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Canadian mayor's knitting shows men still dominate debate

Garment shows how often men, women speak

While demonstrations and suffragette memorials may be typical outlets for politicians to rise up against the patriarchy, one Canadian official has taken a decidedly unconventional stand: knitting.

Sue Montgomery, a city councilor and borough mayor in Montreal, has opted to sit back and knit during monthly executive committee meetings.

Concerned about the disparity of female and male voices during the meetings, her latest creation details how often men speak in red and women in green. And the results reveal a worrying finding: that men still dominate public discourse.

Her half-finished shawl revealed large patches of red and only slithers of green, providing a clear visual representation of the disparity still at play.

"I knit in city council because it helps me concentrate," Montgomery wrote on Twitter. "Tonight I decided to knit it red when men spoke; green for women. Day 1 results in. #Reclaimingmytime #women power #listen.

"It's not that we women don't talk, it's that men talk too much and repeat everything several times, thus waste everyone's time," she added. "I feel a knitting revolution coming on."

The stark difference comes despite a near parity of female and male representatives on the council. Montgomery noted that the body is composed of 34 men and 31 women.

Women's rights campaigners have since flooded to social media to praise Montgomery for her peaceful protest.

"This is so powerful as a visual illustration and equally frustrating to see," one individual wrote on Twitter. "It's such an important message that many still don't get. We don't have equality and we need to claim it back."

Another wrote: "This hits three things I love: feminism, knitting and data representation. Absolutely love the work and the exposure of the imbalance. Go, you!"

Montgomery's actions are the latest in growing wave of knitting protests to have gone viral in recent years.

A German woman gained widespread attention in January for her "rail delay scarf," which she knitted after an often-delayed 40-minute commute to work in Munich.

The scarf features a different color for various lengths of delays; dark gray for up to five minutes late, light pink for five to 30 minutes and bright red for more than 30 minutes late one-way. Each row corresponds to one commute, with two rows being one day.

"The situation is as bad as it is everywhere for commuters," the woman's daughter, Sara Weber, told CNN. "She has commuted for years so at some point, it is just a lot to handle."

Women's rights activists also donned pink, knitted hats, dubbed "pussyhats," at the Women's March protests across the US in 2017. They were worn in protest against the election of President Donald Trump and his treatment of women.

Jayna Zweiman, one of the women behind the Pussyhat Project, said that the idea behind the movement was to reappropriate the "word 'pussy' in a positive way."

"It's a pussyhat -- one word. This is a project about women supporting women," she said.


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