Societal "norms" is downright UNFAIR! Based on society's view of what normal is and the behaviors that must encompass males and females, we have destroyed individual creativity. I have to extend an apology to male knitters because they have been the butt of constant jokes about their sexual orientation for their interest in knitting. I thought I should raise this issue because I have yet to see a male knitter in person and before I began knitting, I never thought men knit; it's a female thing. Little did I know my perception of knitting and who should knit were based on contemporary society's normalities.
Historically speaking, knitting was actually popular in Europe as a guild that was dominated by men. According to Knit Be Nimble the guild ended, unfortunately, with the invention of machinery and men moving over to the sector of industry. In America, however, knitting has always been a woman's craft. I recently read Anne L. Macdonald's No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, which enlightened me on how knitting became so important in American history but also outlined why women took over the craft. To briefly summarize, the mood of knitting being associated mainly with women in America stemmed from the European settlers and the roles they had established for men and women. Women were the housewives that cared for her family and the upkeep of the house while men were the breadwinners. Schooling became separated into the boys engaging in academics and the girls learning the crafts. Knitting gradually became a woman's pastime.
From this history, I believe lies the problem of gender specificity in the knitting world. However, I do not feel it has to continue to be this way. Men should be able to enjoy the soothing powers of knitting without society's boundaries of activities that are considered manly or wimpy. The men who are knitters and open about their love for knitting, hats off to you because you're expressing yourselves despite the labels society has put on you. Again, I apologize for society's close-mindedness. I encourage more male knitters to not be afraid to knit your WIPs in public; it is not something you should be ashamed of!
[To my knitting men: Knit to your heart's content]