I have recently bought some tote bags from a community that I have grown increasingly curious about day after day. So let’s get down to it.
Needle N’ Bitch is a safe space for every one of all gender, no matter what your sexual orientation is.
A place where people could express themselves freely without judgement from any narrow thoughts people may have in society. May it be for women’s empowerment, sexuality issues, speaking out for the oppressed, the discriminated, speaking out against the order, whatever it may be.
They also create handmade products as a physical embodiment of their values. They are tote bags, pouches, journals, aprons and tees with most importantly, used fabrics and other materials.
Why “bitch”? From what I know that free-spirited women make up the community. The term “bitch” may induce negative connotations but I salute these women for encouraging the deconstruction of what a woman is supposed to be as “second sex”, so to speak.
However, it is not only a space for women. As mentioned before, it is a sanctuary for everyone, including men to come for a visit, express their thoughts, opinions if everywhere else has deemed them immoral, abnormal or even sinners. For me, that is an excellent vision because gender issues or gender equality affects the men too. If we want our girls to flourish, we must also teach the men to respect the women, that it’s okay for them to cry or wanting to be a pastry chef someday. Because when boys are taught to be “tough” or “macho”, how will they grow up and love the women?
From what I gathered, they also hold workshops, discussions, produce Zines such as the “Sister Be Strong” where various women speak out about sexual abuse and other repressive experiences, struggles to defend their reproductive rights, rights to their bodies and many many more.
I have always thought that individuality and free-expression must be encouraged in many forms, including gender equality. Now being in Indonesia, it may be difficult to see any problems with gender because now women do have strong positions in the workforce, and in the government.
However, as an archipelago, there are still very strong restraints due to the dynamics of tradition, culture and even religion that will let, for example, young girls to marry before they are 16 years old. Also, there are still cases of violence against women. What’s worse is that they have no voice because they have always been imposed by the society around them that their bodies are reasons men get both aroused and angry. That, to me makes absolutely no sense.
Therefore I do hope that communities like Needle ’n Bitch prosper and continue to voice out the sheer strength of individuals and the right to make life choices that better the individual. Since they are also not funded by other parties, they really do embody the sense of sisterhood, brotherhood and community that is there to help each other out.
Needle N’ Bitch