Sunday 4 December 2022


I just made another Woke Victim

Years ago, specifically on May 23, 2019, I responded to an item that was going around the internet sewist world about cultural appropriation. I wrote many blog posts reacting to it throughout 2019-20 and all the posts are still here on my blog. The writer I reacted to was Emily Ito, an American woman who lives in San Francisco whose mother is Japanese. Emilys mother married an American man and emigrated to live in the United States with her husband in the mid 60s, where Emily was born.

My first blog post in response was May 23, then they go on for months after that. I spent hours and days researching and carefully laying out my argument why I disagreed with Itos proposition that a white person describing a garment they had made as a "kimono" was not an example of cultural appropriation.

My opinions outraged many people who didn't agree with my view that calling a garment made by a non Japanese person a kimono was not cultural appropriation. Many readers responded that that was an opinion that could only be held by a white person who was a racist.

I hoped that I could get a response and have a discussion from any one of the 3 anti-racist activists I quoted numerous times in the series of blogs I wrote, the people being Emily Ito, Aja Barber and Makiko Hastings. I was na├»ve enough at that time to believe that at least one of them would inevitably enter into a discussion….However, as at 3/12/2022 the only response I’ve ever had is to be blocked from all their social media.

I tried several times to get some engagement by seeking out the social media platforms where the 3 women published because I’ve been a textile artist for many decades and as a person in that community who is directly affected by arguments about culture and appropriation it was important to me to know the prevailing zeitgeist.

I became so frustrated by the wall of silence over the next few months that eventually I intentionally named one of my PDF sewing patterns the “Sencha Kimono”, hoping that would get some interaction going. (Sencha being the Japanese word for a tea ceremony and a play on the English word “Censor”). Meantime around 5 or 6 other independent pattern publishers on the internet were publicly shamed into removing the descriptor “kimono” from patterns they had published prior to Itos polemic.

My name and base reputation as a vile and racist whitey must have been passed around the internet sewing world because I was subsequently blocked from more than 40 Instagram groups I’d belonged to and had the curious experience of sometimes trying to find an IG page through a link, and finding I was blocked in advance. My micro Etsy enterprise where I sell my sewing patterns was affected, sales dropping about 30% over a year and one woman asked for a refund when she realized she had given her $18 to a racist monster. 

My Etsy Shop

In 2021 I was also blocked from Atsushi Futatsuyas IG, “Sashiko Stories” for objecting to being told I was privileged because I’m a white woman. Atsushi is a good friend of Ito and it was apparent from the stuff he was writing about cultural appropriation and theories of white supremacy that Ito had a strong influence on his world view. Atsushi has also muted my comments from being seen on his YouTube channel. He hosts a weekly chat while stitching on YT that I regularly join but the other women who follow it every week are unaware of my presence as my comments are invisible on the livechat. Six months ago I asked Atsushi to unmute me but he refused to do so.

I was only ever briefly on Itos IG – Little_Kotos_Words, in 2019, literally for one minute and one message before she blocked me (cannot provide a link obviously). I was blocked from Aja Barbers IG and in 2020 she even demanded I leave her Patreon following, despite being a paying subscriber and only ever having made one public post there (entirely milquetoast and nothing in the least bit offensive), in which she recognized my name.

Ito and Barber describe themselves as Critical Social Justice activists. Barber published a book about the wastefulness of the fashion industry in 2021 that I read and liked very much. Both are regularly featured in podcasts and publications. In 2019 I discovered Barber on Twitter and wrote her a half joking message about getting into her echo chamber and she not only immediately blocked me but wrote a defamatory and inflammatory response to her followers (250,000) that I was stalking her, threatening her safety and that she was terrified (incidentally she was well aware I live in Australia and she lives in the UK). This bought a rather ugly pile-on to my IG page (550 followers) to such a distressing degree that I closed my account and stayed off Instagram for a month. In 2020 Barber also published a half hour video on her IG, never mentioning my name, but referring to a racist woman who was stalking and bullying her and making numerous sneering and disparaging comments about the hateful personality of the person. It disappeared a few months later.

So that is a bit of history about my interactions with Ito and Barber. 

I have no interest in them as individuals. They appeared in my international sewist community about 4 years ago talking political theories about race, appropriation and oppression, and lots of other ideas straight out of Critical Social Justice Theory. I just want to engage with their influential political ideas on a public platform to discuss and interact. However both seem to act as if I am personally attacking them and neither are reluctant to imply that in public.

How I made Ito look like a victim today and how the Woke will play along.

There is a textile art organization based in the USA called the Surface Design Association I haven’t been following their IG but until about 6 years ago I did subscribe to their magazine. Their IG has 20,600 followers on social media  and I noticed that more than 70 of the people who follow me also sub to the SDA.

About 5 days ago I saw promoted on my IG feed that the SDA were having an open Zoom seminar called Holding Space: Unraveling Appropriation in Fiber Art and that there were 3 contributing people on the panel and that one of them was Emily Ito. I’m always curious what she has to say about textile art and appropriation so I joined up. 

The meeting was scheduled to launch at 11am on 3/12/2022 and I duly signed in. The moderator was waiting for all the attendees to log in when I dropped out. A message came up that I had been removed. At first this seemed perplexing and I thought some sort of tech glitch might have occurred so I tried to log back in a couple of times to no avail. Then it occurred to me it may have been intentional so I switched email addresses and logged back in with success, much to my amazement. However that only lasted a minute before I got ousted again.

It was apparent I had been ejected from the Zoom conference without explanation. The Zoom notification message that I had been "removed" was correct.

I find this really remarkable. I have an opinion, a point of view that I feel I’m entitled to express within an international craft community I’ve been a part of for decades. 

Ito isn’t a textile artist, she talks about learning to sew her own clothes beginning perhaps 2 years ago. She is an activist, a person who puts her politics out into the world and tries to influence people. But she won’t debate, she won’t discuss and she doesn’t interact. 

I’m not sure why SDA kicked me out, whether it was at her behest, or perhaps the horribleness of a point of view I have has even seeped into their ears. But it seems crazy to me. I joined the conference out of good faith curiosity to hear what activists and other artists are saying about cultural appropriation in textile art. Dog knows, I've heard it often enough that I need to “educate” myself. The Woke have often commented they resent doing my emotional labour for me so I was expending my own time to find out what they feel I don’t understand. How bizarre that they don’t want to let me hear what I should know. In truth, I didn’t intend to ask anything or make any comment at all, I was there to listen to what their current views and claims are. 

The upshot is it will all have to remain a mystery so I’ll just go on believing what I already believe until I hear a more convincing case argued.

Ito, I presume will be “terrified” in a similar manner to what Barber claimed and perhaps feeling she has been stalked and harmed. 

I just stay cancelled along with having another crime to add to my pantheon.

Postscript: If anybody attended the SDA conference and a transcript or video recording is available I'd be glad to find out what was discussed.

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