Men and Quilting: A Response

molli_sparkles_dickinthedoor

I just got home from my daily spa treatment, feelin’ all relaxed, only to be greeted by two confronting blog posts about men, gender and quilting. Ooh, la, la, a hot button topic for sure! So straight up, I initially wasn’t going to write this reactive post, and add more fuel to the fire. I just didn’t think I had the energy; I mean, I have a binding to sew on a quilt tonight. And isn’t that the goal for all of us, really? We want and need to explore our passion through the quilting processes. While I appreciate this dialogue about men infiltrating a traditionally women-dominated craft, does it need to happen? I get it, as a man, I have privilege, in so many arenas. There is no possible way I could ever know how many, and to what extent. But the engagement from these blog posts seems over-the-top hostile.

Indie Quilter – “Men and Quilting”

Dawn Chorus Studio – “Luke Haynes, Quilter: that gender question”

I’ll be clear. I’m not about to pander to reverse discrimination because some people (women or men) think I shouldn’t receive acknowledgement for my quilts because I have a penis. Guess what: my penis is not going away. I like it right where it is. If someone wants to give me media exposure, or accolades, or a giant fucking teddy bear because I am a man who quilts, I am more than willing to accept them all. Both women and men, in all industries, have been accepting far more, for far less, for a very long time. I believe in the body of work I produce, knowing full well some of it is better than others, and am excruciatingly happy that anyone would love it for any reason they like.

However, to imply that the men who have successfully “made it” in the quilting or craft world, have done so simply because of their penis is ignorant, judgemental, and condescending. I would also add here, that even if that was the only reason, well then “shake what your momma gave ya!” The men who have successfully made a financially viable career out of their craft are few and far between. I don’t have a single hard statistic about this though, so I think we will all just have to assume for the best. Those that do succeed, (and I personally know a few) have done so through hard work, determination, and fighting for every penny they can get. Their dick may have got them in the door, but it was their perseverance that kept it wedged open.

If I was a woman who read those blog posts above, I’d personally be insulted by someone belittling me by calling me out on fawning over someone simply because of their gender. We’ve all had our fanboy / fangirl moments: I remember the first messages I received from David Butler and Pat Bravo, and nearly wetting myself! I was shocked that someone of their calibre would have a minute to spare on me. I sincerely hope that if I have the chance to meet any of you, Glitterati, that we engage each other on the basis of admiration for the craft, and not because of our genitalia. If I am ignorant on this situation, please excuse me, but the flirting, I’ll still allow it!

If you don’t know, years before this whole museum faux pas happened with the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum’s upcoming exhibition featuring only male quilters called “No Girls Allowed!” I had started an international quilting bee called, get this: No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee. (#NGAQB) Hmpf! It was titled that with tongue planted firmly in cheek, with reference to The Little Rascals “He-Man Woman Haters Club.” Now, calm down, none of us in the quilt bee hate women. Some of us are married, and I have whole-heartedly considered myself a feminist since my teenage years. Regardless, consider me guilty for instilling any resentment, hatred, or division between the genders by gathering a motley crew of men to take up needle and thread and make beautiful quilts. (#sarcasm) As for this museum show: applause all around! Imagine the little boys (and girls) who might go to this show and leave with a sense of self-worth, or creative energy, or a breakdown of gender stereotypes.

Likewise, I also started a Facebook group called Men Who Quilt, which as of today has 621 quilters who identify as men. They come from every walk, skip, and jump of life. They make quilts for every possible reason you could imagine. Some suck at it, but they keep going. Some are amazing, but they keep going, too. Some of them use traditional patchwork, and others use nothing but modern, negative space. They teach each other, they learn from each other, they share their successes and their failures. They organise quilting retreats, quilt shows, one-man art exhibitions, and their art practices. They talk about where to buy fabric for cheap, how to up-cycle clothes, which battings to use for what, where to find a long-armer, which sewing machines to buy, how to stitch in the ditch, and what it means to be a man who quilts. In short, they do exactly the same things that every woman who quilts does; they just do it with a penis. No, they’re not asking for privilege, they’re just asking to be accepted into a craft world that many would rather deny them entry in to. Forming a group when you’re a minority isn’t about division, it’s about creating a network of support.

