Friday, 19 July 2019

constructive things other than aggravating people

Have finally mostly gotten over my desire to be the most hated person of the Japanese.
The silence of the last week means I've been stitching. Three projects are on the go simultaneously and this A-line skirt was the first to be finished last night. 

front of upcycle skirt by Pearl Moon

It is made entirely from used clothes and fabrics bought at my local Vinnies. Patched, stenciled and stitched by me. Denim and cotton fabrics. It took 30 hours to make.

back of upcycle skirt by Pearl Moon

I'm not fond of zippers so I sewed dome tape into the side seam. The skirt is lined too.


The pictures above and below shows earlier stages of patching the textile together.

The ongoing work in progress for today is this used denim jacket that I'm adding many hand stitched and embroidered details to. This picture was taken after I'd sewed on the appliques and stenciled various areas before the hand stitched details. A lot has been done since this picture was taken a week ago. Will show the finished result in a couple of days.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Intersectional Identities

A picture so another great big blog full of text doesn't scare readers away. This is a piece of textile I've been working on to use a sample piece in classes. A combination of patchwork, stencil and hand sewed running stitch. Its entirely made from used clothes and textiles so it has a nice soft feel and a faded look. The round holes are where I cut out circular motifs from another stenciled piece to applique onto the piece to the left.

I finished Ijeoma Oluo’ “So you want to talk about racism” a few days ago and found it very insightful for building on what was learned from “White Fragility”. I’ve been going back re-listening to many chapters and making notes on my thoughts.

In this blog I'll talk about Chapter 5. Over the next week or 2 I'll talk about my thoughts and reactions to other chapters. Another thing that really intrigued me was how Oluo calls Pacific Islanders "Asians". This really astounded me because as a 60 year old dual citizen of NZ/Aus we have occasionally been prompted by politicians to think our nations as part of Asia. But never have I heard someone just lump us in with Philippinos, Japanese, Tongans, Chinese, Koreans, Hawaiians, Samoans and more. I've always thought of Pacific Islanders as Polynesians and Melanesians and quite distinct from Chinese, Koreans and many other nationalities Oluo named. She doesn't clarify if she would include Maori and indigenous Australians as Asians but the chapter does seem to imply she would. However....I'm pretty sure she wouldn't think of me as an Asian! though my european ancestors lived in the Pacific for 125years +, I was born a 4th generation NZer and many in my family married Maori and had children.....anyway chapter 14 is a discussion for another day....

Of the 17 chapters in the book I found #5 – What is intersectionality and why do it need it? – the most challenging to get my head around. After 6 listenings I hope to be getting it right, through strangely in retrospect this should have been the one concept most easy for me to relate to personally. I hope to try to clarify it here as even Oluo acknowledges it is little known and often misunderstood but she regards it as a foundational to her work towards social justice.

Here is the Wikipedia link for Intersectionality

Essentially I understand intersectionality as the contention that every individual lives in several overlapping identities and that when engaging with others or addressing an issue that person can be operating from more than one or multiple of their identifications at once. Oluo urges social justice advocates to keep this in mind when engaging with others because it can lead to misunderstandings of various scale developing. For example – imagine two people talking about what is “white privilege” but 1 person is male, black, 30 years old, has a prison record, is currently unemployed and is poor, talking to a white female, 50 years old, college education with a high paying job who has never been unemployed. I’ve outlined a very stark hypothetical so it jumps out how the disparity in life experience means each individual cannot help but form very different world views and understandings of how the world operates.

Another discussion Oluo spends time clarifying in several chapters that neatly overlaps with what I read in White Fragility is why BIPOC will either withdraw or refuse to get engaged in discussions where they feel unheard, mocked/ridiculed, dismissed, take up too much of their time and energy or recognise as coming from the challengers default white privilege.

Here, I’m acknowledging that is what I’ve done in the last few weeks with my blogging and ignorant expectation that I deserved to be addressed. Now I’m understanding why the various people I’ve called on – Emily Ito, Aja Barber and Makiko Hastings – won’t talk to me. My approach to challenging the assertion that using the description kimono for a sewing pattern was an unacceptable cultural appropriation was found to be offensively aggressive. I think they might have felt an interaction would give me unwarranted recognition for a view that didn’t have any credibility in the way they see things.

I now get the point that there won’t be any acknowledgment or discussion and are no longer perplexed why they won’t say anything and understand there is no point in continuing to ask them to say something. They are not listening and don’t care and I wholly get it. If I had been able to approach my queries with more subtlety and open mindedness perhaps the situation wouldn’t have become so distressing. I am sorry Makiko Hastings.

As an Aspergers person that my way of saying things, viewing the world and asking questions can be irritating and offensive to neurotypicals (NTs) is quite a familiar place for me. By saying this I don’t want people to interpret it as an emotive manipulation to try to exculpate my offensiveness or make the pretence that my cognitive dissonance gives me a special license to be rudely oblivious. Its everybodys obligation to educate ourselves about civility, respectful interaction, social mores and expectations. Aspergers might merit me maybe a few more inches of rope than NTs, but not a lot more. I will do better in the future about applying way more mindfulness in the way I ask about things.

