countless topics. The only thing that its users have in common is the fact that they knit (or crochet, etc). Forums exist to allow knitters with other common interests to converse on those topics. Forums/groups definitely exist with political leanings or agendas. This is because, (surprise), knitters are people! Just because I am a knitter doesn’t mean that all I ever do is knit, and that I have no opinions on anything else. You may go to Ravelry to escape from the world, but there are other perfectly valid reasons to use it.

Third, to those who think it is a bad precedent to set to ban supporters of a particular president: this is not about right vs left anymore. Trump’s actions are so harmful, so shameless, so detrimental not only to the livelihoods of a majority of Americans but to life on this planet in general, that I think we can legitimately call this a fight between good and evil. There is no precedent for this. No president has done more to destroy the country he ostensibly leads than this one. The harm he has done and is doing is only beginning; we will not see the true results of some of it until much later, well after it’s too late to fix it properly.

Finally, from a conversation with my mother, a university professor who has taught (among other things) social movement theory, it is not unusual — indeed, it is normal — for dissent to take root in small communities, even not-explicitly-political ones. As dissent is normalized in innocuous places, it becomes part of our day-to-day lives. As dissent becomes mainstream, those who normalize racism/white supremacy, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric/action, sexism, etc, will find themselves with fewer platforms from which to spread their hatred. Expect Ravelry’s decision to embolden other places where hatred has a foothold. I look forward to the news of these decisions.

Thank you for reading this far. Before I sign off, I want to say that, even on Ravelry, our work is not done. While they have taken one step in the right direction, there are plenty of people who have left the platform due to bullies hiding behind digital anonymity, causing real-life problems. From some of these people, I have heard that Ravelry’s response has essentially been “get over it” — so I am hoping their exercise in compassion here will inform their treatment of similar, non-politically-motivated issues on their site.

17 thoughts on I Stand with Ravelry

  1. Your ending about the “get over it” you couldn’t be more right. Ravelry still needs to clean up its own tolerance towards forum bullying, anymous “disagree” button and similar. Not all impressed with their current intolerance stance nor theur current wide-spread notoriety exposure on social media-until Ravelry powers that be take a hard look at their in-house bullying. I do agree 100% no-tolerance… BUT clean thine own house first.

  2. Politics,racism, has no place on ravelry or any other knitting, spinning site. It is for knitting crochet only period. If people want to comment on stupid Trump do on the I hate Trump site and same goes for racism.

  3. The personal is political, whether you choose to acknowledge or ignore that fact. I’m glad Ravelry and this blog have taken a clear and bold stand.

  4. Excellent comments. Thank you.
    Another website by a national commercial business has also been very outspoken. Penzey’s spices. They have some brick and mortar stores but they started out as mail order and now are on line. Owner Bill Penzeys has been very outspoken in his feelings against trump. I know he must have lost some business, but has also gained. Penzeys Spices has a Facebook page and a website penzeys.com

    It’s encouraging to see social and commercial enterprises taking a stand against what has become a demolition derby.

  5. Good point! I have a Penzey’s near me and am on their mailing list. They are an inspiration — yes, they lost some customers, but gained far more. I think the Trump people far overestimate their relevance — and once companies realize that they may take a short-term hit but a long-term gain, I hope more will take these kinds of stands.

  6. I agree that racism has no place on Ravelry, but I don’t agree that politics has no place. Ravelry is not like any other fiber-crafting site. It’s a full-blown social network, which means that people (as I said in my post) use it for many different things. It’s just that the thing that brings us together is fiber crafting — but that’s not the only thing that keeps us together. You are lucky if you can separate your politics from certain parts of your online life. Not everyone has that luxury.

  7. Thank you for your post. Penzey’s took this stand a few months ago and I believe their business is going strong. I’m buying something from your site today as a thank you.

  8. Well said Alasdair! And I love Penzey’s Spices! I’ve been following them on FB for a couple of years now and buy spices from them because they’ve taken a bold stance.

  9. Well done Alasdair! I agree that Ravelry has been less-than-helpful in the face of bullying and mean spiritedness. I know that no one wants to deal with it, but if you are a platform, especially one that allows people to be anonymous, then you should be very clear and very firm in what is acceptable behavior. That they have done better than other SM platforms is to their credit. That they waited so long to do anything is sad. I can’t do the big boards because of all the spewing.

  10. I applaud you, Alasdair! Well said.

  11. Thank you. Beautifully put. Life IS politics! And looking forward to seeing you at Craftworks!

  12. Came to find/purchase the hat B&L posted

    Decided not to after seeing this

    A whole generation that needs a safe space put on your big girl/boy/whatever alphabet stop looking for excuses.

  13. To Ravelry Iswrong: I’m sure you won’t see this, but that’s not the point. It must be nice to be in a place of such privilege that your safe space encompasses the whole world, and you don’t even need to think about it. Others are not so lucky, and they deserve safety as much as you do. Since they don’t always have the ability to carve out their own safe spaces, it is up to those of us who are able to listen and help keep our fellow people safe. Only then can they thrive.

  14. Well said and thanks for saying it! I remember meeting Jess and Casey when they had only about 100K members. So proud of what they have created.

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