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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:08 am 
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Posts: 24
Location: Toronto
Walter Pall wrote:
I do not believe that bonsai is really all that much of a man's game. I can see why women like different trees, have a different approach, but I cannot see why this should hinder them of doing bonsai.

Neither can I.
Quote:
But apparently there is something.

In my view it is that they have other priorities, mainly to do with family matters. Few women have the necessary leisure. Many men do thanks to their wives.
Quote:
In this context somebody has pointed out that the overwhelming majority of cooks ...

Cookers?
Quote:
... in the world is femals. But the overwehlming majority of world renowned cooks is male.

No wonder. The men do cooking as a profession to earn a living for their families. The women cook so their husbands are well enough nourished to earn a living at being world renowned cooks.
Quote:
I cannot see why the Queen of Bonsai would not be appreciated by the overwhelming majority of bonsai enthusiasts. So where is she? I would certainly help her, wherever possible.

Hm.
Could you imagine that you might need her help more than she does yours?
I could.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:25 am 
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Location: south of Munich, Germany
'Hm.
Could you imagine that you might need her help more than she does yours?
I could.'
Reiner,
sure if you take this offer for help artistically. I meant it politically. I may well be able to help someone getting gigs, getting on stages if I think the person deserves it.
Walter


Last edited by Walter Pall on Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:08 pm
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Location: Toronto
Walter Pall wrote:
'Hm.
Could you imagine that you might need her help more than she does yours?
I could.'
Reiner,
sure if you take this offer for help artistically.

That's the way it was meant.
Quote:
I meant it politically.

Fair enough.
But if a woman measures up in the art, why should she need anyone's help in politics?
I know, I know.
I'm dreaming.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:22 am 
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Location: Los Angeles, California
Reiner Goebel wrote:
I mean, how many 1" branches could you possibly have on one tree to make for an hour's worth of nothing but pruning without taking time out to think?.

What about pruning 500 trees?
OK, the woman doesn't have to, bu I do. So, I guess this issue is not relevant unless one is planning to have a whole nursery.
But one still needs a strong hand, no doubt. And this will disqualify a certain percentage of women.
Reiner Goebel wrote:
But bonsai is _not_ about size! So women create trees that they can carry and repot without the help of their beefy husbands. Being limited in the size of their bonsai does not mean that they are limited in the art of it.

Sure, they can do small bonsai, but excluding them from the whole range of sizes that men do is another limiting factor.
Have you ever been to a California juniper dig in the desert? Carrying that thing on your back for an hour to your car is no small matter for a little woman.
Sure, a woman doesn't have to do that either, she can just buy the tree in the bonsai store. Or can she? Well, she can buy some tree that men collected. And she will have to pay a lot of money for it.
All these little things add up to the advantage of men.
Reiner Goebel wrote:
In my view it is that they have other priorities, mainly to do with family matters. Few women have the necessary leisure. Many men do thanks to their wives.

Cooking, cleaning and other housework is not relevant if you look at why painting for instance has a higher percentage of women artist than bonsai. Housework equally apply to painters as well, and yet they have more women.
We have to look at circumstances unique to bonsai versus the other arts. Family matters are not unique to bonsai.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2005 12:57 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:06 am
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Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
I think I would like to dispute the basic notion that the majority of bonsai are done by men. Does anyone have real statistics other than anecdotal evidence?
In the two clubs I belong, the membership is about 50-50. The guys tend to hang together and the ladies tend to hang together. The Bonsai Society of Florida is about 50-50.
In India, when I visited three different cities recently for a bonsai tour, the audiences were overwhelmingly female. The last time I was at Katos' nursery I saw three female apprentices. Other countries will have different percentages, probably related more to cultural effects then artistic effects.
Some guys collect trees, some ladies focus on shohin, yet Mary Madison and May Miller certainly collect trees and have big ones too. When a weaker person (male or female) needs help, the stronger people (male or female) help out.
The majority of people on this discussion list so far are male, but that is not a basis for characterizing the whole field. If anything, this group is a self-selected (or invited by Carl) group that may have no statistical bearing on the overall male versus female ratio.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 1:58 am 
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Location: Texas
I can't say that I've truly observed this phenomena. Half of our club membership is women. The founding member back in the late 1950's was a women... and she is an active member to this day. Two of the four-or-so major artists in our state club are women.
But there are two gender related phenomena that I have observed:
    1. The wife of a good bonsai man is always in his shadow, despite the fact that she may be the better artist. I've observed this with some of our seniors. Therefore, the wives don't get much practice leading demonstrations and can become marginalized. Yet, I've seen many wives of this generation branch-out into other areas of the art such as accent plants, pottery, and suiseki, while letting their husbands lead with the trees. I think this is simply a generational phenomena.
    2. So many times people have asked me why I am "torturing that tree", or why don't I "just let it grow free". At face value, the art does not seem nurturing at all. In fact it appears to be the very opposite. Here's a recent example: I gave a ficus to my boss' children last year, but she like most mothers of young children will be the one to care for it. The thing is, she cannot bring herself to cut a single shoot, even after I tell her it will produce even more shoots because of the cut! Unbelievably, she afraid she will "hurt the tree".