What NTs experience as my “confrontational” attitude has been a problem all my life. My very first school report said I had to learn to play more with the other kids. So even at 5 years old Mrs Brown my teacher picked up behavior she perceived as insular and anti social. Throughout my entire school life I had no interest in making friends or playing. Every lunch time spent reading the library was the best part of school. I learned to spell deoxyribonucleic acid when I was 11 and knew the 4 components of DNA.

I have been disliked, bullied and kicked out of every workplace I’ve been in because of my pedantic, obsessive and (perceived) aggressive attitudes. People either dislike me or hate me, at best I get indifference. In 1983 I was evicted from the most permissive alternative lifestyle community in New Zealand by 60 adults chanting “fuck off, fuck off” at the top of their lungs. They couldn’t stand having me there any longer after 2 years though I’d given a baby I wasn’t able to mother to a couple in their community to adopt as their own. I also have the dubious infamy of being sacked from working in 2 brothels, so unfriendly has my behavior been perceived. I didn’t take drugs or fall asleep on the job, I just preferred reading newspapers and books rather than talking to the other workers.

What I believe is trying to live with integrity by educating myself about things is often perceived by NTs to be snobbery, self righteousness, aggressiveness and anti social behaviour.

This is describing the main intersectional identity I have to negotiate getting through the world with every day. Life isn’t easy or a bed of roses for anybody so this is not a claim for special privileges but just hoping for some empathy for mistakes made.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

wish I had an asbestos kimono

On Sunday afternoon the offer I'd made to donate the proceeds of sales for the Sencha Kimono over 10 days ended. I sold 27 patterns for $1 (actually after paying shop fees I got 92c each) and one buyer paid the full price of $14 acknowledging it was going to be a donation. I already make an automatic  monthly donation of $20 to the ASRC but this morning I made an additional one off donation of $104, more than doubling what was raised.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Thank you to all those who bought the pattern. Our donation will assist someone who seeking asylum to live in Australia.

Today we are hearing Kim K has backed down on trademarking Kimohno

KK apology

I remain in awe of this womans genius marketing skills. It is no wonder she has clawed her way with steel talons to the top of a pyramid of "would be, if they could be" celebrities. Now she can double down profiting by capitalising on her newfound humility and desire to listen.

The independent clothing design businesses that changed their sewing pattern names also followed a similar script, though I'm pretty sure their initial naming came out of ignorance of the sensitivity, rather than a calculated marketing ploy like KK. Their apologies were so effusive and fulsome that some people cynically suggested they were using the situation for virtue signalling.

Throughout this week of moral panic I've been sloughing through my reading list about what is racism. In light of that it's been fascinating to observe how KK can get away with her activities with such marginal criticism. Being a POC seems to put her into an asbestos armor that protects her from being immolated in a racist polemical. If she were "white" the whole situation would have been a conflagration of white privilege accusations. How sweet for her.


I started writing a different post this morning but decided to delete it and address this instead.

Makiko Hastings is a Japanese ceramic artisan living in the UK. I follow her blog and Instagram. In blogging about the kimono naming issue I've read some of her comments and put links in past posts to what she has written. I'm publishing a comment I tried make in reply to what Makiko Hastings wrote me on her Instagram today but I may have been blocked.

So with some reluctance and a heavy heart, I put it out here in public.

A few days ago Makiko made a long comment on Instagram about feeling emotionally disturbed and that she was seeking professional help.

This what I said in a comment to that:

Much love to you Makiko. I'm saddened that so much has weighed you down recently. You have so much resilience to still pour so much love and inspiration into your art while at the same time feeling burdens pressing from the demands of the unfeeling outside world. Love will always give us the strength to get through and you are much loved!

A day later this how she responded to me:

 Hello Pearl. With all respect of you showing kindness here, I have to be honest with you, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Do you know why? This post was meant to be about cultural appropriation on naming kimono, yet again, as you might have guessed from my story, but I did not write about it in words in order to protect my energy, precisely because what it took for me to write and encounter some backlash last time I wrote about it, which you also left a comment on the grid so I thought you read my post (?). Anyway, following your message, I have read many blog posts in your site, and noticed that you are very strongly and almost obsessively disagreeing with my friend Emi Ito @little_kotos_closet and her work. You were even criticising her identity as an American Japanese to speak out about it, which I find it harmful. My upbringing might be different from hers, but I do respect her and her hard work, which required so much energy, pain and time. When people voice their hurt, it is not just personal, because C/A is not a personal matter. I actually mentioned her name in my blog and I stand with her in solidarity. Most of Japanese people might not voice as much, (which I also mentioned why) but that does not mean they don’t have one. I appreciate her action because she precisely gave me the courage to speak out.
So criticising her bitterly in your space, then coming to my space in a friendly manner, whilst both of us stand on the same ground talking about the same topic, it appears to me that your action is a contradiction, not consistent, and even making me feel unsafe to reply to you. I could not comprehend why you do so when I first saw your message, but now it makes me wonder if you are trying to ‘cherry pick’ me because I am a Japanese, and wanting me to justify what you do - making garment for profit, naming kimono. I feel fearful. I do not wish to go into the details of what you say in your blog in my space, but please be aware that your inconsistent action not just confuse the readers, but also is insensitive and can be harmful.

