Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Sexism and Sewing

A family well-clothed and a home well-appointed are responsibilities of every homemaker. To know and to recognize good construction in clothing and fabric furnishings largely determine how much value is bought with every dollar spent. Savings are greatest when sewing is done at home, if done well (Singer, Foreward 1955).  
Oh my goodness! Stop the presses! (I've always wanted to say that).

This text, found in the opening paragraph of the Singer Sewing Skills Reference Book, nearly has me speechless. No wonder there has been a decline in home sewing in the later part of the last century. The text is polluted with sexist language and dripping with guilt. It is enough to make me want to put down my sewing needles. But I continue reading, it is kind of like trying not to look at a car accident.
Skillful, high quality sewing is within the scope of every woman. Once a few simple, basic principles are learned, it is only a matter of practice until the skill is developed that makes sewing a pleasure. Good sewing habits are reflected in everything that one makes and are easily developed when attention is deliberately directed toward them (Singer, Foreward).
Well, spank me with a measuring tape!

This just keeps on getting more and more entertaining. Now doesn't it? Of course, there was a decline in home sewing in the last century. With communication fashioned in this manner, I would be inclined to let my sewing machine collect dust too.

A masculine tone surrounds the mighty "SINGER Sewing Machines" that will tame train (into submission) the "women who already sew [and] those who are eager to learn to sew" (Singer, Foreward).

Oh, it is such a fascinating read both as a sewing manual and an artifact of 20th century technical writing. But I must put it down and head to bed. I can't wait to pick this up again tomorrow and discover what trickery lies between the pages.

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