I suspect that these could have something to do with the imbalance all of you are describing.
Kind regards,
Jim


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2005 4:49 pm 
I suspect it is both generational and regional. In my area I am used to women who are as involved as the male population, in all aspects of life. The local hunt club has a woman as Master of the Hounds, women run the local feed store (and will load materials for anyone), women also run the local greenhouse and a fairly large local nursery. Even my sister maintains her 87 acres of woodlands by her self with a couple of seasonal helpers. She is as agile with a chain saw as she is with pruners, her problem is finding help that can give a full days work along side her.
When I read a line like:
Attila Soos wrote:
What about pruning 500 trees?
OK, the woman doesn't have to, bu I do. So, I guess this issue is not relevant unless one is planning to have a whole nursery.
But one still needs a strong hand, no doubt. And this will disqualify a certain percentage of women.

I am tempted to add it also disqualifies a lot of men. Women of today are not the weak ?little women? they have always been assumed to be. However referring to them as such might be a clue as to why they choose not to be a part of bonsai.
Rather than debating why there are fewer women in the ranks, we should be discussing how to increase that number.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2005 6:30 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
James L. Doggett wrote:
Rather than debating why there are fewer women in the ranks, we should be discussing how to increase that number.

I strongly suspect that the idea was to try to better understand the former so that we can (if appropriate) address the latter.
Best regards,
Carl


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:02 pm 
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Location: Orange County NY
I have to laugh at this whole thread. Sounds like a gentlemen's club. It reminds me of the song Rex Harrison "sings" in My Fair Lady--"Why Can't a Woman be Like a Man?" or something like that. Let's go sit in the library for a brandy and a cigar.
I met my wife through the IBC. She has as many trees or more than what I have. Generally her trees are smaller, although not by much, but I don't think that has anything to do with gender. I know that Jim Lewis, who is known by many, does mostly shohin and mame sized trees.
I'd have to say that the club I belong to has about a 50/50 split between men and women.
I'd say if there is any gender difference, men are much more likely to get into pissing contests than women. Women know better. Look at the debates on bonsaiTALK and the IBC. Mostly men.
Craig Cowing
NY
Zone 5b/a Sunset 37