I saw this 4 hours later and tried to say this in reply, but I think my posts are either being blocked or possibly moderated: 

Makiko, I feel awful that you find my opinions inconsistent and offensive. I am confused why you think because I have strongly disagreed with Emi Itos opinion that means therefore I must dislike and disrespect all Japanese people? Nothing can be further from the truth…I do have the utmost respect for Japanese artisanship. I have acknowledged since the 1980s my admiration for Japanese fashion designers and how they influenced the clothing styles I love and publish as sewing patterns. Your work is beautiful and I admire it. I post that publicly to you because as an artist I know it is so important to get positive feedback from others. I feel sympathy when you discuss feeling hurt and struggling in the world and want to reach out to help you feel better. There are many, many other people I follow on Instagram that I make comments to in this same desire to be supportive.
On my blog I have tried to clarify and explain why I disagree with the kimono naming issue. I come at it from an academic understanding of what is defined as C/A and don’t believe kimono comes into that definition. At times it is true I have said some personal opinions about Emi Ito but that is becos I’m frustrated that she doesn’t speak. I tried to join her Instagram but was removed and blocked within minutes, I did take that personally. It does anger me that she has set herself up as an advocate and is happy to talk to people, media and publications that are supportive but censors and ignores any person that is too hard.
It is demanding, even exhausting when you take a position publicly, but that is part of the obligation if you want to put statements out into the world. I have been affected by my position too with trolling and angry people shaking their finger. I can deal with that. The hardest thing, as you yourself has acknowledged, is having time and energy taken away from your work. In the last 5 weeks I’ve probably reduced my studio time and output by 80%.
I respect your comment here to me, but feel hurt that you think I am such a small person that I can’t separate intellectual issues from people. I don’t automatically dislike people just because they have different opinions from me. I don’t disregard people because they come from different cultural backgrounds from me. I understand from what you’ve said here that you don’t separate my person from my opinions. Because of what I think and say you dislike me and would rather not have communications. This is truly hurtful to me and makes me feel sick that I’ve caused such distress to you. From now on I will only ever make anonymous likes and never comment again. Remove me if you feel better that way. I want to keep following you and other Japanese I like and respect becos it’s important to me to stay in touch with what your opinions are and how you feel about things. I don’t try to fill my world with only people that agree with me.

Lastly, can I say in self defence regarding Makiko suggesting I disingenuously ignored that her original post about being in pain was over the kimono issue. I am Aspergers and are notoriously stupid when it comes to deciphering the obtuse messaging that may seem completely obvious to neurotypicals. I do my best but are often totally baffled why people have to be so convoluted, just straight out say what you think and mean or thickos like me just don't get it.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Kim - Oh - Nooooo!!!!

About 4 weeks ago I got huffed up enough to start writing many pieces about my opinion on whether the use of kimono by non Japanese was a disrespectful cultural appropriation. After a month of picking up the issue, examining the top, bottom, sides and lots of hidden facets I still have the opinion that while it may offend some people, particularly those of Japanese – American heritage, and it may even qualify to a degree as an “appropriation” it just cannot be stopped, legally or morally. 

Essentially kimono has been used in the english language for around 200 years and has gradually segued into a generic descriptor word. Outside of Japan most people regard a kimono as a robe type  garment usually having wide sleeves and banded edges. 

I think the most heartening thing I can say to the Japanese who find it’s hijacking offensive is that the vast majority of people still understand what the traditional Japanese garment is and don’t confuse it with contemporary iterations of the style.

Hitting the headlines in the last few days has been the American celebrity Kim Kardashian doing her own version of cultural appropriation by suggesting she is going to trademark kimono as part of the name for her underwear collection.

Ugh, that really is awful. 

How many of you might agree with my cynical impression that she is welcoming the uproar because it makes so much free advertising for her product worldwide?

Personally I do find her appropriation in this case quite offensive because her undies don't have even the vaguest relationship to a kimono - but there is nothing that can be done to prevent her using kimono to peddle her wares. It is a generic word that can't be protected and you can bet your last buck that Ms Kardashian has access to top level legal advice and would be well aware of that. 

Perhaps she is relishing all the uproar and laughing all the way to the bank....?


During my writings I’ve become aware that examining anything to do with cultural appropriation will inevitably lead to touching on racism. Several of my blog posts did poke the beast and made me feel defensive. In honesty racism isn’t a thing that is much present in my daily life. Though I’ve lived in Australia for 34 years I’ve barely met any indigenous people and never had a friendship with an aboriginal person. 

In the tiny bush town where I’ve lived for 11 years, with a population about 900, I’m told there may be 3-4 people that identify as aboriginal but I don’t know any of them. Over the last decade a lot of Indian families have moved here and now run possibly half the local businesses – the Chemist shop, our only grocery shop (which includes agencies for the Post Office and Bank), 2 petrol stations, 2 motels and our medical doctor and hospital consultant is Pakistani. I welcome them all very much and would be totally comfortable to have more Indian people than white Australians in this town. They run their businesses professionally, have many children in the local primary school and contribute their time and resources to our local community organisations such as meals on wheels and the volunteer Fire Brigade. What more could you want of any citizen in your community?

Without question I acknowledge racism exists and is a hideous institution that needs to be dismantled. Because I’ve been a bit bewildered getting comments pointing out my white privilege lately I knew it was time to have a look into why it stung me. 

