“Men Who Sew Are Surgeons”

Stitched by: Josh Adair (@fallengentry)

Pattern designed by: This is my own creation.

When I first came across this pin cushion I couldn’t believe it. First, here was a lady we were encouraged to fill full of pins even though she was already holding her head in what appeared to be agony (did the creator intend ecstasy?). Then I picked her up and realized that somehow she had been lobotomized — de-brained entirely — in a perfectly precise manner. The back of her head had gone somewhere else entirely.

She was sutured into a life she couldn’t escape. I wondered then if she was owned by a surgeon.

I had to rescue her because I understood — if only in part — how she felt. Sewing and all sorts of stitching — when it comes to feminine people — has almost always been considered frivolous when it happened at home. Yet men who sew are conferred important titles like “tailor,” or “surgeon.” As I considered all this, I kept thinking of the nineteenth century and all those husbands who insisted upon involuntary surgeries for unruly women — clitoridectomies, especially, but later lobotomies, too. I imagined this woman suggesting that all sexes learn to sew for all sorts of purposes from repairing seams to surgeries and that her husband “insisted upon surgery instead.” As I embroidered that response onto the skirt of the second character, I made the stitches jagged and uneven, attempting to imagine her anger at receiving such a response.

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