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 2:45 pm
Posts: 13
Location: Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Wow, I've been "away" too long! I'm wishing I had read this thread a little sooner.
I recently went on a collecting trip (albeit a short travel). I learned alot about collecting in rocky areas.
I was interested when the fella that showed me the dig site said that he had had some men there a couple of weeks before that who hardly dug anything, and let him do much of the work.
Now, I knew who a couple of them were, and know that they probably didn't dig much because they didn't see anything that was worth their efforts.
Lots of what was available was either extremely coarse literati-type stuff, or really nice little shohin stuff with good natural taper.
Some of the landscape was almost solid rock, at a very steep incline. One could easily lose footing and lose the seat of his/her pants sliding down the rocky slope.
I'm considered by some as a "tomboy," although I don't think I look like one :)
Why is that? The tomboy distinction? Well, it's probably because I love to go hiking, I love adventure (especially if there's any danger involved), and I don't mind "getting dirty."
I guess I've thought about this only in passing, but I don't really care. If bonsai is a sexist art, or gender biased, I've never really felt it. I don't know who we would have to hang, so might as well not sweat it.
Now, I don't spend nearly as much money on trees or collecting trips as I'd like to, because my husband and I are on a budget. But I think he limits his spending even more than I do. So men don't get a black eye there, in my book, either.
I get a little tired hearing that women are repressed because they are confined by family obligations. That sounds so sad, and I don't think it really is. While I know that I don't speak for the "female nation" (as my husband puts it) I speak for myself. I feel fine. I don't feel threatened or left out or dismissed. I might get more attention as a bonsai artist if I was better at it and had some better stock to start with. Until then, I'll nurse my collected elms and hackberry shohin yamadoris back to health. I'll tear the heck out of the trees that need some jin-ning or shari-ing. I'll jerk them out of their pots and throw them into the compost pile if they don't make it.
I appreciate that this is being discussed, and I applaud the men who are concerned about what might appear to be a shortage of female bonsai artists. I think one of the things that the world needs is more concsientous men like yourselves. And less victim-minded women.
I'm sure I'll really anger those women out there who are feeling repressed, and I wish them strength and contentment.
I'm headed off to my monthly bonsai club meeting now...
Cheers!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:20 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
This is an interesting topic, particularly because it has been so obvious to many. And I think that the answer is more simple than culture or being afraid of jinning.....it is simply an outdoor pastime.
Most women I know, prefer things that are indoors. They may have an outdoor sport, but generally they like to be indoors. (Remember, this is a broad generalization) Does it go back to the idea that very white skin, and nurtured hands, are a sign of femininity? Or even further back, to the women who were naturally selected for preferring to remain in the home cave or tent, not wandering off into the wilderness?
Women are also more social, they prefer group activities. Bonsai is something that you do in your own yard, by yourself. It doesn't lend itself to group settings on a regular basis. Not like "sewing bees" or "pot luck suppers" do. It is a more physically challenging pastime, but that can be overcome. The fact that most of the work in bonsai takes place out in the sun, in a yard, may be the easiest explanation.
There are hobbies that are mostly dominated by women. Doll houses, sewing, arranged flowers, decorating..... men don't mind as much being indoors, but women mind very much being outdoors.
Women in bonsai tend toward the gentler trees perhaps, in a general way, but plenty of women aren't squeamish about cutting things off or "hurting" something. (Otherwise, cut flower arranging wouldn't appeal to them)
Just a thought.
Joanie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 8:47 am 
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Location: Huntersville, NC USA
The last two posts were made by women and had more content than ALL the previous posts made by us men (me included).
Conclusions?
There are differences between the sexes...... wow there's a surprise, but bonsai ain't no Gentlemen's Club.

I for one am very glad about that. In my bonsai endeavors I have determined that bonsai can produce one of the most diverse groups of people in ANY endeavor. Most "handicaps" do not even eliminate the art from consideration! How lucky are we to share this wonderful art form with such a wide range of demographically different people? I feel we are extemely lucky and that is solidified with EVERY new encounter.
Here's a little secret too. I LIKE to have women involved in bonsai. They smell better, most definitely look better, and I think, are more receptive of instruction. Men, overall, seem more prone to have egos that block them from learning. Must be that testosterone thingy.
John