Recently I described myself as a good “listener” and a person who is trying to live in a conscious paradigm of integrity. We all think we are “good” people of course, but sometimes you must scratch off the surface to find out if any borer has got into the wood behind….

A week ago I launched a reading project. This is my reading list at the moment. Most are audiobooks so I can work in the studio and listen at the same time. Some weren’t available in that format so I bought them for Kindle.

A Haven Amongst Perdition, by Sidra Owens (this is actually a novel)

Not purchased yet but I intend to get “Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia” an anthology by Anita Heiss  and Stan Grants “Australia Day” because I need to keep in touch with how racism manifests in my own community.

White Fragility was the first book read and I found it shattering. I listened to the whole book over one day and was left feeling gutted. For me this book is one that has reset my world view. There is now a pre White Fragility world and a post White Fragility world.

I had read We Should All be Feminists a few years ago and re-read that.

At present I’m half way through listening to Ileoja Oluo’ So You Want to Talk About Race and this is great too. Its nearly 20 years since I did a year of Sociology at the University of Newcastle when I was doing my Visual Art degree so I’ve had to dust off some of my feminist theory. I’ve re-listened to Oluos chapter about “intersectionality” 3 times. This has intrigued me enough to do some additional research as I don’t feel this fits me well.

If anybody would like to recommend me some more good contemporary writing about racism I welcome your suggestions.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Pants down ladies

Lately I've hardly spent any time in the studio doing hands on making. All the one sided debate I've been carrying on for the last month has stimulated the thinking and theory side of my brain. I've spent most days reading, researching and writing screeds of stuff. Some of it was published here and some was for my personal diary or other bits and pieces were written just for personal enjoyment.

At the beginning of this year I discovered Medium, an online platform for writers and independent publishing. I spend many hours a day reading there along with my usual checking in with the New York Times, Washington Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian and Crikey.

Today I published my second essay on Medium. As ever there was the link to publish on FB and I did so, completely oblivious to the fact that included in the essay was a medical photograph of a female vulva. This had been a copyright free image I'd googled up along with 100s of other similar pictures. It was relevant to my essay so I put it in there.

About a half hour later I got the notification from FB about my content having been censored. I forgot that FB is fine with publishing every horrendous bloodthirsty graphic way of being killed but is childishly coy about seeing the vagina the vast majority of humans are born out if.

If you'd like to see the picture that was originally included in the essay here is the link to hop over to Medium.

I hadn't planned on publishing this to my blog but as it can only be published to FB without the "offensive" image, here it is...

Get a Grip on your Vulva
Young women should be empowered to know the physicality of their bodies and educated how to masturbate. They need to know that self stimulation is a healthy and good thing and not be anxious or fearful that there is something wrong to pleasure yourself.
The first time I ever saw my own genitalia was around age 23 when I got a mirror and examined myself. Nearly 40 years later that does seem weird! At that time I’d already had a baby and was pregnant with my second. So a lot of people — parents, doctors, nurses and boyfriends had already seen what I hadn’t. Yet I felt bizarrely guilty and kind of kinky for wanting to see the only part of my body I’d never seen. There is every possibility that millions of women have lived their entire lives never having seen their own genitalia or that of other womens.
Nowadays I believe its really important for young women know what their own genitals look like. Being familiar with the appearance of their healthy genitals is one of the important ways women can monitor their sexual health. Regular observation means they will be alert to changes, such as unusual discolorations, warts, sores or injuries.
Furthermore I would encourage them to go to medical type websites where they can see the huge range of diversity in genitalia among other women all around the world. Regrettably such searches will inevitably cast up the mountain of pornography created for the sexual stimulation of men where the vulva shown often have little in common with the physical reality of most women. In those places they will see female genitalia with little or no pubic hair and vulva with tiny labia. It is part of the unhealthy pathology of male sexuality that the vulva mostly seen in mainstream pornography more closely resemble that of pre adolescent female children than fully grown and appropriately sexually active adult women.
If this makes you curious about the physical diversity in vulva here is a link to an extraordinary photographic essay by Laura Dodsworth

