In order to take on the gender inequality, a group of men in South American country Chile have come up with a new idea. Every month, this group of Chilean men gather in a public space in the capital Santiago and start knitting.
But for these hombres tejedores (men who knit in Spanish), knitting isn’t just a passion, it’s their way to fight against gender inequality because knitting is still largely considered to be a chore done by women.
It is also a way to promote a society that is more tolerant and less macho.
In business district of the capital Santiago, you might come across men wearing suits and ties, knitting. For many, it’s a novel sight, but these men want to fight the sexist norms or clichés within the Chilean society. These men created their group a year ago to push for change in a country they find “too patriarchal”. Ricardo Higuera, 36, has been part of the hombres tejedores group since its launch.
“The collective was founded by the artist Claudio Castillo, who wanted to create a space where men felt comfortable just sitting around and knitting. At first, he gave classes where guys could come to learn to knit and weave. However, on June 18, on International Knitting Day, we decided to try knitting outside, in the street. Passers-by were surprised to see a group of men knitting!” Higuera was quoted by Observer.France24.com
“Since then, we’ve made a point to gather in public spaces, where everyone can see us, at least once a month. Our hobby has turned political! Our group is made up of 12 guys between the ages of 26 and 42. We all work in different professions. What brings us together is the fact that we grew up in a patriarchal society that teaches us that, as men, we have to play a specific role: a man shouldn’t be sensitive, he shouldn’t cry, he has to be strong,” added Higuera.
n just a year, the group’s Facebook page has garnered more than 85,000 likes. Other men in different Latin American countries — including Brazil and Uruguay — have also been inspired to pick up their knitting needles. According to Higuera, the hombres tejedores regularly receive messages from all over the world from people who want to launch similar projects. Recently, they were contacted by organisations in Germany and Ukraine.
“We were taught that certain activities are reserved for women, like knitting. Men are supposed to do other activities. However, we believe strongly that these gender inequalities should disappear from modern society. Firstly because women suffer the most from this machismo. However, we also think men should be able to break free from this “role” that they were instructed to fill,” adds Higuera.
Those who think that knitting in open is an easy in Chile need to listen to Higuera who says that for a man knitting in open in Chilean society is dangerous because in Chilean society knitting is considered to be a job for women because they are seen weak.
Knitting in open may invite trouble as other men could come and harass a man who’s knitting because he’s doing women’s work. “In Chile, it’s hard for a man to sit on a bench and get out his knitting. It might even be dangerous. Other men could come and harass him because he is doing “women’s work,” adds Higuera.
“All of this comes from the fact that women are seen as “weak”, so a man who knits must be weak, too! That’s what we want to fight. We are fighting for a society that is more tolerant and that has more gender equality. But, more than anything, we want to transform the image of what a man should be within Chilean society, so that each person can live how he or she wants,” says Higuera.