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2005 12:14 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
John, you touched on something that has really struck me on these forums...men are much more prone to competition and contentious discussion. Men are very straightforward. Women, on the other hand, are the masters of innuendo and backhanded compliments. Neither is better, neither is worse, just two ways of interacting. Men have full out fights, then mutter a bit and move on. Women let most of their fighting happen under the surface, and hold grudges. This is not a factor in why bonsai doesn't appeal to as many women, but it could be a factor in why women don't interact on the forums or in the major competitions as much. In general, we see relationships as much more interconnected, and tend to work out our differences so that we can continue to maintain some politeness, even if it is only surface deep. Notice that only a couple of us will actually get into the difficult discussions.....(hey, Michelle! How ya doing? We need to do lunch someday, you'd be a blast to sit and talk to)
Think about all the women in the 70's and 80's, and still today, that flocked to houseplants. Our houses were full of pothos and rabbit tracks, terrariums, Creeping Charlie..... if you really want more women doing bonsai, then here's what you need to do:
1. Show more images of tropical and indoor trees. Not just banyan style, which is too masculine for many. Develop better ways of growing tropicals that have flowers, or appealing foliage. (Abutilon? A tougher strain of Serissa?) Right now, the tropicals are almost an afterthought. They are the trees that you grow when you can't grow the big outdoor trees, and you know it. They can't compete in shows with the gnarly old oaks, so give them another section, where they can appeal on their own merits. Popularize them. Women are drawn to the smaller, more delicate, indoor trees so give them a thought. When was the last time anyone held a class or seminar on shohin tropicals?
2. Get the word out. Set out fliers on growing these trees near the display, so that they have access to the information. Make sure that some decent ones are for sale in your club plant sales. Offer a study group or small side club for them. It may take a bit of time, but women do talk, you know. Make sure that fliers for your club are dropped off at the local Women's Club, and any gardening clubs in your area. Try active retirement homes, too.
Now this all may be postulating on my part, and maybe it won't work. But it wouldn't take much effort, and you may add to the body of knowledge about tropicals/indoor trees anyway. Which can't hurt. Women are more attentive to detail, more nurturing, and often spend more of the family budget than men. If you get them hooked, you will have a wider and more solid demographic for bonsai.
Joanie


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:46 am 
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Location: San Diego, CA
We had "Bonsai Day" at the San Diego County Fair yesterday, and it was an interesting time for observation. The lectures on bonsai were alternated with lectures about other gardening endeavours. One was ikebana. People attending the bonsai lectures were generally a mixed crowd, men and women, but the men were exclusively the ones asking questions. Although one bonsai lecturer was a woman (and a very experienced one, too, an officer of the club) it was still apparent that mostly men were fascinated. My husband even commented that he was surprised at the number of young men attending. For the ikebana lecture, the women came. Women as the presenters (there were three presenters) and women in the audience, with a few men in rather fidgety attendance. I told my husband to note that the ikebana women were more feminine. And it was true. They all had shiny fingernails, the main presenter was in a kimono, the others had nylons on. They carefully and delicately unrolled their cut flowers from newspaper, set up their vases, did their displays. The women in the audience were also undefinably more feminine. Thinking back to the woman bonsai presenter, whose hands were rough and whose apron and clothes were appropriate for heavy outdoor work, he could see what I meant. The bonsai presenter was quite capable and comfortable with repotting, pruning, and serious outdoor cultivation. The ikebana women, in contrast, were very well groomed, with pale skin and very soft hands. They may "garden", but you got the feeling that they weren't out in the sun too much doing heavy labor.
And just to clarify the previous post, I am not advocating trying to get more women into bonsai.....just saying that if you have such a goal in mind, here is a way to do it. It would not enrich the bonsai art at all to lure people in who perhaps would not be interested in the wider aspects of it. In fact, I quite prefer the male dominated aspect. Much more fun to compete with you fellows on your own turf, with your own rules. Feminizing the bonsai culture would dilute it. I had hoped that someone would bring that up for discussion, but no one did.
Joanie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2005 9:41 pm 
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More women in bonsai? Here are a few quotes from replies on this thread:
Quote:
the ratio of women to men, here, is about 50 - 50.
In the two clubs I belong, the membership is about 50-50. The guys tend to hang together and the ladies tend to hang together. The Bonsai Society of Florida is about 50-50.
Half of our club membership is women. The founding member back in the late 1950's was a women... and she is an active member to this day. Two of the four-or-so major artists in our state club are women.
I'd have to say that the club I belong to has about a 50/50 split between men and women.

I have seen quite a few clubs, here and abroad, and the percentage of women is mostly around 50%. Participation on the Internet is not indicative of the number of women involved in bonsai.
Many of the women's preferences you mention, Joanie, don't correspond to my experience at all.
Quote:
...men are much more prone to competition and contentious discussion.

Are they? You can't really judge of that, since you don't have a representative proportion of women on these forums. Note that I am a woman too, btw. ;-))
Quote:
Men are very straightforward. Women, on the other hand, are the masters of innuendo and backhanded compliments.

Another generalisation. Too many of those, here.
Rather than attracting more women to bonsai, I'd like to get more of them participating in discussions on the Internet.
Any suggestions, anyone?
Lisa


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