Sunday, April 30, 2017

ChemKnits at the Boston March for Science

On April 22, my family joined thousands to March for Science in Boston.  I marched with Keith (my husband), "Lucky" (3.5), "Rowdy" (15 months), and my brother J.  I have a lot to say, so this post will be a long one.  I will punctuate my reflections on the March for Science and where we go from here with photos of my family at the march.   There are a lot of them! It started sprinkling as we went to get into the car so I decided to leave my DSLR at home and to rely on my cell phone.  Most of the pictures were taking just before the beginning of the Children's rally so they don't capture the huge size of the crowd.  

The ChemKnits Family Marching for Science in their GENEie hats!

Why I Marched for Science

I marched for science to support evidence based legislation and funding for scientific research, science education, and science outreach.  Some people think that science isn't political, but I disagree.  The majority of research in this country is funded by the federal government, NIH, NSF, DOD, and the DOE all fund research at universities.  I believe that the public has a right to see the results of research that their tax dollars fund AND have these results explained to them.

I think that it is ridiculous for politicians to demand cures for illnesses and propose cuts to the NIH.  I am afraid of the government censoring data (eg Climate Science Data) that doesn't support their political position.  You change your hypothesis to support your data, not the other way around!  

I marched to show my elected officials here in Massachusetts and in Washington that I care about our future.  We need to fund that future to protect it.  

March for Science Boston

March for Science Boston - just before the start of the Children's Rally

The organizers of the Boston March for Science really took families into account.  They had a kids corner set up with entertainment, speakers and activities focused on children.  There was a sensory break area for children (or adults) who might need it and a breastfeeding tent for "any mothers who would prefer privacy while breastfeeding."  As a mother who has spent a total of almost 3 years breastfeeding I really appreciated the language.

 My sign read "Science Matters.  Let's fund our future."  We secured the sign to the top of our stroller.  You can see the sign on the front of the stroller in many of the photos, but once it started to rain we raised it back up to help shield the kids.  I learned an important lesson.  Don't use washable makers to make a sign if you want it to hold up in the rain.  The colors started washing off of the card board!

Although it rained, and it rained hard for a period of time, the rain stopped and we were able to carry on with the march.  The weather was raw and chilly, so the boys both had hats on underneath their GENEie headbands.  (Rowdy is actually wearing his GENEie headband on top of a GENEie hat.  Since I had knit a matching set I wanted them to wear them!)  I think that the additional hats helped the boys keep the headbands on their heads for the march.

Lucky and Rowdy made signs for the march, too.  Lucky's quoted Dinosaur Train, a PBS show that is one of his favorites, "A hypothesis is an idea you can test!"  Rowdy's was focused on stickers and scribbles, but he made a bigger statement as he carried around a blow up globe some marchers gave him.  

We arrived at the march before the kids event started.  We knew that we were pushing nap time, and we wanted to attend as much as we could.  We spent most of our time at the March for Science around the kids area which, while crowded, had a lot more space so we could keep the stroller moving and the kids happy.  There were a lot of different science activities set up for the kids.  Lucky might have enjoyed some but they weren't appropriate for 15 month old Rowdy.  

Some of our dear friends joined us at the march, and I was more than happy to set them up with some hand knit science hats.  For a while our boys were more interested in the construction equipment then the rally!  Did they pick the children's corner for this reason? Probably not but Lucky loved running around saying "March for Science!" and was so happy to have found his friend.

With the rain and the crowd, the boys lasted much longer than I expected.  However, I wish that we were able to stay for more of the event.  Lucky was ready to keep going but Rowdy wanted to be able to run, and it wasn't safe to let him back out of the stroller when the crowds were so thick.  He is much faster than he looks!

Lucky putting his hats back on all by himself.  
Lucky decided to try on my GENEie Pussyhat.  

The poor weather didn't keep us from Marching for Science.  Our goal of the day was to show up and show that we care for Science.  To add to the numbers.  To use our presence as our voice.  I hope that we were heard.  

Intersectionality and the March for Science

The reaction to the GENEie hats and headbands has been overwhelming, and 99% positive.  Then I started seeing some comments like the following: 
"you had your march for women leave us poor scientists alone"
"I am saddened by the selfish greed of women to unfocus from earth and science by instead being pussys in a hat."
"Now be brave and support earth day and science without focusing on your pussy..." 
The implication that women are separate from scientists is exactly why I wore a GENEie Pussyhat to the March for Science.  Being a women and supporting Women's issues is not being unfocused on Earth and Science issues. There are Women's issues within the field of Science and within science outreach. Sexual harassment and gender discrimination occur at all levels of science education and employment. (Remember #DistractinglySexy?) 

