owlectomy: A young silver-haired man knitting with lime green yarn. (knitting)
I do not want to talk about being mad about the election.

I will talk about being mad about knitting!

(Non-mad note: I stayed home sick from work today and made a substantial amount of progress on a cabled sweater. I learned how to fix an improperly crossed cable several rows down, which impresses me very much! I have always been the type to launch myself into projects without being scared of whether I had the skills to complete them -- except for sweaters; they're just too expensive to screw up -- but I have to admit my skills are getting pretty decent there.)

The book that has aroused my ire is Knits Men Want. It is a book of patterns that are supposed to avoid the things that men dislike in knitted gifts: bright colors, gaudy colorwork, lacy stitch patterns, and so on and so forth. Okay, even if I mind the gendered slant, I can admit that there are a lot of people who prefer plainer patterns, myself included. I am knitting a plainish gray sweater now, albeit one with some super-fancy cabling on the sleeves. However.

It's kinda the whole subtext of my book, Knits Men Want. Even if you find it boring to knit, so plain, so monochromatic, if he wants it, knit it anyway.


So, like, it's not enough that I'm hypothetically going to spend weeks and weeks knitting Hypothetical Man socks for his hypothetical large-size feet (and I know how long it takes to knit socks for big feet!) -- I also have to make sure it's the right color and the right kind of pattern, even if that means I spend weeks knitting plain brown or navy socks? I'm not asking Hypothetical Guy to suck it up and wear pink-and-yellow lacy socks, but if he's going to be that picky... he can maybe buy his own socks? Or, heaven forfend, knit his own socks?

I'm all for taking into account people's own likes and dislikes and allergies, and not imposing your own idea that someone would look adorable in a reindeer sweater on someone who doesn't want to wear a reindeer sweater. But for the amount of time invested that a knitted gift represents, I feel like it's just another way of devaluing women's labor to say that the ultimate arbiter of its value is the man who hates the reindeer sweather, rather than the woman who spent so many weeks making it.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
Dilbert creator Scott Adams posted an article on why there wouldn't be any authors in the future because everything's going to be free.

I posted on Twitter:

We're going to see new models in the future, but a world where people care about art is a world where artists get paid.

And if our future is a world where people don't care about art -- I can't begin to contemplate it.


And I wanted to take a minute -- and more than 140 characters -- to square that with what I believe about gift economies.

Because I believe that gift economies are fantastic. And I believe that gift economies are fantastic for art more than they are necessarily fantastic for things like shoes and iPods.

It is excellent when people create things for free. The question is, do you have enough time for it? If I'm working full-time, and also trying to write at a reasonable pace, then I'm cutting out nearly all TV, cutting my social life down to the bone, and probably not doing my laundry as often as I should -- and I don't have a spouse or kids, and nobody cares if my supper is Cheerios out of the box.

So, to me, saying that artists will create for free is kind of like saying teachers should teach for the pure joy of teaching so you don't have to pay them much. Even if you have an intense passion for it, even if you would do it for free, you can't choose to do it for free if you want to keep yourself fed and housed. Or, you can choose to do it for free, but then you still have to find something to spend 8 hours a day on to pay the bills. And I don't know how you get Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment if you've got a world where all the writers have day jobs and no hope of being paid for their writing.

I am gambling that, collectively, that's not the future we're going to accept.

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owlectomy

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