So if you want to pin Luke Haynes against the wall (as did previous blog posts) for not choosing enough feminist language, or for believing in himself (and penis) too much, or for using what was given to him biologically and creatively to his full potential, then know this: you’re gonna need a helluva lot more pins. Because male quilters aren’t going away. I don’t believe there is space in this world for us to have a gender-binary-only system of craft. Despite the even bigger fact that genders are not binary, and that really fucks up any arguments made about the true recognition and appropriation of quilting by solely men and/or women. So yes, I believe in, and respect the predominant female history that men who quilt stand upon, but let’s start thinking about the future history we can make together!

Whew! I guess I did have the energy for that after all. Now, me and my hostile penis are going to go finish that binding.

181 Responses

  1. C says:

    Hallelujah to that!

  2. Ruth says:

    In a world dominated by gender stereotypes I really wish that people would focus instead on the craft or person. After all you do not sew with your penis, therefore you should be praised (or critiqued) on the handwork rather than on your gender. You don’t have a whole lot of choice in which gender you are assigned at birth but you do choose your creative outlet and your personality decides if you shout your achievements from the roof top or quietly show your loved ones your latest project. Thank you for writing this post and for starting the Calvin and Hobbes-esque club that my 8 year old son (who loves to sew and play on my old singer machine) thinks is brilliant. I love that fact that you and the other men who quilt are so enthusiastic about encouraging other men and boys to see that quilting is not a women’s only club. Keep up the good work and sparkle on!

    • Ruth – I just loved this comment, and the positive affirmation that men who quilt are providing encouragement to your son! I read this comment out loud to Mr. Sparkles and it got a collective “Aaaah” between the two of us.

      Agreed, some people shout about their work, and some people quietly persevere. I tend to err on the shouting side of things, and maybe that is why I’ve received more recognition than others doing a better job, but doing it quietly. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Amoreena says:

    I have always been a feminist, but unlike the two blogs you referenced, I don’t believe that means I need to be a victim. I really don’t understand the thought behind either of those other two blog posts. Why go on the attack? It’s okay to be upset about the way someone expressed their thoughts, as Dawn clearly is, but the vitriol in both of those blogs does nothing to further the conversation, or create understanding. If anything, it creates division.

    I admire you for your work, and your voice on your blog. The fact that you are a man has never been a part of it. I knew you before your No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee, and know how much you enjoy being able to network with other men who practice this craft. Thank you for this thoughtful, and sassy, post!

    • Stephie says:

      I’m sorry if you think I’m vitriolic, it’s not my intention.

    • Why is it, anytime a group that does not have equal rights, expressed frustration at being “less than”, they are deemed “vitriol”? I never said that I am a victim, I said that we need to stand together (women AND the men who are agree they should be treated equally), and make that equality actually happen. I stated that unless women support other women, that can’t happen.

  4. Jen B says:

    Yes, some male quilters get a bit more attention because of the “novelty” factor, but do the authors of those articles really think that if the men in question weren’t good quilters, they would still get the attention? If a man wrote a similar blog post complaining about female mechanics (for instance) these women would be even more outraged. Yes, the world does tend to discriminate against women, but that in no way gives them the right to do the same to men. As for me, I honestly couldn’t care less what gender a quilter is, I’m more concerned with “it is pretty?” than “did a man make it?” – I didn’t, for instance know you were a man at first (I saw Molli and thought a woman was writing), but it didn’t change anything when I realised you were. Sorry for the rant.

    • Don’t apologise, rant away! 🙂 Agreed, it takes talent and an original viewpoint to continue to stand out. As they say in the photography industry, you’re only as good as your latest photograph.

