It is currently Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:20 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 86 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: The Gentlemen's Club
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:16 pm
Posts: 108
Location: Hants, UK.
The Gentlemens Club
article and images by Richard Fish

An interesting and insightful question was raised by a female colleague of mine a few days ago when she visited the Art of Bonsai project website to read some articles:

"Why are they all men?"

A simple question, without a simple answer; at least I didn't have one handy. My colleague's overriding and most indelible impression of bonsai art was that this is a women-free zone.

Looking at the latest member list for the Art of Bonsai, under 10% of our membership is female. (Admittedly a small sample, but probably an indicative one nevertheless). Bonsai clubs are male dominated, bonsai web-forums are male dominated; and study groups also from my experience.

Perhaps the lack of female participation in bonsai has a simple answer; that is, it is simply a reflection of a wider difference in artistic participation between men and women.

In 1997, the National Endowment for the Arts conducted a survey of art participation within the United States and its results by demographic group are fairly conclusive. Although the organisation somehow neglected to include bonsai art in its survey, we can perhaps draw some conclusions from art participation and creation in other broadly similar fields.

Looking at the survey results for other visual arts such as painting, drawing and sculpture, direct participation in the creation of these works by women was 17.1% of the overall adult population; for men it was 14.6%. Photography gave broadly similar results, with 18.2% of the female population creating photographic art, against only 15.6% of men.

If any conclusion can be drawn from this, it is that in the overall area of the visual arts, women actually participate in the creation of these works more than men do. Female participation in bonsai art should not therefore be simply due to differences in the attractiveness of visual art between the sexes and the answer lies elsewhere.


Image


Bonsai is one of those now rare institutions - a predominantly male bastion in a sea of diversity. A club where we can relax with a drink, share ideas and enjoy mediocre food, while only the most determined women are allowed entry; and then only via the side entrance.

Why then, is the participation of women in bonsai akin to the levels of female membership of a gentlemen's club in St. James? What is it about bonsai that attracts men to bonsai clubs, forums and participation in creation of the art, while deterring women? Bonsai club committees and forum moderators certainly do not operate any form of direct exclusionary policy, so just what is going on here? What is it about our art that means that women are not inclined to join the stuffy, leather-bound, dark recesses of the male-dominated bonsai club?

My colleague's simple question raises deeper and more fundamental issues for our art. Is it possible to have the most successful and flourishing art form that, by design or accident, excludes almost half of the potential artists from participation? Is bonsai institutionally sexist?

The next Kimura could be called Jane, but probably won't be if this continues. Jane will be achieving great things elsewhere.


Last edited by Richard Fish on Sun Apr 10, 2005 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:01 pm 
Offline
Editor

Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:13 am
Posts: 1190
Location: Los Angeles, California
I will just point out one factor, from my personal experience.
Creating bonsai has one particular aspect that may not be too appealing to women: it involves hard manual labor.
After using my concave cutter for an hour, cutting branches of some species with hard wood, I can barely close my fist. It is hard for me to imagine a woman with delicate hands doing that kind of work. And these branches aren't even too thick, maybe 1/2 to 1 inch.
I would say the same thing about repotting, lifting and carrying a medium size yamadori (not to mention large ones). Sure, there is the dolly and all kind of mechanical devices, but my back tells a different story next day. I wouldn't even attempt to ask my wife to help me carry some of that stuff, and I my biggest trees are not taller than 3 feet.
I guess for the above reason you wouldn't find too many woman stone carvers either.
I am sure there are other reasons as well, but I just wanted to point out this one.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:19 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2005 4:49 pm
Posts: 32
Location: INDIA
Thanks RICHARD for initiating the topic & ATTILA for the viewpoin
here .
As a matter of fact the same concern was placed before ANDY few months back thru a personal e-mail ( if he remembers ) by yours truely & the same was posted in IBC forum under 'DISCUSSION' GALLERY.
My assumption was that the root cause could be the emphasis on Jin & Shari and collection of Yamadori etc that dwells on aggressive approach to an otherwise , rearing ,nurturing, caring art form which should have been the natural domain of women & womanhood.
Just imagine just how much colourfiul and creative & productive scene that it could have been.
Perceive what is the scene like in the IKEBANA front!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 1:10 pm 
Offline
Editor

Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2005 2:13 am
Posts: 1190
Location: Los Angeles, California
Soumya Mitra wrote:
Just imagine just how much colourfiul and creative & productive scene that it could have been.
Perceive what is the scene like in the IKEBANA front!

