When I was eighteen I learned how to sew, and quickly became passionate about making historical clothing. I started a blog to record my sewing adventures, and called it "Hester's Needle", after Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter. Perhaps the choice of this name foretold that I too would be cast out of a community in the future.
During my late teens and early twenties I used to attend a Civil War Ball every summer in an old historic town in Montana. People from all over would come together, do a little parade around the old town, and then dance the night away to a live band. It was the highlight of our year and my friend and I would spend all winter making our dresses. I have lots of pictures of us at various dances still up on the blog.
Almost ten years later I hear rumors that I am being accused of being a Confederate sympathizer. I see a couple Instagram posts and dig in and find some comments on a Reddit thread regarding this issue. A user called "elocut" says the only proof she can find is "...a photo of Maria at a Civil War era ball With a confederate flag in the background". She goes on to say that she thinks this is "distasteful' and "bad judgement" on my part and that if she were an employer looking to hire me she probably wouldn't "...especially if I thought there was any chance she would be interacting with people of color. She obviously has no training in diversity, and made some very poor choices in speaking out in that video, and not taking it down when other people commented". Entire Reddit Thread Here.
When I first saw this Reddit thread back in February this person had also included a link to my blog for people to follow and see for themselves how terrible of a person I was in my youth. I see now that there are deleted posts, one of which must've been the one containing this link. For, she probably realized that if people followed the link they would see my nerdy blog with all my historical sewing, and probably realize that there wasn't much there at all to condemn me. In fact, it could inspire people to sew and get into historical costuming themselves!
As you can see in the picture at the top, dated September 3, 2009 (I was twenty), there is indeed a Confederate flag along with American flags (I'm in the red dress on the left). By the way some people were talking online it was as if I had spent my youth marching around waving a Confederate flag at Civil War events. One person on IG said "It doesn't surprise me". Another said "wow, Civil War Ball? Ugh Where did you find that? So awful. I hope people figure out who she really is and she has consequences".
I don't know the entire history of Virginia City, but even though Montana territory supported the North, Virginia City did send money to the South. So, there were most likely people from both sides residing in the city during the Civil War. At the ball I attended some men would even come dressed in uniforms from opposing sides. I guess it was a Civil War after all. Friend against friend. Neighbor against neighbor.
Also, if you really want get into the minute details, I'm standing on the other side in this picture, closer to an American flag...and next to a person of color (and without any diversity training...how did I manage it?).
Of course I'm glad the North won. As were my ancestors who lived during this time.
I am so thankful for everyone involved in putting on The Grand Ball For Peace each year. I hope I can attend again in the future.
Just to say I’ve followed your story from when you were first attacked by SJW, a term I wasn’t familiar with at the time. What I did understand was, especially after listening to the video you recommended at that time, that there was something entirely wrong about how you were being platformed as being guilty of racism and the steps that were then being taken by SJW and various well-known members of the knitting community. At the tme I was a Patreon of a podcaster who made a very ugly statement in her Insta stories concerning you, afterwhich I confronted her and withdrew as one of her Patreons. It’s hard to know sometimes, as someone who has absolutely no prominence in the knitting community, how to support you and others who have been targeted so unfairly. However please know that I applaud your efforts to be transparent and outspoken through this experience.
October 04, 2019
As a mom who homeschooled all five of her kids, we enjoyed history more than any subject. My youngest two, in particular, enjoyed studying the Civil War, and (horror of horrors) they dressed in southern attire for a history timeline dance our co-op hosted. I sewed their costumes! Of course they were young elementary school children at the time and were adorable. Another year they dressed as northerners in honor of my family’s home state of Pennsylvania (although none of my family was in the US until the early 1900s). All of that aside, it is absurd to suggest one is racist for reinacting history or dressing for a ball. More absurd still is the time spent by the sjw’s and their ilk trying to bring people down by digging into their pasts. I think my favorite moment of yours was when you sipped a Heineken. mwahahaha!
I hope you get to attend that Montana ball next time it’s held, and that you sew a beautiful dress to attend in!
September 30, 2019
I can not believe how bizarre all of this SJW behaviour actually is – people are imploding under the weight of their own righteousness.
A certain UK designer and her wife are falling all over themselves to apologize for “causing harm” (in various ways) and their apologies are being scrutinized and found not only inadequate but harmful as well. Anti-racism specialists have been brought in. Apparently, an apology just attracts more attention to yourself!!! None of the people who have expressed this opinion have offered their version of what a proper apology should look like.
Racism is a serious and sometimes subtle problem, but this? This is ridiculous. Irrational even. Thank goodness for what I hope is a majority (mostly silent?) of rational thought. Thank you again Maria for speaking out.
September 28, 2019
I’m enjoying reading your story. It really illustrates how problematic the behavior by the people who came against you is and the very real human effect that inappropriate behavior is.
September 27, 2019
Yet another reason why I like you. I am a student of history, with special interest in the Civil War (my great great grandfather was a Union soldier). I used to photograph reenactments with regularity, with time periods ranging from the American Revolution to WW2. That means I photographed…gasp!…German soldiers! I made friends within that community, including those who portray Confederate soldiers and Nazi officers. They all do it for the love of history, and they love sharing what they know with people. They are all kind hearted and welcoming. In fact, they are forever trying to get new members to join. One’s race doesn’t matter to them.
The idea that having anything to do with living history then cements one as a Confederate sympathizer is hilariously stupid. I would first love to challenge those who say such things on their own knowledge of that particular war, and then their knowledge of the reenactment community. If you’re a Rebel sympathizer, Maria, then I must be worse…because I am friends with Rebs AND German officers from WW1 and WW2. clutches pearls My father, who is a WW2 veteran, sees nothing wrong with living history, reenactments, or the people within those communities. If anything, he is thrilled someone is still interested in learning, as he has met many younger people who are terribly uneducated about our history.
I’ll have to inform him that he should be offended instead, as clearly these 20 and 30 something SJWs, whose only knowledge of “battle” and “violence” consists of typing furiously on a keyboard, know better than he does.
September 26, 2019