    • Stephie says:

      But Luke isn’t concerned with ‘is it pretty?’, he states he’s making fine art, and there are no rules to say art has to be pretty. If you read my article you’ll note I didn’t say he wasn’t a good quilter or that he doesn’t deserve any attention on the merit of his work. If you listen to the podcast and then read Luke’s post that he published in response to it, perhaps you’ll notice the contradictions and facile statements too. Maybe they’ll make you think and get irritated, maybe they won’t, but I’m not calling you names because you have a different opinion to me. And why do you assume I’d be “outraged” if a man was complaining about a female mechanic if her work wasn’t up to the mark? That’s just nonsensical and completely unfounded.

    • The issue is not whether or not those male quilters are good quilters. (I never stated that they aren’t.) The issue, is that the “novelty” factor is a direct representation of a sexist mentality in our society that something is more important and noteworthy is doing it. As to the argument that if a man wrote the same article, is a moot point because they are not an oppressed people in regard to civil/equal rights. And you are right that the concern should be more on “is it pretty” (i.e. GOOD) than, “Look at this a MAN made it!”

  5. charlotte m. says:

    You know, maybe it’s just my age, or maybe it’s the battle with cancer I have just been through, but all this past year I have felt nothing but sad at the state of the world today and the hatred and fighting between different factions in all walks of life. This one is no different to me. Maybe because I don’t feel like I have a dog in this fight. Yes, I am woman(hear me roar) and I am proud to be one. I am also a quilter and a creative person in other ways. I don’t do it for money, although there was a time when I wanted to. What I don’t get, and here again, maybe just my age has changed the view for me, is why can’t we get along better than we do. I love quilts. I love quilters who show and share their creations. I am so tired of the us versus them in quilting. Yes, I believe that all people, regardless of gender should be valued and paid what they are worth. I know that is not how it truly is. But really, quilting, art, creativity, can’t we just admire and support each other? I love your sass, Molli and that’s why I come here to see you and your work. So much of it is so beautiful to me and I love that you have found your creative voice. I follow many more quilters who are women and I do it for the same reason. Please, can we please just have peace in the world, especially among the quilters? Okay, off my soapbox now.

    • I think so many of the same things about the world today. Can’t we just forgive each other for our imperfections, and embrace each other for our charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent?! (In the words of RuPaul!) Your soap box sounds like a great place to be!

    • If no one fights for that change, then nothing would ever change. You say you recognize that “Yes, I believe that all people, regardless of gender should be valued and paid what they are worth. I know that is not how it truly is.” Why should the fact that it’s being experience in the quilting/art/creativity realm relegate it to not being worth fighting for? I understand you not wanting to fight the fight – I don’t understand your suggesting that none of the rest of us do so. Not all art is pretty, some arts (quilts included) are visual protests and representation of someone’s struggle. The notion of asking for peace is great, but peace doesn’t come without change. And change doesn’t come without action. And action doesn’t come without passion. And passion isn’t always polite. As a separate note: I am sorry that you have struggled with cancer. I have lost people, and had loved ones affected by it, and cancer just plain sucks. I am glad you are still here, and commenting.

  6. Paula says:

    I am shocked at the vitrolic comments in the blog posts that you reference and thank you for the thoughtful way in which you have addressed the issue. I echo Ruth’s comments above. Quilting, and indeed crafting of any sort, should not be gender biased, it should be open to all those who wish to partake. Everyone who wishes to be creative should be encouraged to do so and this is why my seven year old son has been allowed behind a machine since he first expressed an interest in sewing four years ago, and why I suspect that it won’t be long before my younger will soon be joining him.
    I can only hope that when my boys are older there will still be groups such as your No Girls Allowed Bee and Men Who Quilt for them to join because I think you have hit the nail right on the head with your comment “Forming a group when you’re a minority isn’t about division, it’s about creating a network of support”
    Keep on sparkling!

    • So I have to say this here, “Forming a group when you’re a minority isn’t about division, it’s about creating a network of support” … that line, I didn’t write it! It was penned by my far more intelligent, WOMAN quilting friend, Amoreena. I did totally steal it from her, and she’s already called me out (in a good humoured way) about it.

