The pussyhat – a piece of design history in the making.
By Mads Quistgaard, Design Partner at Urgent.Agency
Today is International Women’s Day and women all over the world will be showing up at demonstrations and marches wearing pink pussyhats – a new cultural and political symbol designed as a spontaneous response to the misogynist utterances about attractive women made by President Donald Trump, most famously “Grab’em by the pussy”!
The pink knitted hat with its characteristic shape has singlehandedly revived the political trend from the 1970’s of expressing one’s political opinion using a piece of clothing. In my opinion, the pussyhat is nothing short of an ingenious design with the potential to survive as a historic, political icon.
The pussyhat is the accumulation of several aspects – the perfect storm of modern day protesting, one might say. First of all, the hat is an expression of a spontaneous and powerful counter-attack from the citizens of the US. That gives the hat legitimacy and relevance. Two attributes that one cannot take for granted when it comes to design and which seem to catapult the hat from political symbol to social movement.
Secondly, this knitted hat is a democratic product in more ways than one. Anyone with the patience to (learn how to) knit has the opportunity to create their own version of the hat according to personal taste. The pussyhat is thereby not a uniform but a theme with variation. The democratic virtues attached to the hat are amplified by the fact that the hat is inseparable from its owner – one human voice, one individual political statement. A potent visual reminder of the feminist cause in its own right, the hat – when multiplied at demonstrations and marches – creates an impressive pink ocean of anger and disappointment at misogynist tendencies and policies.
As with the Danish so-called “hønsestrik” -movement (hen-knitting) of the 1970’s, which arose as an outlet for female frustration, the pussyhat is linked to the act of knitting and crocheting. Traditional crafts associated with harmless housewife pursuits. But it is exactly this combination of knitting, spontaneity, homemade craft and the distinctly female domain – embodied by the girlish colour of pink – and not to forget an unforgettable name, that propels the hat from random design object to true icon of rebellion and subversive activity.
And of course, the name – pussyhat – carries a powerful and provocative message that affords women the power to take back the inherently derogatory term pussy and consolidate its power where it belongs — with its rightful owners!
Hats off (and on) to the women of the world! Happy Women’s Day!
Published by: Urgent.Agency in News and views