The addition of women would make bonsai much more exciting no doubt about that. It would have two huge benefits: for one, there would be a shift in the aesthetics of bonsai. The male perception, diverse as it may be, is different from what women see as important to them.
The second benefit has to do with the fact that I would be much more inclined to go to club meetings and other events considering that I would meet others than just grumpy old men. (Dream on, Attila).


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:42 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:27 pm
Posts: 36
Quote:
My assumption was that the root cause could be the emphasis on Jin & Shari and collection of Yamadori etc that dwells on aggressive approach to an otherwise , rearing ,nurturing, caring art form which should have been the natural domain of women & womanhood.

I have often thought the same. To the reluctance of making jins and shari, I would add an instinctive dislike of cutting. At club workshops I have often noticed that a proportion of women, always the same, had the men doing their cutting and pruning for them. Wiring they didn't mind so much. At a workshop with Walter Pall, when he refused to do the necessary branch removal for her, one of the women took 20 mins before she could bring herself to do it on her own.... and it was the first time she managed this, in 7 years of membership.
In the 2 clubs in this city (total membership about 220), I can think of at least four women who are outstanding bonsai-ists, with something like 20 years of experience behind them. But, come to think of it, their trees are almost entirely jin- and shari-free. What they (and I) have trouble with is mainly heavy gauge wire.
I am often surprised when I read about prevailing conditions in USA clubs, which are different from ours in Australia. E.g. the ratio of women to men, here, is about 50 - 50. Also, we have a fair proportion of young people.
Among the nationally accredited bonsai demonstrators, two are women.
Lisa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 11:59 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:31 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Lorton, Va.
I think bonsai, by and large, is about wilderness and interaction with it, at least from a male perspective. I think it speaks to something different in women and not as loudly.
One of my first attractions to bonsai was because I was a hunter (gun and bow). By the way, let's not start the arguments over that sport--it would be a sidetrack. I wonder how many other hunters or "simple minded outdoorsmen" do bonsai...
In bonsai, I saw the sometimes harsh natural beauty that I saw as I hunted and fished. On sharied, literati bonsai I saw the same marks of hard lives and harder battles that wild things face every day. I saw austere, sometimes even bleak, desolate landscapes, as well as lush, verdant woodlands. I've always appreciated naturally desolate places, like deserts and mountaintops as some of the most beautiful places on the planet. I don't think tropical beaches and flowering gardens can compare with them.
Also, this gender difference crossed my mind when we were talking about the "scary tree" and Lisa's reaction to my use of darker imagery to describe bonsai. There is a link between the appreciation of the bleak and the XY chromosome pair, I think. Not that women don't appreciate such things, they're just drawn to the less austere. Steven King (don't roll your eyes--he's capable of some good prose occasoinally--says "men's hearts are stonier ground" than womens.'
Just some random thoughts...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:38 pm 
Offline
Editor

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:44 am
Posts: 269
Location: Huntersville, NC USA
I have to admit this is an issue I have never even cared to consider. As far as I know, there is no form of discrimination present and therefore, just the way it is. I certainly welcome anyone (any demographic you choose) to become involved in bonsai. As long as it's open to all, I have no desire to ask why it doesn't appeal to some.
Someone may have the answer, but in all honesty I don't really care what it is. A non-issue in my book, but to each his/her own.
John


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 1:49 pm 
It is always possible that the reason is the same that is found in many of the other arts? women were treated as second class citizens for so long (and some would say, still are) with their efforts denigrated that few choose to exhibit their talents. Many who did succeed had to adopt a male persona to market their wares. With the rare exception of the wealthy female artists it must have been hard for women to practice their art after a long day of cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and a possible outside job. Women are still thought to be weaker, more delicate, ornamental at best (to make club meeting worth attending), when in fact they are as capable as men. It might be suggested they still have less free time to practice a hobby or prefer not to be ogled by grumpy old men. While I prefer to assume there are no sexists in this forum, the nature of the rules here ensures we know the gender of each poster. I have seen it transpire in bonsai. I have seen women receive the same treatment in nurseries that they do at car dealerships, with men trying to steer them to certain items instead of what they have asked for. Hopefully, as women continue to make strides toward equal status with men in other areas so too will they share their abilities with bonsai.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:35 pm 
Offline

Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:31 pm
Posts: 26
Location: Lorton, Va.
I think this runs deeper than simple clumsy sexist attitudes. In Japan, it is also largely a man's hobby, while ikebana is a hobby for women.
Undoubtedly there is some traditional gender role thing going on there, but I think there is much more to it. Don't know what that is, though...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 5:01 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2005 4:49 pm
Posts: 32
Location: INDIA
The original issue is not about gender discrimination but a poser about prevailing gender imbalance in bonsai arena.
Lisa?s post throws some light that shows how close or how far we are in understanding what attract or detract the women to this otherwise sensitive art.
It also indicates how unaware we are of the interplay of the basic instinct of women towards bonsai.
My another assumption is due to their instinctive abhorrence for harsh measure(necessary or not)even the women who are in the field would prefer more of fruiting/flowering/evergreen bonsai species than the deciduous or rugged perennials and preferring their bonsai styled in informal, slanting, S?mi cascade/ cascade and forest planting.
We may care or don?t care about their sentiment and brush aside the issue as non-issue but will that benefit the bonsai cause indoor & outdoor in times to come?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:19 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2005 6:27 pm
Posts: 36
Quote:
Just some random thoughts...

Wonderful, Mark, and much appreciated.
You may like the following anecdote:
A few years ago, when the raffle was drawn at the end of an annual show, the winner wasn't present. He lived near my place, so I was asked to take the prize, a small cascade, home and give him a call. He was very pleased and said he'd come over to collect the tree straight away. Within a few minutes, up drove this battered old bomb, and out stepped a huge guy in a checkered shirt, with long greasy hair and a beard, plus a big smile. He took the little cascade, which just about disappeared in his hands, and then told me that he used to work on cargo boats along the Murray River. One of his great pleasures was to watch the vegetation along the banks, but what brought him to bonsai were the struggling trees that grew out of the high cliffs. He talked about the combination of ruggedness and beauty. Just a few sentences, but they were quite evocative. He also told me that he had started to grow some bonsai in his backyard when he had to change jobs, out of nostalgia. He didn't want to learn about them and didn't want to join a club. I guess he was just one of the "backyard bonsai-ists", but who is to tell?
Lisa


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:39 am 
Offline
Editor

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:44 am
Posts: 269
Location: Huntersville, NC USA
Soumya Mitra wrote:
The original issue is not about gender discrimination but a poser about prevailing gender imbalance in bonsai arena.
Lisa?s post throws some light that shows how close or how far we are in understanding what attract or detract the women to this otherwise sensitive art.
It also indicates how unaware we are of the interplay of the basic instinct of women towards bonsai.
My another assumption is due to their instinctive abhorrence for harsh measure(necessary or not)even the women who are in the field would prefer more of fruiting/flowering/evergreen bonsai species than the deciduous or rugged perennials and preferring their bonsai styled in informal, slanting, S?mi cascade/ cascade and forest planting.
We may care or don?t care about their sentiment and brush aside the issue as non-issue but will that benefit the bonsai cause indoor & outdoor in times to come?