      Now, I think we need to start a NGAQB – Junior division! Now taking applications! 😉

    • Stephie says:

      Here we go again with the “vitriol”…

      • Brenda says:

        I would certainly argue that quite a few of the comments were “vitriolic” if not the posts. Yes, there was anger, but that doesn’t make it vitriolic. I’m afraid too many people took their anger at a situation which doesn’t have a definite target to aim for and turned it against people who were handy instead of at the situation.

    • The entire point of my post, was that men shouldn’t gain more attention just because they are men. My whole point was that their gender shouldn’t matter, let alone make it open doors easier for them. If a group is named “No Girls Allowed”, doesn’t that immediately imply a division, rather that a network of support? I’m not opposed to a male group/show. I am opposed to the exclusionary (click bait) titles of them. (Though if we are being realistic, and you want as you say there to be no differential in gender in quilting, then groups like that go against your argument.)

      • The difference here, is that attitude from which the group is birthed from. It’s not to create separation because we don’t want to belong, instead it’s to highlight the unique differences of backgrounds and experiences that can influence the items that are created. Maybe there will be no creative differences, maybe there might be a few, or thousands; we are still exploring that. As for the titles, you’re right. This one can easily be misconstrued, and the guys in the NGAQB definitely discussed this at some length prior to its selection. We were always aware of its clickbait nature, and I definitely pushed for its selection because of the publicity it could potentially create. But I don’t feel guilty for using my gender (just like any other tool in my belt) to create success (however that is defined). Likewise, a woman shouldn’t either! However, if the quilts in the NGAQB sucked, I don’t think people would be interested, despite them being created by men.

  7. Alyce says:

    Perseverance and skill, for sure. No one remains in the spotlight for long, no matter how spectacular their genitals are. Jealousy is clearly playing a big role here. Keep your head up and focused on your own, stunning work.

    • Oh you know I’ve always got my head in the clouds. 😉

    • Stephie says:

      Oh for goodness sake, jealousy?!?! Really, you think I have nothing better to do with my time than be jealous of others – ask anyone that knows me, I haven’t got a jealous bone in my body. If you don’t like what I say, say so, and reason with me, don’t just dismiss my thoughts and opinions as jealousy. It’s pretty lame thing to do.

    • You’re absolutely right. I am jealous that men have more equality/rights than I have.

      • Brenda says:

        To paraphrase George Orwell’s last line of Animal Farm, “All quilters are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Generally, more rights come by fighting directly for them, not by taking from those who have more. It’s a frustrating ongoing struggle, but change does happen, albeit slowly.

  8. Leigh Anne says:

    The article I read brought out a whole lot of feelings in me and part of that was feeling insulted. Because I follow some male quilters on the internet I am painted as someone panting around after y’all. Please. Of the 500 people I follow on IG and the 100 blogs I follow, a very small handful of those are male. I follow them (you included) because I like their quilting style and their voice and because we agree on a lot of topics. No offense, but I could care less about your penis :p

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several male quilters in the last few years (yourself included) and while it was lovely to meet them, I was equally excited to meet the female quilters I met in that time. Again, my excitement was based on how much I enjoyed their quilts and their personalities and had nothing to do with what was in their pants.

    Also, quilting is a tough art to make a living at regardless of your gender. If you do so, then kudos to you for going after what you want and using every tool at your disposal to do so.

  9. Jodie says:

    I’ll be honest and say when I first started reading your blog I didn’t know you were a man – following a link from another blog in a blog reader I never saw the website and your photo, and writing about sewing by someone called Molli, well it seemed obvious.
    When I realised a few posts later my mistake I was curious. This was something I’d not seen before, men, sewing! And then I thought ‘so what? ‘
    Sewing is sewing , quilting is quilting. We come to look at the quilts, not at the people who make them usually. Would we rather look at an ugly quilt because the maker was beautiful, or a beautiful quilt made by someone of average looks? Show me the pretty quilts any day!
    Unless you’re using your penis as a third hand to improve your free motion quilting skills, I can’t see how being a man gives your sewing a leg up.
    Let’s all get back to fondling the fabric and looking at the pretty sewing!

