It all started with a Woman’s March sign. Shannon Downey, pissed as hell by the new President, made a cross-stitch that read: “I’m so angry I stitched this just so I could stab something 3,000 times.” Amen, sister. And from there, her political cross-stitching took the internet by storm.
Despite doing some cross-stitching in fifth grade, she only started it up again a few years ago— mostly as an anecdote to sitting at a computer all the time. Soon, though, it grew into something more. “I use stitching to process, and there is so much to process [in politics],” she told Bustle. She started her site and an Instagram account with a variety of stitching themes, but then it “took a political turn and now it’s sort of exclusively politics, feminism, and social justice because that’s really all that’s on my mind.” In addition to cross-stitching like a badass, she teaches at DePaul and Columbia and works for the Chicago chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice— which is one hell of a CV.
When “ally’s” try to erase you as they prop up their allyship – it’s time to get loud. THAT IS MY ART. pic.twitter.com/KQ6jRlBbFm
— Shannon Downey (@ShannonDowney) October 11, 2017
And her work speaks for itself— literally. A personal favorite of mine is the “Boys will be held accountable for the fucking actions”, but there are so many to choose from. Others greats include “No human being is illegal”, “Fuck Hobby Lobby”, and, of course, “man tears”. She took a traditionally feminine activity— one that is associated with women sitting on the sidelines— and has completely turned it on its head. Instead of a quiet hobby, she uses it as a way to confront, to engage, and to resist.
Her site explains:
“Together, we will create a community of people who realize and value the importance of using our hands and creativity to enhance our own quality of life and thereby enhance the quality of life of others… All the time, with everything I’m doing and everyone I interact with. No phoning it in. Ever.”
— Shannon Downey (@ShannonDowney) September 7, 2017
There’s something poetic about reclaiming this hobby and putting it to good use. And the best part? Anybody can do it. Downey is inspiring people to show how much of an eff they give, to launch into protest with little more than a needle and thread. It’s something that we can all get behind. If you’re interested in learning more, her Instagram page is chock-full of inspiration. There’s no wrong way to show that you give a damn. There’s no wrong way to spread the word and channel your rage. And if you’re looking for a way to do it, cross-stitch is waiting.