Why I photogaphed 100 vulvas

I am often irritated to hear so many people refer to female genitalia as the “vagina”. This is technically incorrect. When referring to female genitalia the correct words are the genitals, vulva or pudendum. The vagina is the canal that has an opening at the bottom of the vulva extending internally for approximately 10cm. At the top of the vaginal canal is the cervix which segregates the external from the internal. The vagina has two main functions — it directs the ejaculate of the erect male penis into the cervical opening allowing the sperm to progress to the fallopian tubes where potentially fertilisation may occur. The other important function of the vagina is as an exit for the contents of the uterus. That usually consists of menstrual blood at the end of an unfertilised monthly cycle or occasionally an unviable fetus or a full term baby.
Without doubt there must be whole fields of science explaining the weird evolution of how our genital region developed into a multi functional site. It just seems such an unlikely confluence that in an area of a few square centimetres we have openings for defecation, urination, sexual intercourse, menstrual evacuation and childbirth. Our anus and vagina can simultaneously be regarded as shameful, embarrassing, disgusting, precious, sacred and profane. Acts of childbirth, menstruation, intimacy or violence to the vagina occur within a palm span of where we defecate solid waste from our bodies. Some sexual partners regard the anal opening as just as interchangeable for penetration as the vagina.
However, because the vagina is mostly what men are interested in all our other genital bits are largely ignored. I contend that the vast majority of men will know the correct names of only 2 structures of the vulva — the vagina and the clitoris. More than likely there are also a great many young women out there equally ignorant of the correct names for the distinct structures of their vulva.
We are all entitled to know every bit of the skin we were born in and exist in for all our lives. It is a normal part of self respect to properly care for, nurture and maintain the cleanliness and health of our bodies. Young women and girls need to know the anatomy and correct names for their genitalia— mons pubis, pudenda, labia minora, labia majora, urethral opening, the vaginal opening and the anus and most importantly where their clitoris is! They should be encouraged to learn how to pleasure themselves and have orgasms.
I suspect enormous outrage will be generated from some adults who think there is something sick or illegal to encourage 11–12 year old girls to masturbate. But really - who is being harmed?
I recall discovering my clitoris around 13 years old and learned quickly to masturbate to orgasm. I was probably in my mid 30s before I had enough courage to show my sexual partner how to stimulate me to orgasm. I’m not one of those women who orgasm with penile penetration. I think its pretty sad that I’d never had an orgasm with a sexual partner until then. By 35 I was so over with faking vaginal orgasms. The fakery made the genuine giving and receiving of sexual pleasure between intimate partners a fraught and awful thing for me because I had to lie about my real experience in an effort not to make my partner anxious. In the 1980s most people were still so ignorant about female orgasm it wasn’t common knowledge that women who orgasm with penile penetration were in the minority and that was not the experience of most women.
I am glad to have learned the pleasure of self stimulated orgasm as an adolescent. Knowing that I was capable of orgasm kept me perservering to have this experience with intimate partners. Sharing the experience of having a male partner go through their visceral ejaculation into/onto my body often created a deeper level of communion. Regrettably, for way too long I believed the ignorant and incorrect information that women could and should have orgasms induced by penile penetration. Being unable to do so convinced me that there was something wrong that I needed to hide or change. It is a good thing to live in a world now where this information has been debunked and I go about honestly having intimacy and orgasms with partners.
That our bodies have this amazing facility for pleasure known as the orgasm is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. Masturbation should be taught and encouraged for young people to do in appropriate and safe situations as part of a normal mental and physical health regime.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Knit this

It’s fantastic that the worlds biggest knitting and crotchet online group Ravelry has come out clearly stating they won’t allow political commentary on their website supporting American President Trump. I’ve been an inactive member of the group for many years only going there occasionally to buy knitting patterns. I’d been unaware of the simmering tensions until things went viral a couple of days ago.

The statement of their revised policy and removal of a number of disruptive members who were breaking the policy created a huge surge of feedback in many online forums. The disruption even captured the attention of many mainstream news media, like the Guardian, where it was reported.

The Ravelry discussion unfolded with the usual predictable polarisation between right and left, democrat and liberal, conservatives and progressives. A few hundred years ago the group that felt (or was being) persecuted could get on a sailing ship and head over to the new world, kick the natives out and begin to set up their own version of utopia. But theres no elsewhere on the planet left to go to in the 21stC and now we have to learn to live with each other without starting a revolution and shooting all the people we disagree with. Can we do it?.....uhhh-ohhh…is that the sound of knitting needles and crotchet hooks being ground into sharp pointed spears…?

There is little point in gnashing the teefs, slapping yourself on the head and crying “woe is me, why are you turning my knitting hobby into a political forum?!!” The first political act we all do is to be born. It amuses me how anxious moderators everywhere think they can keep politics out of their friendly little circles. They quake in fear that an outbreak of political discussion will destroy their happy crafting idylls. And it is a well founded fear, many forums have crashed and burned when the flinging of incendiaries got out of hand.

Making the pretence that you or your group is not political and that you are somehow entitled to take the virtuous position of “neutrality” in refusing to state a political position is both arrogant and privileged. If you are genuinely uncertain of what your position is then, listen, learn, educate yourself and work out what you think. No such thing as a little bit pregnant.

People who say that they aren’t political are likely living in the comfortable cocoon of middle class income, white skinned, sexually normative, adequately educated, able bodied world of the Star Bellied Sneetches. They can hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil because in their lives they don’t have to take a step in the shoes of minority groups, BIPOC or the disabled.

It is uncomfortable to take a position and tell people what it is. Especially if you are part of the group that is being criticised and disparaged. I recently had the bizarre experience myself of being dismissed as a troll, a Trump supporter, a racist privileged white woman and white supremacist. For several days I went through the bewildering experience of having people I’ve never met or had only the slightest contact with through the internet make assumptions about who I am and what I stand for because I disagreed with someones assertion that naming a sewing pattern a kimono is an unacceptable cultural appropriation. Not a one those people bothered to read what I wrote and make a comment or make any other reflection on why they thought I was wrong.

These issues – racism, hate speech, denigrating people on the grounds of their sexual identity, et al - have to be bought into the open and discussed. People should be allowed to say what they think and why. Personal abuse should never be tolerated in these debates. That is simply expressing rage and frustration and not furthering understanding. Sometimes people need to have the humility to admit they don’t wholly understand all the issues and that some views they hold need to be more closely examined.

