Men Who Knit: A Social Media Critical Discourse Study (SM-CDS) on the Legitimisation of Men Within Reddit’s r/knitting Community
While knitting is commonly seen as a feminine craft, a great number of men also participate in this practice despite its association with women. These men who knit integrate their identity as knitters with that of being men, resulting in alternative masculinities that often fall back on features of hegemonic masculinity (Kelly, 2014). This study examines online discourses surrounding men who knit through the analysis of twelve threads from Reddit’s r/knitting community in order to identify the ways in which knitters perform their identities and genders online. Social Media Critical Discourse Studies (SM-CDS) is applied as the approach to this study that analyses this data and examines the discursive strategies that knitters use to either resist or reinforce gender stereotypes. In addition to this, I look at the ways in which men who knit construct their identities within these discussion threads.
The main findings were that a dominant discourse of legitimisation existed to justify that knitting was an acceptable practice for men. Additional discourses that supported this related to identity, belonging, and empowerment, and were used by members of the r/knitting community to resist stereotypes around knitting as a purely feminine pursuit. Male commenters were found to label themselves and other knitters by emphasising their gender and sexuality in terms that were overlexicalised, suggesting that men who knit were reinforcing the gendered nature of knitting, while others sought to impress the idea that a person’s gender had nothing to do with the practice. These opposing positions of both resisting and reinforcing gender stereotypes were found to have the same objective of seeking to legitimise men who knit.