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Women's rights? Out come knitting needles

April 22, 2012

I took Alice, my visiting mother-in-law, for a ride in the Avenues one day, heading to Hatch’s for a chocolate fix, when we stumbled upon a bicycle rack covered with knitting. The knitting encased the entire structure, kind of like a cocoon, in different-colored stripes and with various types of yarn.

Alice had never seen anything like it. I told her we’re in the midst of a fad, with rogue knitters scurrying about under cover of night, knitting as if they were graffiti artists, decorating trees, utility meters and fences.

 
I told her someone once knitted over an entire automobile and displayed it at the City and County Building, with a mannequin in the driver’s seat.

Then, just a week or so after Alice went home, Chris and I stumbled upon a knitted signpost on 7th East. Chris posed in front of it and I sent a photo to her. She thought it was a hoot.

I mention all this in helpful prologue to our topic today, which is knitted uteruses. (See how you kind of needed a prologue?)

I've been reading Jezebel for a while now. It’s a delightfully irreverent feminist online magazine ("Jezebel, home of shiny, happy ladies") that purports to cover celebrity, sex and fashion for women. But they sure do talk politics a lot, such as their recent piece, "The Ten Scariest Places to Have Ladyparts in America," which is not my topic today but does bring us back to uteruses.  (Surprisingly, perhaps, Utah is not listed as one of "the Ten Scariest," despite Gov. Gary Herbert’s signed mandate for the new three-day waiting period for an abortion. The law takes effect May 7.)

An article, "Knit a Uterus to Donate to a Congressman in Need," details a campaign to create uteruses — with fallopian tubes and ovaries — that are knitted, crocheted or sewn with fabric. In the accompanying photo, they look like silhouettes of girls with raised pigtails. The campaign organizers plan to mail one to each man in the U.S. House of Representatives on the supposition that, after receiving his own uterus, he will be able to leave everyone else’s alone.

Each cheery, cuddly-looking uterus comes with a message from the knitter, such as "Hands off my uterus! Here's one for you!" The uteruses are then delivered to congressional offices in the Cannon, Rayburn and Longworth House Office Buildings. I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

Male intern from BYU: "Uh, Brother Chaffetz, it looks like someone has sent you this knitted head of Pippi Longstocking! Why would someone do that? Oh, look, there’s a note ... ."

Thank heavens women can have a sense of humor about these things. It keeps us from reaching for sharp objects. Come to think of it, though, a well-placed knitting needle or two might not be that much different poked into a congressman than the "10-inch ultrasound wand" that some lawmakers want to see poked into a woman's uterus before an abortion.

If you're an uppity woman or a supportive man wanting to participate, you can visit www.governmentfreevjj.com to get patterns and knitting tutorials. You can also find the mailing address of your congressional representative or even request that your knitted uterus be hand-delivered to him by a volunteer.

Hooray for campaigns that rely on good cheer and wholesome, non-violent activities like knitting to get a message across.

And, really, Gayle Ruzicka’s knitting needles have been the only ones clacking out messages to lawmakers for far too long.
- - --
Barb Guy writes a biweekly column for Sunday Opinion. She lives in Salt Lake City.

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