Monday, December 20, 2010

Hobbies vs. Skills- A Pet Peeve of Mine

  Sometimes it really burns me when filling out questionnaires, and getting-to-know-you type forms when I get to the "hobbies and interests" blank.
  Why you ask? Being the 'old soul' that I am I find it ludicrous and demeaning to the women who learned the arts and skills they used to keep their families fed, clothed, warmed, and cared for reduced to "hobbies" and "handy-crafts"- (pardon me while I gag on that word).
 I think a few definitions are in order:
  • 2 craft: to make by or as if by hand
  • 1 crafty: skillful, clever
  • 2 skilled: having acquired master of or skill in something
  • 2 hobby: a pursuit outside ones regular occupation engaged in esp. for relaxation.
  So first of all, I doubt the old frontier women had time to go "outside their regular occupation" for much of anything. These women were busy propping up a budding nation. Hobbies in those days were for those rich enough to afford servants and had time to play lawn games, and pursue painting.
  Even though craft and crafty related to skill when this word originated (1816) in our modern times it has taken on a more...ornamental and trivial connotation.
  Like anything that requires skill, these crafts are usually embellished during their development furthering the artistic ability and product of the crafter thus pushing them into the realm of "artisan". This aura of ability furthers competition among the "artisans" and the ornamental product becomes less and less practical and function-able.
  After industrialization made materials easier to come by, the finished products weren't far behind. Mass production and availability reduced the need of these once strictly hand made items. 
  Knowledge of these skills began to fade away until the artisan realm, and celebrity stardom made them fashionable and "chick" to do in the spare time, seeing that it no longer held the position as a necessity, since cheaper and more ornate products were widely available.
  Even with the revival of these hobby/crafts (to which they were demoted), over availability has permanently and ever after cast  a shadow on these valuable skills.
  Countless are the times that I've felt guilt and heard "confessions" of guilt laced projects from  a busy mother and homemaker who actually stole time away from her more important and pressing duties to work on.
  Wherein lies the guilt? In the cultural projection and mentality of materialism and greed that pushes manufacturers to make an " easy buck", flooding markets and minds with the in-necessity of practicing these once important and necessary skills ourselves.
  Will these skills ever be treated as such and given their value and rightful place again? My bet is that until manufacturing, importation and mass marketing ceases or is significantly crippled will we ever see the restoration of and abolition of guilt associated with producing the necessary items once again to feed, clothe warm and care for our loved ones. 
  Until then please pardon the chip on my shoulder when I hear someone refer to my skills as mere hobbies or handy-crafts. I'll do my best not to discredit your activities and interests as shallow busy work with no real value and necessity as well. Pardon me, do you have a tissue, my sarcasm is running.


  1. LOL I think this is well written. Not only is your sarcasm running, but this article is also dripping with pregnant hormones. Tee hee, I say it with the utmost adoration and love for you sweety. I personally think your skills are mastered and do well to bless your family.

  2. I agree with you completely. When I refer to my activities - gardening, housework, knitting, etc - I use words such as 'job' and 'skills'. I myself truly despise the phrase 'hobby farming'. I also find it sad that most people I know who are into 'crafts' simply buy things and glue them together. Considering the state of our society these days our country may as well have been founded upon a Declaration of Dependence. I feel no guilt whatsoever over 'dabbling' in my 'hobbies'; it puts food on the table and clothes on our bodies. I only wish I could do more...but I'm working on it!

  3. Glad to know there are others out there with the same views. Some times I feel surrounded by those that are so "socially aware" of trends and such that it makes me feel a bit lonely and sad. It makes me ponder when and how being trendy trumped family and values as a culture.

  4. I appreciated this so much. I am a quilter...not so I can win a blue ribbon, though! I make quilts to keep our family warm in the winter, whether it be sitting in a chair reading or curled up in bed. Occasionally, I have made a quilt to hang on a wall, but it's to help insulate the room better or to be pulled 'closed' over a door that seems to leak cold air all summer! I'm almost insulted when people refer to it as 'my little hobby'!