    • Haha… a third hand, oh lord, that is a visual!!! I actually had the nickname Molli before I started quilting, so it was an unintended consequence. I love what it does now though, exactly per the situation that happened to you. If it makes someone go, “Oh. Huh, okay then.” That is perfect!

  10. I agree that the focus should be on the craft and not gender. I’m more infuriated by the comments on that first post than the post itself. I am a feminist and we do live in a patriarchal society, women should and do demand equal pay and the same rights and job opportunities as men. I agree that male quilters get attention for being male but also that that isn’t enough to sustain a career. There’s room for lots of people to shine regardless of gender. Ultimately it’s a much broader problem and there should be equality, for everyone.

    • Hey Lucy – I saw your comment to another male quilters response to that blog post. Agreed, there is some unresolved anger on both sides, (undoubtedly deep seated beyond the quilting issue). Tempers flare and tongues lash out in these situations. Equality for everyone as human beings is the goal, right? I just don’t see how relying on the sins of the generations before us help move us to a common good. Acknowledgement of their existence, yes, but forgiveness is such an easier and more productive path.

    • I agree that it’s a much broader problem. But I feel that one has to start from where they are at in their struggles to start making changes in the world. I’m starting from this industry. And therefore, want to start with making a change (or at least getting people to realize that the male privilege is part of our industry too). Small changes change the world.

    • Helen says:

      Hear hear Lucy. Also, I always thought so few people make a living by their art, that for most of us it is about enjoyment the actual process. And gender doesn’t come into that.

  11. Mary ann says:

    I won’t belabor the point but I too am so tired of the fighting, hatred, vitriol in the world the last 5 yrs. Politics everywhere and not in a good way. I have chosen to dump those folks from my feed and my life even those I might have been close to once but sometimes you do have to stand up and be counted. I need all my energy to support, love and create. Thanks for saying this all way more elequentlly. Sew on, hugs your loved ones and bedazzle us with your quilts!

  12. Steph says:

    I find it interesting that because I wrote that I would like women’s quilting/work to be valued at the same pay rate as the men in this industry, people are claiming I am biased against men. I never said I don’t want men in this industry. I never said I hate men. I never said the men selling $10k quilts aren’t making good quilts. What I am saying, is that women being underpaid and under represented in the art world has been a issue since, well, ever? It’s interesting that because I state blankly that I want to be paid the same as a man, I am somehow asking for special treatment. My heart is saddened by how many “I’m a feminist but….” comments I have read here, and on Instagram in regard to my article. It rings out much like the phrase, “I’m not racist but…”

    • It is interesting and I think it’s an important discussion, as is the one about how we value the quilts and our time. Equal pay should be standard and I don’t know how anyone can disagree with that!

    • Stephie says:

      It’s fascinating isn’t it? Funnily enough I never said “I don’t want men in this industry. I never said I hate men. I never said the men selling $10k quilts aren’t making good quilts.” either! Where do these illogical assumptions come from?

  13. jo says:

    Why people feel the need to belittle others I have no idea. As to gender in quilting, I see no reason at all to even think about it, talent is talent, the desire to create is the desire to create, I myself fall pretty far down on the list of talent and creativity. People need to stop bashing others male or female, go work on your creativity and leave everyone else alone to work on theirs.

    • I agree Jo, but don’t sell yourself short!

    • I was NOT personally bashing any male quilter. I was bashing the way in which our society has set things up that a male quilter doing was is generally coined as “women’s work/craft”, makes them receive invitations to press released more readily. I was bashing the way that readers readily accept articles that essentially are saying “quilting is now important, because a man is doing it”. And I did not lay all the blame on men. I lay blame on men and women that blindly accept the way this works.

      • I cannot speak for other people, but as a guy who’s gotten a lot of press, I can at least offer to explain how that happened.