Regrettably the outcome of trying to instigate a public discussion platform almost always means people will be polarised and retreat to groups of same minded people to avoid the unpleasantness of confrontations. I’ve just experienced this myself in the last few weeks when I tried to have an open discussion with people advocating a point of view and had the door firmly slammed in my face….the door slammers still have a conviction that I’m a privileged white supremacist. My view is based on knowing what a credible "cultural appropriation" issue is, nothing to do with racist attitudes towards Japanese. All the many hours I spent researching, educating myself and trying to present a reasoned point of view have been totally ignored and dismissed.

I wish I knew what the solution was to keep the debates open and to keep people discussing with minimal rancour.

I’m not a person who follows institutional religion but remain deeply influenced by the Buddhist philosophy that I was attracted to investigate when I was younger. All my life I’ve read a lot of sociology about art, gender, politics and race and my favourite writer about spirituality is the Korean Buddhist monk Thich Nat Thanh. I spend time every day contemplating and acting to live my life with the smallest environmental footprint I can practically effect and doing the least harm I can to other beings.

I’m no saint! I still drink too much, eat meat at least half the week and have a truly gutter sense of humour that won’t give up on believing that fart jokes are clever and hilarious….At least once a month I get really drunk, stay up to 3am in the morning by myself playing loud rap music on youtube and google all my old boyfriends from forty years ago to cyber stalk them. I am flawed. Just like we all are. 

But what I am proud of, and admire in other people, is caring enough to listen to others and trying not to kid myself too much that everything I believe must be good and right. The one certainty I do have is that whatever activity leads to expansiveness, inclusiveness, diversity, compassion and comes from a place of LOVE is probably a good thing to be propagating.

For those readers who wish I'd just talk about my art and sewing here's some beaded earrings I made a few days ago.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Sencha Kimono is on sale, bom de booom...the Sencha Kimono PDF sewing pattern has just been published!!!

Is this the worlds first political sewing pattern?

The pattern is discounted to $1 for 10 days, until Sunday June 30th 2019, then it will revert to the normal retail price of $14.

It is World Refugee Day today and I will donate every dollar paid for the discounted pattern to a charity I already make a regular monthly donation to...

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Please note the discount for the Sencha Kimono and 10% off all other Boho Banjo PDF patterns is available ONLY in my Shopify internet store.

Boho Banjo Shopify Store

The discount code below needs to be applied at checkout to purchase the Sencha Kimono for $1


For the same period of time I'm also offering 10% off any other PDF sewing pattern in my store, and this is the code below to apply at checkout for that


The discount codes are only valid for one use per customer

The Sencha Kimono is also listed for sale in my Etsy store, but it is at the full price of $14. So if you want to support the starving artist by paying full price, that will be appreciated!

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

more double plus ungood

A fun Instagram hashtag to follow, while they can still get away with it! 

I posted this link a few days ago but if you didn’t read it and are interested in how “cultural appropriation” could be deemed in the naming of a sewing pattern I urge you to read Joanna Blakleys Tedtalk youtube video where she talks about the lack of protections within the fashion industry for designers. 

Her talk more broadly discusses how fashion doesn’t have the same sort of protections that are often given in other fields of the arts, like Visual Art and Music. It is clear with music and representational art that sometimes forms are “appropriated” by individuals or businesses and this is recognised and does bring deserved censure. In recent decades some European countries have been able to protect the use of words like "Champagne" and "Dorset Blue Cheese" for foodstuffs, but these are special niche protections specific to produce of the geographical areas where they were developed.

Regrettably there is often virtually nothing the offended cultures can do to protect words or imagery that they feel is owned by them, as in the case with the embroideries that were used in the clothing collection for Carolina Herrera. Some things can be registered to individuals and businesses for a limited period of time (Ugg Boots!), usually 70-90 years but after that they become public domain. Copyright can only be owned by companies or individuals not cultures.  

Two or three years ago there was a lot of controversy about the fabric designer Tula Pink using American Indian images as prints in her fabric collection. When I looked at what she was making at the time I agreed that the images seemed wrongly appropriated, especially the ones of young females wearing feathered war bonnets. I just searched her fabric range now on the internet to see if I could show an example here, but I can’t find any of the prints that were criticised back then. Perhaps she has removed them? However, during the fierce internet debate that went on over weeks I was amazed that about 80% of the contributors thought it was fine for her to use these images and didn’t seem to understand what constituted the definition of “cultural appropriation”. At some point after the debate started Ms Pink claimed she had native American ancestry which may have given her some entitlement.

Sometimes things like brands, trade names and symbols can get legal protection under copyright law, in the same way as I pointed out with the Ugg Boots situation. However, in the case of non Japanese people using the generic description “kimono” there is no case for legal protection of the word. Even when it gets applied to an item of apparel that Japanese wouldn’t generally regard as a kimono, for example if it is used to describe a jacket length robe rather than a full length coat, this may seem irritating, amusing or even insulting to Japanese but it doesn’t constitute any sort of behaviour that can be corrected.

Above is a picture of a genuine Japanese silk  kimono I own. I bought it about 4 years ago from a lady who imports used kimonos from Japan to resell in Australia. She buys bales of second hand kimonos by weight (not item) to import to Australia. She also gets obi, haori, pieces of boro and all sorts of other traditional garments. Surely this suggests Japanese don't regard their old kimonos as any more precious than the old used clothes westerners donate to charity shops?

