I’ve been thinking lately about Dr. Seuss’s story The Sneetches. For those of you who don’t know, there are two kinds of Sneetches; ones with stars on their bellies, and ones without. The star-bellied Sneetches are always having all kinds of fun; barbecues on the beach, baseball games, and many other seaside activities. They’re also in the habit of excluding the non-star-bellied Sneetches, who mope around on the beach, doing nothing except wishing they had stars on their bellies.
Then, one day, along comes Sylvester McMonkey McBean, an intrepid entrepreneur who, for the nominal fee of three dollars, offers the non-star-bellied Sneetches a trip through his star-making machine. They jump at the chance, and a short while later every Sneetch on the beach has a star on his/her belly. The appalled star-bellied Sneetches (the original ones) realize that they can’t tell their social classes apart anymore. McMonkey McBean is prepared for this. He introduces his star-removal machine with the promise of guaranteeing societal order at ten bucks a pop.
Chaos ensues. Stars are removed, stars are applied and it’s not too much later that the Sneetches are sitting in an exhausted heap, unable to tell each other apart. Sylvester McMonkey McBean leaves town, dollars spewing from his truck/sled/thing, declaring that, ” . . . you can’t teach a Sneetch.”
The reason I’ve been thinking about this story is because I realized that, with Yarn Boy, I’m pulling the same stunt as Mr. McBean, albeit with gender distinctions, and not with something so simple as green belly stars. True, I’m not exactly raking in the bucks, nor am I taking advantage of those expectations for nefarious ends, but it does make me realize that when it comes to gender roles, we’re still pretty much in the dark ages. Only two Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs; women’s average salaries in 1999 were 84% of men’s; when we ask whether Hillary could really make a run for president in 2008, we’re not really asking about her politics. And further down the list, a male knitter is still a big deal.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the attention. I’m having buttloads of fun with this website, and I know I’m only pulling a small McBean. Exploiting gender expectations for a knitting web site isn’t on the same level as emphasizing race distinctions so you can sell guns to gangs, say, or playing on religious differences so that you can start a war. At the same time, wouldn’t it be nice if, one day, the reaction to Yarn Boy was, “So what?”
But enough of that. I just finished knitting the hand warmers from Stitch and Bitch Nation: