ALL DOLLED UP AND READY TO PROTEST
 
Joyce Stalker
Hamilton, New Zealand/Aotearoa

Fabric dolls would seem to be among the most innocuous of fabric crafts. Yet this small display demonstrates that even usually benign fabric crafts can be political both in their processes and product. The process of creating these dolls can be politicising for women.

I created Ginger, who carries protest signs in support of pay equity, in an all-woman’s workshop in which individuals’ skills, experimentation, creativity and imagination were mutually encouraged, respected and celebrated. This was in strong contrast to the competitive and male-dominated discourses outside that classroom. In everyone’s doll, humour was a key element and seemed to be a coded ‘naughty’ reaction to some un-stated restrictions. Ginger was greeted with surprise, for she broke the ‘rules’ of doll making. None-the less, she was greeted with approval, laughter and endorsement. All my ‘dolls’ have elicited mixed reactions outside the workshop-from confusion at my involvement as a feminist in the activity, to admiration of the skills as understood by women who sew, or wish they could, to bewilderment by men who can’t crack the coded woman-to-woman messages in the dolls.