        When I came to the quilt industry around 2009, I had collected quilts for 20 years and nobody knew about it. Since I had been a magazine editor for ten years, I knew how to communicate with editors. Truth is, they all approached me. It took a few years, though, and it was because of the things I was doing.

        Being male was an interesting side-note if it was included at all. It was never the emphasis of my story. My work with quilts and quilt history was what attracted the magazine editors to me. Generally, the storyline was: quilt collector comes out of nowhere with eye-opening collection. (Oh yeah, and he’s a guy). We could actually go back, read the articles and see all of that if we wanted.

        The first magazine to approach me was Quilters Newsletter. The writer sent me an e-mail out of the blue one day, and asked if I would be OK with being interviewed. It was my mission to share the collection, so I said yes, but looking back it is funny to think they may have felt there was a chance I’d say no. Apparently collectors are very hard to come by, but I had no idea. I hadn’t even seen the magazine before they reached out to me.

        After that, the door was open, and I kept it open by being easy to work with, efficient and professional. I provided all the photos, all the copy — and it was clean copy, not a lot of editing required — and I got it to them on time or early. In other words, I had an opportunity for which I was prepared, handled it professionally, word started to get around, and it led to other opportunities.

        A curator from San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles saw the interview and invited me to do an exhibition. When I was getting ready for that, Quiltmania approached me, wanting to come to my home to do a photo shoot, and I said no at first, but we worked out a time. Like Quilters Newsletter, I hadn’t seen the magazine or even heard of it before they approached me. That day when they came to my house, we looked at quilts all afternoon. That was when they asked me to do a book, more magazine work, and an exhibit in France. It was all about the quilts and me being prepared to share them.

        So, that’s how Bill got all the ink. It’s not something I asked for or ever expected, and even with all the opportunities there’s not a windfall of income from it. That wasn’t my goal anyway.

  14. Christa says:

    The biggest thing I learned from Luke Haynes was to be confident in your work, rather than self-deprecating, as many women are. We need more of that in the quilting world!

  15. Dana says:

    I didn’t read your whole post word for word, though I did read the one about Luke you linked too, which I really agreed with the critique of his statements.

    I might say that making it about having a penis is a strawman. The context is you are working in a historically womens craft that women did as a matter of survival in a very oppressive patriarchal world. It is going to be uncomfortable at times and checking and analyzing one’s privilege in such a setting is not unwarranted and could be used as an interesting opportunity for growth and learning. It is not about you, or your penis, it is about the fact that womens work has been systematically undermined for centuries, and that is going to have ramifications today.

    • Thank you! This is precisely what I was trying to say. I am not asking that women get special treatment or get paid more than men. I am simply asking for equality, and I’m not just asking it of men but of fellow women as well.

    • Frank says:

      There may have been a better way to get that point across other than belittling issues that affect men, and shaming women who admire their work. If what was meant, was what was just stated, perhaps the edited version would be preferable to what was posted. I have had that blog post texted, messaged, and emailed to me all fucking day. And by people who are shocked that it came from you. I’ll admit, I was shocked too. I used to think we were all on the same side. But what the fuck do I know, right?

      • Frank, sorry if I am mistaken here but is your comment directed at my original post? I will answer assuming it is. I’m not sure why anyone would be shocked actually. I have been open about this forever. And my post is my reflecting on many previous posts and discussions about men, quilting, and the pay disparity between the two. It comes from every news article I see about men quilting, being about them making a living at it, and nearly every one about a female quilter being about how she is making things for charity/giving away quilts. It’s frustration at women for not supporting each other in this business. Obviously if a man or woman reads my blog, and they in fact agrees that women should be paid just as much as any guy making a quilt, then I thought it would be a given that they would inherently know that I am not directing my message to them.

