In the wake of the exposure of movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s long history of sexual harassment, women have taken to social media to share other stories of sexual harassment, often under the hashtag #MeToo. One image that has gone viral in association with these posts comes from the Badass Cross Stitch Instagram account.
This fabulous account belongs to Shannon Downey, who calls herself a “craftivist” and declares “The resistance will be stitched!” Her website explains further, saying that her work is meant to “inspire, enable, encourage, push boundaries, change shit, and engage.” Naturally, I’m obsessed.
I was also interested to see what Downey went through in the past week, as her design popped up everywhere with no credit attached, especially after a number of white, male celebrities shared it. Downey wasn’t having it, as she explains in this Instagram post.
The past 24 hours has been BANANAS. The internet is a strange, terrible, and magical place all at the same time. So many of you have been AMAZING and I am officially deputizing you. You have had my back and gracefully and generously helped people connect my work to me. THANK YOU. I firmly believe that women need to be LOUD and claim ownership for their work, their art, and their gifts so as not to be ERASED. The “boys will be boys” piece that I made was created almost a year ago in response to the Trump “grab her by the pussy” bullshit. It went viral yesterday because a famous white man posted it to show support for women in light of this #HarveyWeinstein madness. It was then shared by several other white male celebrities, which is when it took off. That’s awesome….except they didn’t take the time to consider the WOMAN who created the piece. The artist who used a medium that has gotten no respect (because it was women’s work) to make a statement about the privilege that most boys and men get just because they have a dick. So I asked for credit. I will NOT apologize for asking for credit for my work. And so I salute you fine humans who stood up for me. Now, do I think anyone shared it without credit with malintent? Nope. But I believe this was an opportunity to have a conversation. Remember how I said it started with a few celebrities? Well guess what…they reached out to me. They apologized. We had positive conversations about the visibility of women and what the path of allyship means. It was exactly what I had hoped for….meaningful conversations. When we erase women, when we disconnect them from their contributions, when we make them invisible – we PAVE THE FUCKING WAY FOR THE HARVEY WEINSTEINS of the world. It is ALL connected. I salute the women who are raising their voices and sharing their stories, and demanding respect. I salute the women who aren’t able to raise their voices right now and I want you to know that I GOT YOU. I will raise my voice over and over and louder and louder until it is safe for you to join me. For the men who get it – thank you-get to work helping your brethren get woke. For the men who are crying “not all men” and “why are you…
Her point that her medium of cross stitch doesn’t get respect as an art because it’s “women’s work” reminded me of the jewelry exhibit I saw in Paris that dealt with the way jewelry is similarly dismissed. That makes me extra happy that Downey didn’t stand for being denied credit. Instead she received apologies and had meaningful conversations with some of the people who shared her work.
She’s now selling t-shirts, phone cases and other items, with all proceeds going to the nonprofit she works for, Advancing Justice Chicago. Go shopping here, and don’t forget to follow the Badass Cross Stitch Instagram account. I’m especially into this barbed wire design.
What's your prison? Chatting with a gal who said "my work is my prison". And it struck me. I started asking other folks what their prisons were (I'm a great time at a party ;). I stitched this barbed wire as I considered the question. Now I ask you…what's your current prison? —- #stitchersofinstagram #stitching #handembroidery #fiberart #fiberartist #feministart #feministfiberart #barbedwire #embroidery
Shout out to Vogue for doing this story on Downey. That was the first time I saw the proper credit!
UPDATED TUESDAY, OCT. 17, TO ADD: Speaking of giving credit, journalist Britni Danielle pointed out that the “Me Too” hashtag — which went viral after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted it — was actually started by a black woman named Tarana Burke 10 years ago. Of course, this is far from the first time that black women have worked for years on a project only to see it get “whitewashed.” In an interview with Ebony, Burke said:
“In this instance, the celebrities who popularized the hashtag didn’t take a moment to see if there was work already being done, but they also were trying to make a larger point. I don’t fault them for that part, I don’t think it was intentional but somehow sisters still managed to get diminished or erased in these situations.”
Go to metoo.support to find out more about Burke’s work.