Yes, I will admit, even though I truly know better, that when I am writing this blog, my writing tends to be sexist. I thank a dear kind reader for so kindly pointing out my “fault”, and I thank HIM for giving me another topic to write about (I am beginning to worry that I might run out of my shit-fueled momentum before too long).
Name your craft, be it knitting, embroidery, sewing, scrap booking washing diapers, and even beading, women do predominate the field. Yes, even most cooks are women, if you take into consideration who does most of the cooking on a worldwide survey. I dare say, we women even think that crafts (other than ship building, hunting and tanning hides) are our territory, and woe to the man who tries to enter it!!
Yet, if the tables were turned and women were to be denied participation of a “manly” craft such has building train models, or making furniture, we would have a hissy fit, wouldn’t we? We would stomp our feet in a 2 year old’s rage, with fists clenched and for added effect, cry big tears.
A man in a mostly female dominated field, he would hardly take note. A man would continue on and ignore the bewildered female who cannot understand why a man would want to take part in “her” craft. He enjoys the craft for its own sake, and he might even enjoy the fact that he is in the minority, rather than protest the inequality of male membership in the local beading club.
There are some fantastic beaders who are men. If you have been beading for long enough, you might have heard of Don Pierce, David Chatt, and Marcus Amerman. They are not only phenomenal beaders, but they have done a lot to elevate the craft of beadwork to an art. These 3 men are not the only men who bead. There are many others. In some Native American societies, it is the men who do the beading, especially of ceremonial items. I have several customers who are male beaders who just delight me to no end. I also receive a fair amount of mail from males who are incarcerated who like nothing better to do with their time than bead.
To me, there is something very endearing about a male who enjoys beading. I don’t know what it is exactly, but maybe in my sexist mind, he has crossed over to my side of the world and understands something that is a predominately female form of art. Perhaps by joining me, he understands my female brain.
But really, that’s bullshit. He is simply a male who likes to bead. Nothing more, nothing less.
In my very early days as a designer, I once admired another designer from a distance. This designer’s name was Mark, I never did learn the last name. I saw design after design from this person. “Oh, I thought!! I would love to meet this guy. The designs he creates are so wonderful, he is so talented, he must have the soul of an angel!” Then I discovered that “Mark” was not a male but a female. (Yes that was her name…in a somewhat cruel set of circumstances, her parents wanted her to be a boy. When Mark was born, her parents were disappointed that she was a girl and decided to keep the male name they chose for the boy they longed for). Once I found out that Mark was female, I was disappointed. Don’t ask me why. Yes, I was unattached at the time…but really, I did not entertain the idea of dating “him”. I know…too much information…but as a result of this discovery, I really began questioning what stereotypes I might be harboring and how the male/female associations might color what I feel about beadwork.
I know that I was totally enthralled by the fact of a man creating such wonderful designs. Once I learned a female created them, I still greatly admired them, but I was not so captivated. Why was that? Did I really think that men could not design such beautiful work? Did I really think that the graceful lines of the designs were more special if a male created them?
Another example of sexism in beading took place when I took a 3-day workshop in beading given by a male. He is an excellent beader, very innovative, and has talent beyond most beaders I know. There were 20 of us in the class. Women were swooning over the guy, bringing offerings of cookies, coffee, and other mementos. They were clamoring to help him in any way possible. I kept thinking one of them would offer to polish his shoes! After class, most of us followed him as if he were the Pied Piper to dinner. He laughed, and exclaimed “ What a shame that I have so many wonderful women flocking after me, and I am gay!” We all laughed, but still the women thought that as a beader he was the cat’s meow. I doubt a woman would have been treated with such admiration by other women.
We all have our cultural biases when it comes to activities that men and women take part in. This is taught to us either directly, or by implication and example when we are youngsters. Most of us will agree, that we all can enjoy our hobbies, no matter what our sex is. All it takes is interest, not what kind of chromosomes we have.
To all of my male readers, you have my apologies for not openly acknowledging that you are part of my audience. I DO fully acknowledge and love that men as well as women love beading. Please understand that it becomes a tad cumbersome to write the he/she designation in my writing. When I write she, just kick the “S” out of that pronoun, and know that I include you in my non-sexist beading world. And I will try to openly include all the wonderful guys who bead along with us gals!
Big Full On Hugs to all you GUYS out there (and especially for Brian)!!