        • Frank says:

          Your original post belittled the struggles men face, instead of simply stating a case for income equality. Comparisons were made, in your post, to patriarchy and rape culture, and I found that shocking. More shocking was when it was brought up in the comments, verbatim, the whole thing was denied, and one commenter told another to “choke in a dick”. In rallying support, you succeeded in alienating many, and that’s not the fault of men. Thats just an unfortunate reality, and the reason so many don’t rally and network and support each other. If your comment is solely about supporting women, there’s no reason to mention men, other than using them as an example of what’s wrong in the world of women, and that’s how it read. I read it to mean we aren’t all on the same side, women should stick together, and men are interlopers in a female oriented industry. And it sucks. I’m sorry if that strikes you as unpleasant, but we all have feelings. If I were as big of an asshole as my reputation dictates, I’d type a sarcastic “boo hoo” here. Good luck with your rally. I have work to do.

          • My argument is that every time a woman posts/writes about her struggles she is immediately faced with comments about how hard it actually is for men, and how they struggle. That is so often the response we get when speaking out. (It’s the exact response I got from several men as a result from my post.) This is simply a gut reaction to be confronted with the fact that they are privileged. “No I’m not privileged, see, see how I struggle too!” But what this reads as is, “Stop complaining, it makes me uncomfortable. I have had some struggles too, so you have no right to complain about yours.” In simple turns, comments left that men struggle too, is a way to try and divert the attention away from the very real issue of women’s struggles in this society. It is saying that men’s struggles are more important and challenging, so stop whining ladies.

          • Frank says:

            The post called out men with condescension. People get defensive. It’s the nature of humanity. It was antagonistic, and instead of making a case for equality, you belittled their issues preemptively with a snide “boo hoo”. I say this repeatedly, because you don’t seem to think it’s a problem. While I have also acknowledged that the inequality exists, you continue to beat me over the head with it. You’re preaching to the choir. But you’ll never find support from people by kicking their legs out from under them. Even if you didn’t intend to. Burning a fire to stay warm can still burn your house down if you pretend it’s not out of control.

  16. When I see the quilts that Luke Haynes makes, I am 100% certain the attention they receive is merit-, not gender-, based. They’re MASTERFUL. And a woman making the same caliber of quilts would–and does–receive identical recognition in this community [cough. Jacquie Gering. cough]. The idea that Luke Haynes is only portrayed as a bad ass because he is a man disappears in a puff of purple sparkles when you take one look at his work. He’s a bad ass because his quilts are–and I checked on this–bad ass.

    Is gender equality a heavier issue deserving of dialogue? Yep. Might LUKE have a bit of an artist’s ego? Yep. But in the matter of Quiltresses v. Luke Haynes, the equality discussion is moot. Call me when his quilts suck and he’s still receiving accolades. Then we’ll talk gender.

    • P says:

      As long as you realize a lot of the quilts Luke Haynes has been “making” are actually just his designs stitched and quilted by other women he pays. When this bit is made public, and the women are given credit beyond just a pittance of a paycheck (or he starts calling himself a designer rather than a quilter), I will have much more respect for him and his quilting.

    • Thanks for your comment Marta. I agree, Luke (even with using studio sewists) has worked bloody hard to command such attention and create the body of work he has. That shouldn’t be lost in this dialogue, so I appreciate you reminding us of this. I’d also ask others, if it was a woman using studio sewists, would that be okay?

      • Frank says:

        I work with a lot of women (big name quilters in the industry) who use studio sewists to piece tops, and send them out to be quilted. It’s not easy to continue to produce work, while writing, speaking, traveling, teaching, and having a personal life. They don’t get called out for it, though.

  17. Linda says:

    I have to say that it makes me sad that you felt you needed to form a group of just men for support. I feel left out…. Would it be ok to say whites only, females only etc? Did you not feel welcomed in other groups – in groups that are formed through common interests etc. It feels like a step backwards, of men wanting to keep women out…. again. Thats why it hits such a nerve. But it doesnt make me angry, just sad and left out, of missed opportunities.

    • Frank says:

      We have been in other groups and ignored, or greeted with group posts “Hello Ladies!”, no matter how many times we raise a hand, and wanted a safe space to create without having to justify our presence. I don’t feel left out at Curves and their women only policy, even though I enjoy exercise. There are other places where I can sweat.