My outfit for the March for Science

When I was in 6th grade I aced my math class (102.4% average).  I did very well on the algebra aptitude test, well enough to skip a year of math and start Algebra when I started middle school.  My female math teacher discouraged me from skipping ahead BECAUSE I WAS A GIRL.  She didn't discourage my male classmates from skipping.  I didn't take her advice and I am grateful that I followed my interests.  
"[Rebecca] you draw attention to womans issues by being there as a woman. Why do you need so much to use a pussy hat as well to identify you?" 
I don't NEED a pussyhat to identify me. My support for Women's Rights and my support for Science define me as a person. I designed the GENEie Pussyhat to show my support for these issues that are close to my heart. I had designed other DNA hat knitting patterns but wanted to create something that was sciency but still screamed of resistance. After the Women's March in January the square hat shape, aka a kitty hat aka the Pussyhat, is now a symbol of the resistance. I chose to wear a GENEie Pussyhat to the March for Science because I identify with this resistance.

My outfit adjusted for the cooler April 22 weather

Some marchers recycled their pink pussyhats from the Women's March, others reknit them in green. Some marchers wore other science themed hats, and still others wore no hat at all. The important thing is that we showed up to March for Science on April 22. 

As Winter turns to Spring there are many marches planned. There is going to be a lot of intersection between these marches. Whether you are marching for Science (April 22), Climate Change (April 29), Women, Immigration, LGBTQIA, Black Lives Matter, Education, Healthcare, against Islamophobia, against antisemistism, or anything else, you can find issues that intersect within these broad categories. It is important not to judge fellow marchers for WHY they march, but to support that they are marching alongside you.

Since I'm talking about intersectionality, I want to mention that while I think that the Pussyhat Project has been a powerful uniting force, some women feel excluded by the project.  Impact is greater than intent.  The intent of the Pussyhat project was to represent women by reclaiming the word "pussy" (a word often used as an insult) and reclaim the color pink (associated with femininity and baby girls) as a powerful color.  The impact, however, is that some people feel excluded by this symbol and feel that these hats only represent white cis-women.  I'm not asking anyone to stop making or wearing pussyhats.  Many people (men and women) identify with this symbol.  However, I think that it is important that we are cognizant of the fact that some groups feel excluded so we can make an effort to be more inclusive in the movement going forward.  If you would like to read more about this I recommend the following articles: Pink 'Pussyhat' Creator Addresses Criticism Over NameHow ‘Pussy Hats’ Made Me Feel Excluded — And Then Welcomed — At The Women’s March, and Are Pussyhats Inherently Transphobic? 

GENEies at the March for Science

The first GENEie was published at the beginning of February, not even 3 months ago.  There are already over 387 GENEie projects on Ravelry, 274 tagged as finished, 252 with photos uploaded.  And this is just Ravelry!  The GENEie Pussyhat and the GENEie (Cable Version) are now my most popular designs in the database.  Some people don't use Ravelry and others use one project page for multiple finished objects.  I have never had such a response to any of my designs.  I'm so glad that these hats resonated with so many people.

All of the hats I knit for the March for Science.  (The original pink GENEie pussyhat is not pictured since it was already delivered to my friend.)  

I knit a number of GENEies and other science themed headbands (Ice Cap Aquacessories, Glucose Headband, dopamine headband, and an applique resistor headband) for the March for Science.  The weather was so cold and raw that it was funny we were so worried about making warm hats that couldn't be used for the March for Science.

It was a joy to cross paths with so many knitters at the Boston March for Science! Thank you for letting me come up all excited to you. This is the first time I've ever seen my designs knit by others in person!  It was a joy to meet, talk and hug you. I didn't take pictures with everyone, but I saw at least 10 GENEie hats and headbands! (Including a child essay winner who was wearing a plasmid headband!) Beyond my designs, it was a pleasure to see all of the different science hats (brain hats, earth hats, resistor hats, and many more) people created to share their support and dedication to science. I look forward to taking the next steps with all of you.  

The first time I ever found my designs on the street!

What's Next? 

The March for Science is not the end of this journey, but a step along a journey.  What can you do?  Call your elected officials.  There are a lot of websites out there to help you out, I personally like  You enter your zip code, select an issue you care about and the site provides the phone numbers of your elected officials with a sample script of what to say.   How can your elected officials represent you if you don't tell them your position?  Show up at town halls and meet and greets.  Pay attention to local races, since these are the people who may become part of the federal government someday.

Yesterday there was a march focused on climate change (the People's Climate Movement). There are many other local and national marches planned.  Pay attention and use your voice.  I know that I plan to use mine.  

ChemKnits is constantly evolving.  You have watched me grow as a knitter and designer and have supported me as I've experimented with other crafts. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.  ChemKnits has always been a personal blog and it will remain a blog about my personal crafting journey.  However, I feel like I'm only getting started with Craftivism and this will continue to make the occasional appearance here.  I want to create patterns and projects to show my support for different groups and causes.  I want to continue to use my voice as ChemKnits to speak up for equality.  I look forward to sharing many creative projects with you in the future.