The Pussyhat project is a social movement focused on raising awareness about women’s issues and advancing human rights. Propelled by social media – a revolution in communications – the pussyhat has rapidly become an international symbol for women’s rights, political resistance and collective action.

The Pussyhat was conceived in Los Angeles in the USA, in 2016, by design architect Jayna Zweiman and screenwriter Krista Suh, in the run-up to the Women’s March in Washington DC in January 2017. The idea was to create a ‘sea of pink hats’ at women’s marches everywhere, making a bold and powerful visual statement, while also ensuring people unable to participate could visibly demonstrate their support for women’s rights. A simple pattern was designed by Kat Coyle which could be followed by novice and expert knitters alike. The name ‘Pussyhat’ was chosen, in part, as a protest against comments made by Donald Trump about the freedom he felt to grope women without their consent and (in his words) “grab ‘em by the pussy”.

Just as campaigners in the Age of Revolution took full advantage of the printing revolution to communicate their ideas and garner support, the pussyhat project harnessed the power of social media to spread the word – and the knitting pattern. It spread like wildfire, with the pink pussyhat becoming an iconic, international symbol for women’s rights almost overnight. The speed at which the pussyhat has been adopted and its global reach is, in itself, testament to today’s revolutionary design and digital culture, epitomising the modern-day maker movement (a movement combining new tools and technology with traditional making in the physical world to solve problems and bring new ideas to life, quickly and cheaply) while reflecting the continuing changes in the social and political landscape.

Did you know..?

During the French Revolution, market women, who had led their own successful protest against the establishment in 1789, famously sat by the guillotine and knitted red ‘liberty caps’ worn by revolutionaries.

Pussyhat project

Pussyhat pattern

Sources & acknowledgements

This object description and its related educational resources were researched and written by our team of historians and education specialists. For further information see the item’s home museum, gallery or archive, listed above.