Pussyhat

2017 Women's March

A pussyhat is a pink, crafted hat, created in large numbers by thousands of participants involved with the United States 2017 Women’s March. They are the result of the Pussyhat Project, a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, a screenwriter and architect located in Los Angeles, to create pink hats to be worn at the march for visual impact.

In response to this call, crafters all over the United States began making these hats using patterns provided on the project Web site for use with either a knitting method, crocheting and even sewing with fabrics.

The project’s goal was to have one million hats handed out at the Washington March. The hats are made using pink yarns or fabrics and were originally designed to be a positive form of protest for Trump’s inauguration. Suh and Zwieman worked with Kat Coyle, the owner of a local knitting supply shop called The Little Knittery, to come up with the original design. The project launched in November 2016 and quickly became popular on social media with over 100,000 downloads of the pattern to make the hat.

The name refers to the resemblance of the top corners of the hats to cat ears (as opposed to being a representation of a woman’s vagina) and attempts to reclaim the derogatory term ‘pussy,’ a play on Trump’s widely reported 2005 remarks that women would let him ‘grab them by the pussy.’ Many of the hats worn by marchers in Washington, D.C., were created by crafters who were unable to attend and wished them to be worn by those who could, to represent their presence. Those hats optionally contained notes from the crafters to the wearers, expressing support.

They were distributed by the crafters, by yarn stores at the points of origin, carried to the event by marchers, and also distributed at the destination. The production of the hats caused reported shortages of pink knitting yarn across the United States. On the day of the march, NPR compared the hats to the ‘Make America Great Again’ hats worn by Trump supporters, in that both represented groups that had at one point been politically marginalized; both sent ‘simultaneously unifying and antagonistic’ messages; and both were simple in their messages.

Critics have stated that the pink color of the pussyhats does not represent transgender women, or women of color whose ‘genitals are more likely to be brown than pink.’ The color pink actually came from the strong association of pink with femininity, as well as ‘caring, compassion, and love,’ not a literal representation of anatomy.

Although Suh says that the hat was never intended to reflect the idea that ‘women’s issues are predicated on the possession of the pussy,’ critics argue that it is exclusionary. Suh admitted, ‘I think ‘pussy’ refers to the female anatomical part.’ However, Suh also noted that ‘pussy’ is ‘a word that’s used to shame people who are feminine … whether they are men, women [or] genderqueer. And I think what it comes down to is that femininity is really disrespected in our society.’ Suh believes the Pussyhat Project knitters were frustrated that the most intimate part of their bodies is often used as a catchword for weakness, and that they ‘want[ed] to reclaim that word.’

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