I have been thinking a lot about this really well written article by Deanna McCool over the past few days. I used to make a snarky remark about men who quilt being famous - and this was mainly my way of making a point about sexism. My point being that men have a tendency to do something, make their presence known, be an expert. We women, sit back, ask permission. I am over-simplifying, but do you get my point? It is two different mentalities.
Something about this article was making me feel uneasy and I finally put my finger on it. As long as I have been quilting, we have had what used to be called "the quilt police" and what we at GenQ call "Q-bullies" which are those people who need to drag you down, point out your flaws, tell you that you are doing it wrong or essentially don't belong. This behavior is getting the spotlight lately and I hope the behavior will change quickly.
But I still felt uneasy and had to dig a little further and it finally occurred to me. The sexism that these men refer to? Well, we women have experienced it our whole lives. As long as I remember, someone has told me what I can and cannot do because I am a girl.
"Be ladylike", "Sit down", "Lower your voice", "Be polite", "Don't act up" - am I right ladies?
Often, it was men that I didn't even know telling me what to do or how to behave. I was exposed to cat-calls on the street even as a young girl not much older than my daughter. Or later asked to "Smile. It's not that bad" as I walked down the street. Really?!? What is that about? Why do I need to make your world more beautiful if mine isn't so bright today?
Remember the Virginia slogan "VA is for Lovers" that was everywhere back in the early 80's? I was wearing that t-shirt in NY while shopping when a guy came up and asked me "Is it?" as he ogled my breasts. I was 12 or 13.
It doesn't feel very good to be told what to do, does it? It doesn’t feel good to be judged solely by your sex. It certainly doesn’t feel good to be told that you don’t belong here just because you are a _________ [fill in the blank]. If you don't like it, imagine how we feel.
Women have dealt with this kind of "you don't belong here" mentality for centuries and honestly, I don't think you guys will have to deal with it for very long because we know too well how it feels.
My wish is that if you are a man in this industry, or anywhere really, that you might think about what I am saying and help to alleviate what we women go through. If you are complaining about the sexism that you experience, perhaps you can think about any sexism that you have imposed on women or that you see other men imposing and either speak up about or stop that behavior. This is a great conversation to have and I hope the dialog continues because it will create change.
I can't wait to hear what you have to say. So leave me a comment and let's talk about it!