It is a misapprehension, a misunderstanding of what appropriation is to say kimono should not be used by non Japanese in the name of a sewing pattern.

In their email to me the CSC said:
We are not trying to police how you, or any other designers, name patterns, but as we're not part of the culture those terms are borrowing from, we happily bow to the expertise of people from those cultures, when they express concern over the use of those terms.

I don't know how I can see it in any other way than I am being policed when the CSC say they won't allow any sewing pattern with the name kimono to be shown or discussed in their groups because it's become a concern to Japanese....?

And the second sentence doesn’t make sense to me either - why are they prepared to accept Ms Itos "expertise" about using the word kimono is representative of what the majority of Japanese people think? She was born in America so is American for a start. If I said it was hurtful to me that someone called a skirt pattern a “kilt” would it be accepted I represented the views of Scots people because I have Scots ancestry? I think it would be quite right if some people suggested I had identity issues if I went around making claims like that!

In Emi Itos PomPom interview she also referred to this powerful statement by Ijeoma Oluo. Ito actually refers to it as a definition but I think that’s too subjective.

“So that brings us to what it is that makes cultural appropriation, appropriation. It really is systems of power. We live in a society where dominant cultures have been able to come and take what they want from oppressed cultures and use it however they want, change it, and then discard the rest, even degrade the rest that they don’t like, that doesn’t suit them in the way that they want to use… And they will take what they want for their own purpose. They will then say, “That’s what this is. It’s what it has always been.” And they will further remove it from the culture that developed it and depends on it. They may even profit off of it while the people who developed this piece of culture themselves are still being degraded and oppressed and sometimes mocked for those very same things.”

I think this statement is too extreme to suggest this is what is really happening to Japanese culture and that stopping non-Japanese from using kimono will somehow prevent the degradation, oppression and mockery of Japan.

I always think of Japanese culture as being incredibly strong and not under any threat at all. I’m trying to understand why Emily Ito would suggest Japan is facing such a dramatic and awful attack from “dominant cultures”. She does strongly identify with the American BIPOC community – Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. It disturbs me that Ms Ito feels so alienated from being an American that she feels her life experience is more on a parallel to those of black and indigenous Americans. 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Newspeak: the new inclusiveness means you're out


The Appendix of 1984 stands as Orwell's explanation of New-speak, the official language of Oceania. ...Newspeak contains no negative terms. For example, the only way to express the meaning of “bad” is through the word “ungood.” Something extremely bad is called “doubleplus ungood.”

I have heard back from the moderators of the Curvy Sewing Collective.

Hi Pearl, 

Once again, I'm sorry for the delay in addressing your email. As you said, we're all quite busy and the CSC remains an entirely volunteer not-for-profit organization. I shared your email with the rest of our editorial team and we've discussed the issue. As of today, we will no longer be accepting "kimono" named patterns for review, inclusion in our round-ups, or in any other formal way on the CSC's main site. We are not trying to police how you, or any other designers, name patterns, but as we're not part of the culture those terms are borrowing from, we happily bow to the expertise of people from those cultures, when they express concern over the use of those terms. This new policy (which includes "kimono," among other words) will also be added to our review guidelines and we will be re-visiting old posts with an addendum about this change. 

We fully believe that people, and therefore organizations, deserve to grow and change how they consider various issues. We therefore reserve the right to correct our own views on cultural appropriation and change the way the CSC deals with such things. Our goal, as always, is inclusion not exclusion. We are a safe virtual place for body positivity, thoughtful discussion, and community building. Any rhetoric that actively hurts people in our community goes against that mission. 

Thank you for understanding our position. 


Mary Danielson-Perry

My response:

