The Pussyhat is a Genius Piece of Political Merchandise

The Pussyhat is a Genius Piece of Political Merchandise

If you were attending a Women’s March or watched it on TV there was one thing you couldn’t miss – the PUSSYHAT! Prior to march day, the Pussyhat Project made free knitting instructions for the hats available on their website, and encouraged women to wear the hats on January 21. The project was started by two friends who wanted a way to create a striking visual statement at the march on the National Mall, and to provide solidarity with women who were unable to make it to Washington.

With the help of traditional and social media, the Project’s message went viral. And as evident by the sea of pink at marches around the world, the Pussycat Project was successful in meeting is objectives. So as we digest the success of the Women’s March, let’s not overlook the symbolism of the pussyhat and the value it brings to the Women’s movement.

Pussyhat Project founders Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh

We talk a lot about “buy in” with merchandise – the phenomena of someone willing make a financial investment in order to display their support. With the pussyhat the financial investment is replaced with a woman’s own labor. This creates a strong emotional connection to the hat, and makes the expression of wearing it much more powerful. Every hat has genuine sentimental value to its owner, meaning they will be retained and displayed long after the Women’s March.

The home-made aspect of the hats in itself is deeply symbolic. Making the hats “DIY” simultaneous demonstrated women’s independence and resourcefulness.  Another benefit to avoiding mass production – each hat was unique and customizable.

Any grassroots organizer should be impressed by the model and outcome of the Pussyhat Project. Basically a few women shared their good idea and sprung a massive organic movement within a movement.  The fact that so many women participated in knitting Pussyhats demonstrates their personally comittment to their movement and the vitality of it.
The Pussyhat really is a fantastic, if somewhat atypical, piece of political merchandise. And we will certainly see other clever merchandise spawned by the progressive movement.  But we suspect that the Pussyhat – like the peace sign or suffragette sash –  is here to stay as an icon of the contemporary political movement.