Soumya,
Of course you have every right to ponder why such a disproportionate ratio of men to women exists in bonsai, but the title of this thread contains "Gentlemen's Club" so the underlying inference is that the topic is about gender.
If you do indeed determine what causes this phenomenon, my question would be, "What are we supposed to do about it"?
Bonsai is here. Available to any and all who care to learn about it, and rightfully so. If one gender does not have a genetic make up that leads them to appreciate bonsai techniques, what are we supposed to do, change to accommodate a "gentler" method? Don't cut off branches anymore because it's harsh?
My answer is no. Bonsai techniques exist because they work. Granted, you don't have to employee all of them, but basic pruning is exactly that, basic. If (and this is theory, not opinion) women do not, as a group, want to proceed with basic pruning of unwanted branches, then they don't need to do bonsai. Period. It's not for them.
Now having said that, I can tell you that there are many women out there who are just as capable as any man when it comes to bonsai techniques. It's an individual choice whether to do bonsai or not. Anybody who WANTS to do bonsai is, and should be, welcome to do so. No group has exclusive rights to it, but if the established principles of bonsai have to be altered to make it more "user friendly" for a specific demographic, we are backing up, not going forward.
That's what I mean by a non-issue. Bonsai is what it is. If you like it, participate. If you don't, find something else. That's my only point.
And for the record, I use "you" a lot as a general term, not meaning anyone in particular.
Warmest regards,
John


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:57 am 
Offline
Editor

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:20 pm
Posts: 494
Location: south of Munich, Germany
It is a fact that with a few notable exceptions the game of chess is clearly dominated by men.
One can ask why this is so.
Some answers: it is an extremely competitive game with the aim of always totally destroying the opponent. It is not at all about being social.
It needs certain skills which seem to be more present in men, like being able and willing to think ahead for a dozen moves.
So this is clearly a game which is not made for femals exactly.
Why don't we change the rules of chess for being more of a female game?
Or why not change the rules of American football?
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.
But apparently there is something.
In this context somebody has pointed out that the overwhelming majority of cooks in the world is femals. But the overwehlming majority of world renowned cooks is male.
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.
Walter


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:28 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:08 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Toronto
Attila Soos wrote:
Creating bonsai has one particular aspect that may not be too appealing to women: it involves hard manual labor.

Well, if I may take my own limited personal experience as a yardstick: my wife may not be my match for the _ability_ to perform hard manual labour, but she is more than my match in her preparedness for it.
Yeah, I'm lazy.
Of course women face certain limitations when bonsai involves not only art but also physical strength. OK, so women weightlifters can't lift the same weight as men. Big deal!
Vive la diff?rence!
Quote:
After using my concave cutter for an hour, cutting branches of some species with hard wood, I can barely close my fist. It is hard for me to imagine a woman with delicate hands doing that kind of work. And these branches aren't even too thick, maybe 1/2 to 1 inch.

Well, analyzing the above, I don't see how a female could not cope. I have never used my concave cutter for an hour cutting branches of that size without pause. I have some fairly large trees, and even though it may have taken me an hour to prune what needed to be pruned, most of that time would have been spent judging and evaluating. The actual cutting would have taken no more than a few seconds. The interludes of musing would have provided plenty of time for weak fingers and wrists to recover from the last exertion.
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?
Quote:
I would say the same thing about repotting, lifting and carrying a medium size yamadori (not to mention large ones). Sure, there is the dolly and all kind of mechanical devices, but my back tells a different story next day. I wouldn't even attempt to ask my wife to help me carry some of that stuff, and I my biggest trees are not taller than 3 feet.

OK, so women can't jump as high or run as fast as men. But they still jump and run. And watching them perform, for me, is no less exciting than watching the men. Come to think of it, given their outfits, I much prefer watching them.
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.


Last edited by Reiner Goebel on Sun Mar 20, 2005 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:42 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:08 pm
Posts: 24
Location: Toronto
James L. Doggett wrote:
With the rare exception of the wealthy female artists it must have been hard for women to practice their art after a long day of cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and a possible outside job.

I think that has much to do with it. If women took as much time off for their hobbies as men do, 99% of marriages would end in divorce.
Us males have much to be grateful for considering the indulgence of our wives.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 86 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Copyright 2006-2008 The Art of Bonsai Project.
All rights reserved.
Original MSSimplicity Theme created by Matt Sims © 2004
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group