Hi Mary, thanks to you and the CSC editors for taking the time to answer my query by outlining your thoughts and position on using the description kimono. When I publish the Sencha Kimono next week I understand that you won’t promote it or the makes of any sewists who make it and send you pictures.
I have no idea if you’ve been aware of my one woman campaign of resistance I’ve been running on my blog for the last 3 weeks where I’ve been arguing against the contention that using kimono in a pattern name is a disrespectful appropriation. In case you didn’t know and to save the many hours it would take to read all I’ve written I’ll sum up the main points here…
1)    The issue has been advocated by essentially one woman of Japanese-American heritage, Emily Ito. In Japan, where I have contacts with expatriots and Japanese textile artists going back decades it has no traction as a serious issue at all. In fact Japanese citizens are completely baffled why Americans would take this point of view. The kimono is not a sacred or special garment, in their culture kimono is an ordinary, everyday word used to describe a coat like garment.
2)    Throughout Japan in their fast fashion outlets coats and robes that have only the slightest resemblance to the traditional style kimono are advertised and sold as “kimonos”. These garments are mass manufactured in Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and other third world countries. Japanese citizens have no concern about this and there is no confusion what is the traditional garment and what is a generic modern robe similar to a kimono.
3)    If you are arguing from the position of “cultural appropriation” then it would be equally relevant to point out the kimono was a style of robe adopted from China by Japan in the 18th C.
4)    My most significant problem with this contention about kimono is that the term “cultural appropriation” has been wrongfully applied in this case. As a 60 year old professional artist I am aware it has been borrowed from the field of Fine Art where this is an issue seriously discussed for at least 4 decades so there is a great body of understanding exactly what it means and where it applies. “Cultural appropriation” is a thing that does happen and should be called out and condemned when it happens. Mostly this applies to the hijacking of imagery and icons from tribal and indigenous groups. It hardly ever applies to the use of a wordespecially when that word has been used internationally for probably 200 years.
I have been troubled that Emily Ito has embarked on this campaign and that a number of small independent designers have been caught up in it and wrongfully criticised. Mrs Itos idea is specious, when she says giving a sewing pattern the name kimono is wrong and hurtful that is her personal opinion describing her emotional response, but simply stating her opinion and feelings does not make it a fact.
I have worked in the areas of fashion, textile art and as a patternmaker since I was trained in 1984. My open admiration and acknowledgement of Japanese design goes right back to the 80s. Today I was teaching a class at a local gallery in sashiko stitching and stenciling, the combination of which is known in the Japanese tradition as Katazome. I know a lot about art, fashion and the sociology of art. I know Emily Ito probably doesn’t or she would never have started this kimono campaign because it simply doesn’t stack up and ultimately her campaign will fail because 90% of the rest of the world will completely ignore her. But my concern is that in the meantime she is causing a great deal of unnecessary angst and strife in the sewist community.
I understand that the CSC moderators would rather stay out of any awkward debates and be friends with everybody and that you will very likely prefer to side with Emily Ito, especially as she is an acknowledged influencer with a big following, rather than my insignificant self who comes from an academic understanding.
Lastly (because I’m a pedantic pain in the arse who just can’t help herself) I want to point out contradictions in the last three sentences of your email to me:
Our goal, as always, is inclusion not exclusion. The CSC is in fact excluding me and the many people who agree with my point of view…so who in fact are you “including”?

We are a safe virtual place for body positivity, thoughtful discussion, and community building. Do you propose having a “thoughtful” discussion on CSC about the use of kimono? My own experience in the last month of trying to have just such a discussion is being deleted and blocked from following Instagram individuals and groups and FB groups. My submissions to blogs discussing this issue don’t get published, the censoring is so ridiculous they publish only comments which are flattering and in agreement. My public calls for the advocates on the kimono issue to discuss with me have been totally ignored. How can the advocates claim they have a good argument for their position when they refuse to discuss publicly, with transparency and actively shut down any of my contributions to supposedly public platforms?  Do you demand I respect the opinions of people who behave in that way?

Any rhetoric that actively hurts people in our community goes against that mission. Implicit in this statement is that calling a sewing pattern a kimono causes “hurt”. Until just a week or 2 ago CSC was apparently oblivious to this. It was only in February this year that one woman said she was hurt. I think if you take the position that you must stop using any word that “hurts” even one person you will soon find yourself severely restricting your vocabulary.

Obviously, I disagree with the position CSC will be taking in regard to using kimono. However, I do respect that that is your prerogative and I’ll continue to enjoy being a part of the CSC community (though I am effectively being condoned and silenced for the principles I’m sticking up for) I want to assure you that I won’t try to instigate any discussion on CSC forums, but if it does arise from other sources I hope I’ll be allowed to contribute.

In August I’ll be publishing another PDF pattern - that won’t be called a kimono! – so I hope you won’t bear me any ill will for my position and will allow the design to be featured in your monthly round-up.

Sincerely and all the best
Pearl Moon

 Be warned - "kimono" has been subtracted from usage by nice caring people...

Friday, 14 June 2019

Ugg, its all so unfair!

Today in the New York Times

Homage or Theft? Carolina Herrera called out by Mexican Minister

Most people are ignorant of how the fashion industry works. There are exceedingly few designs in the industry that qualify for copyright protection. Copyright also has a limited time scale of protection, usually about 70-90 years. Outside of that designs and pictures become public domain. Copyright can only be registered to companies or individuals not cultures. The Mexican embroidery designs referenced by Herrera in her 2020 collection are likely 100s of years old, therefore not creditable to any individual and as such don't qualify for any legal protections. While the Herrera companys collection may have derived from murky ethics it doesn't infringe any legal issues of copyright. 

"Cultural appropriation" has become a buzzword construct for BIPOC communities to express their grievance over feelings of powerlessness.

Heres a great example that happened in Australia a month ago.

Heres a picture of my Ugg boots. That trade name on the back of my boots become illegal about a month ago.

Add caption

That Australian Ugg boot manufacturing company has gone bankrupt and it is out of business even though they’ve been making Ugg boots for 50 years. I clearly remember buying my first pair in 1978 at Greymouth on the South Island of New Zealand.

This is the story of how the entire Australian Ugg boot manufacturing industry has been ruined. 

In the 1970s an Australian man living in the US copyrighted the name and general design features of an Ugg boot. He had a business making and selling them in the USA at the time and the particular footwear was unlike anything there so he wanted to protect himself from being copied. After moving on from that business an American business bought the copyright and manufactured the footwear at scale. They aggressively pursued enforcing the copyright despite the fact this footwear had been made in Australia and New Zealand for long before the US copyright was created. In 2018 they took the Australian manufacturer to court and won the case that their copyright was infringed by the Australian business. 

That company is finished along with every other maker of Ugg boots here.