Gender Kisses


One of my favorite songs is “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo and the Bunnymen. One of the verses is ringing true in a new way the last week or so, as it points out that gender is two sides of the same coin, we’re all in this together:

“She’ll be my mirror
Reflect what I am
A loser and a winner
The King of Siam
And my Siamese twin
Alone on the river
Mirror kisses
Mirror kisses”

Recently, I posted the article on Men and Quilting. My temper was high. Commenters tempers were high. Other blogger’s tempers were high. At first, I was worried that my piece wouldn’t do as I hoped, but then it started to happen! I started to be able to communicate with people one on one.

One of those people, was Molli Sparkles. I think we managed to come to a common ground – not agreement on all things – but rather a place from which we could really have a dialogue on the bigger than the quilt world gender issue. Despite how my article came off, my intent at heart is a community that works together and in which gender doesn’t really matter. I’m also a big believer that you need to be the change you want to see in this world, and that you have to start from where you are. I’m a quilter, so why not start with quilting?

So I told Molli that I had an idea. I wanted us to each make a quilt with equalizing rules, to see whether or not gender plays a role in quilt making itself.  Molli readily agreed to this experimental challenge. (I would actually love to have an entire exhibition on this idea, perhaps if this small test challenge goes well it could be a reality?)

We set some parameter rules to level the field:

  • Use the Raspberry Kiss block tutorial (based off the block “Pattern without a Name” attributed to Nancy Cabot) in any way we choose
  • The finished quilt must be approximately 40″x40″
  • Solid fabrics only

Men and Quilting: Follow Up


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


Men and Quilting

IndieQuilter QuotesAwhile back, there was a discussion that cropped up on men in the quilt world, sparked by a podcast with Luke Haynes on While She Naps. Stephanie Boon wrote a blog post at the time, speaking to exactly what I will be touching on today. The frustrating ease with which male quilters are able to obtain attention, press, and high earning potential in the quilt world, simply because they are male. (Because white male privilege isn’t pervasive enough in every other aspect of our lives.) But more so, the seeming denial they are in, that it’s there.

I was going to write a post back then, but I talked myself out of it. Told myself to stay calm.

Then today, as part of my morning ritual of searching for quilt news, I came across the article “Men who quilt” on The San Diego Union-Tribune. The tag line? “San Diegan part of biennial museum exhibit, ‘No Girls Allowed!’.

*cue the tires screeching sound*

I’m sorry, what was that?

That’s right, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, CO is doing a three month exhibition of pieces by men only called, “No Girls Allowed!”. One of the participants is the well known Ricky Tims.

The exhibits managers at the museum, Irene Berry, is quoted as saying, “Women have been quilting for centuries, and then men start doing it and suddenly it’s important.” Irene honey, if you’re the exhibits manager, don’t you have a say in whether this “man only” show tradition the museum has had going since 1992, can keep going? Why are you pandering to the patriarchal bullshit we have been dealing with since the dawn of time?

As far as claiming that there is a “gender barrier” for men in “our” quilt world, you can just screw right off if you believe that people men. Bitching and moaning that you’re not as welcome, or that people assume you’re the husband when you’re in a quilt shop, really? That must be rough.

But, do you know who REALLY pisses me off? The women that fawn all over male quilters. I’ve seen it, and you know you have too. Well passed middle age women, flirting and acting all giddy towards a male quilter (including openly gay quilters with husbands, making it all the more disrespectful to be flirting with them.) Really ladies? C’mon and stick with “the team” here, would you?

We are living in a society where women are STILL not paid equal to men. We have to fight every day to keep our medical rights OUR rights and decisions, and not some white male in Washington’s. We are often expected to work full time and STILL take care of all of the children’s needs as well as the housekeeping and cooking duties despite a perfectly physically capable husband/partner (Which is why I am thankful everyday for having found a man who can take care of himself.) We live in a world where, when we are raped the patriarchal society we live in questions if we wore something, or went somewhere, or too late at night, that makes us deserving of the rape. In a society in which our daughters are being sent home, education disrupted for wearing leggings and accused of distracting boys from THEIR education (which you should find just as insulting for your sons as they are say your boys are to animal like to control themselves.)

But yeah, you go ahead and lose your mind over a dude, because he can quilt, JUST LIKE YOU CAN.

I just don’t know what to do anymore ladies. There are women in this industry that have put DECADES into trying to make a decent living with our art in quilting and still come up profoundly short of being able to anywhere near support ourselves with it. But a man can start quilting, and seemingly months into it, is making a living and being invited to fricken museums for solo shows. Or having fundraisers to get a machine, or pay for a one man traveling exhibition. Well I call bullshit. Double bullshit!

Pretty much every business that profits from we quilters, is owned by a man; fabric companies, machine companies, thread companies, etc. Men are profiting from us, when we as a gender can’t readily make a profit from this industry that is keeping them housed and fed comfortably.

What I want to see, is women like Pokey Bolton, to become like the Martha Stewart of our industry and give the male dominated companies a run for their profits.

So tell me, are you a company that is owned and operated by a woman/women? Please tell me and I will feature your company on my blog. Do you know of a fabric/thread/need/notions company that is owned by a woman? Tell me about it and I will contact them for a feature here on the blog. It is time we start helping each other (ourselves) and stop giving one of the few businesses that WE should be profiting from to some guy who decided it might be neat to learn to sew on a button.

Please email the female owned companies you run or know of (or for you men that are going to be all pissed off at me) at