Men and Quilting: Follow Up

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Wow! I didn’t know my previous post would take off quite like it did! I wanted to do a follow up sooner, but I decided I needed time to process all the comments and posts from other blogs first. Most of you put forth passionate comments (actually, on the blog here itself, there was only one person whose comments I almost did not approve. I won’t dignify those comments with responses, however.) So the first thing I want to say is THANK YOU for conversing!

I am the sole writer for IndieQuilter, and as such I am lacking an editor. I regretted that immensely after this post, as many things I said were taken differently than I had intended. The biggest issue seemed to stem from the fact that so many of you read my words as being absolutes (i.e. All men, always, never, etc.) When in fact I at heart, meant some, many, sometimes, etc. These were unintentional omissions.  I don’t usually THINK in absolutes (or at least I really try not to), so it honestly didn’t occur to me that it would be read as such. (Hindsight is 20/20.)

I apologize that my omissions gave the impression that I mean ALL men do this, that or the other. I regret that it resulted in many becoming angry and therefore shutting down the conversation before it began! My intent was, to open a dialogue about an issue I care and feel deeply about; and I fear I may have lost the opportunity for some really great allies!

My other biggest regret was referring to Irene Berry as “honey”. I shouldn’t have used a word that I don’t like to be called. My apologies to her on this!

Despite the bits I regret, I do not regret the post as a whole. It has opened conversations with MANY of you, male and female for which I am grateful! There clearly is a lot of work and effort to be made in this gender equality issue.

There are two things that makes me very sad, that I want to share with you. I received numerous private emails and messages from women about this post. ALL (I am intentionally using an absolute here, because it was unanimous) of the private messages I received from them were messages of support and agreement with my post. My anger was clearly shared. However, they expressed over and over again that they fear speaking out. They fear being attacked. They fear their fellow women turning on them. They are too afraid to speak out, and declare that they want equal opportunities.

The second, is that most of the men who agreed that there can be an unfair advantage for male quilters to get press and fine art exhibitions, would also do so only privately! THEY weren’t talking publicly either!

THIS is where my passion lies. It lies in feeling a strong desire to open lines of communication between men and women in the quilt industry. Yes, I want to change the world, but I have to start where I am at. And my world, is the quilting world. Perhaps I went about it in a less than polite way in my initial post. However, I don’t regret my post, and if I went back I would still post it (with slight editing.) The people I have met, male and female, have made it infinitely worth it.

As a woman, who has had her fair share of sexist experiences in this world, it can be incredibly difficult to say to the other sex, “I need your help!” The need for equality and the need for help in getting it, feel counterintuitive. It is extremely hard to ask men for help in this; we’d love to fix it by ourselves. The fact of the matter is, however, that if we get the equality we so desperately want, we are going to have to work together anyways. I’m not afraid anymore to say, “MEN! We NEED your help here! We NEED your voices, your support, your activism!” We want to be “up there” with you working together! I can do so with the knowledge that asking for help does not somehow prove I’m weak. (I’m appreciative of the revelations the past week’s conversations have brought me!)

Some interesting things are going to be happening as a result of these new conversations, and I hope you’ll watch early next week for the announcement of one of them. It’s a project I am VERY excited about!

In closing:

  • Thank you for those that contributed to the conversation; even if we were in disagreement
  • My apologies for the impression I meant ALL
  • My apologies to Irene Berry for calling you honey (I’d still like to see more thought in choosing the names for the male exhibitions!)
  • My sincerest thank you to; the one working behind the scenes, the forefather of quilting who took the time to write me an extremely thoughtful and helpful email, to the women who came to my aid expressing in more eloquent words what I was trying to say, and to the man that is brave enough to embark on a whacky idea with me!
  • Thank you, all of you, that take the time to read my blog!

Stephanie Forsyth
The IndieQuilter

 

7 replies

  1. I believe that what may have been circumvented and/or vented in this discussion is that the highlight of gender labels became the fore. The issue should centered on the artist. Regardless of gender I always search the issues of success garnered by a noted artist. And everyone’s definition of an artist may, thankfully, not be the same. Jim

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  2. I’m getting here late to the party. I read your initial post and I’m surprised that it caused such an uproar. Male privalege (how on earth do you spell this word) exists, throughout our society so it’s no surprise that it exists in the quilting world as well. The fact that quilts are undervalued is no doubt related to this. I think for me the frustrating part of the statement was the statement that now that men are quilting it matters….but perhaps that was a feminist statement…i.e. in our society nothing matters unless men do it. Was it said tongue and cheek.

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  3. I was one of the men who read your post as “all and always”. I was very bothered by it, especially since I have never been treated so poorly as I have in a few quilt shops since my sister taught me to quilt almost 10 years ago. That said, for the ladies who find me a novelty, I’ve never been treated more kindly. There must be a happy medium.
    I am so happy you (and Molli) posted that you have brought clarity to what you were trying to say. It is unfortunate in almost every walk and way of life that some seem yo coast by in the limelight while others toil and are not given the recognition they are due. Depending on the situation, that can be said for every race, faith, profession, gender, or economic status.
    Intollerance is as ugly as priveledged advantage.
    I work in the salon industry where men yse to dominate and now women do. I could care less as long as they have something to teach me or give me something to think about.
    You have done just that. Thank you from the bottom of my never to be a quilt celebrity or set-in-seam loving male heart!

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    • Thanks for your comments! I wanted to let you know – don’t assume you fee j comfortable in quilt shops because you’re a man – I have get uncomfortable in a TON of quilt shops, and it’s generally because the person is a shitty and rude person when that happens! Lol

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  4. Excellent follow up post, and I commend you for taking the time to mull over the responses from the first post. I would like to think you reread your first post again and again after the responses started piling in. I’ve felt similar thoughts on the original topic through my quilt career, and I’ve spent much time trying to figure out the perceived novelty of men quilting. Men have quilted from the beginning of quilting history right next to women. Why some men seem to rocket to the top confuses some of us. Our industry is market driven. Is there an answer, maybe not. Things are fickle.

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