    • Hey Linda! This is a valid question and viewpoint, one that I have thought a LOT about since starting the Men Who Quilt group. To be honest, I never felt I needed the group for myself. It was founded because I had men who quilt (globally) approach me saying they wished they had a space where they could talk about quilting with other men because they had received dismissive attitudes from women quilters (amongst other reasons as well).

      I think you over-simplify the argument with the suggestion that “whites only” or “females only” style groups were created. If those groups were created to provide a sense of community around a POSITIVE shared interest — I think that would be okay. (although, granted I can’t see much positivity around a “whites only” style group.. ICK!) If a community of women wanted to started a group where they discussed women’s topics for their own improvement and didn’t want the input of men, I certainly wouldn’t be offended! More power to you and the safe environment that you want to create for yourselves because it’s done with positivity. However, if you created that group with the thought that your group was infinitely better and no other groups should exist (negativity) there’s a problem.

      Does that make sense? I’m probably not expressing myself clearly enough here.

  18. Katy says:

    Well I’m not entirely sure I can comment on this post, since my mum just sent me a link to an article where a (male) headmaster said that as I went to an all girls’ high school I couldn’t talk to men… (I bet some of my colleagues wished that were the case!) Oh, and I’m also not a past middle-aged woman fawning over you, damnit, I’m a total failure!

    Anyway, the articles linked to are the kind of things that make me wonder if the authors have just invested in a new tinfoil hat. I work in the entirely male dominated IT industry (software development to be precise), but I’m not patronised, I’m paid the same, if my (male) boss is to be believed I’m respected, I’m not treated as a doormat and I’m not paranoid that everyone’s out to get me! I also worked my arse off to get to where I am, I didn’t just rock up, do my 9-5 minimum hours and keep my head down and my mouth shut, because it just didn’t occur to me to do so. Male colleagues who have kept up that approach are still in the lower level, lower paid jobs they started in BTW. So why is my industry male dominated? Well given that at uni in our graduating class 4 out of 84 of us were female, that might suggest that many women aren’t bothering to even apply for the courses in that arena that would grant them the corresponding jobs. Now I’ve been at this for 15 years or so working within different companies with people from all over the globe, and this proportion of men to women seems to be more of a Western phenomenon, with companies in places such as India, and in the case of my current company, Mauritius, seemingly employing almost equal numbers of men and women. What’s causing the difference I wonder (genuinely, I wonder), because these are countries, in the case of India at least, where there are a number of other well publicised serious gender-based issues that women face. It seems that when it comes to jobs, we in the west are struggling to overcome the idea of a ‘man’s industry’ and a ‘woman’s industry’ when we have overcome a lot of other issues such as voting rights and legislation against discrimination. Just saying that everyone should be equal and there should be equal proportions of people doing certain things doesn’t seem to equate to the number of people choosing to do that, quilting is obviously a case in point here, as proportionately men are probably more in the minority than I was in my graduating class!

    I’m trying to work out why there is such ire and vitriol in those articles. Did the authors try and fail to get somewhere in the quilting industry? Did they work their backsides off attending events like Quilt Market, touting their wares and fail? Or are they expecting that as women this should fall in their laps because it’s a female dominated industry? As to why certain males are getting recognition, their work is good and in Luke’s case it’s different to a lot of things being produced in the quilting world. If, as a company, you’re offered the chance to work with 10 people producing similar work that everyone’s seen before and 1 that stands out and excites people, who will you choose? Good business sense will tell you to at least take a chance on the 1 to grow your business. It’s happened for women too BTW, they breath fresh life into something and it takes off, so they go to work and tout it to fabric companies or publishers or whatever and then they get other opportunities – I’m thinking of Nicole Daksiewicz and the hexies as an example here, space them out as a colourful grid without having all the EPP hand work to do, genius! She’s now working with fabric companies. Also Minki Kim, who posts on IG as Zeriano, who has been doing gorgeous stitch sketches which caught people’s attention because they were different and she’s now co-authoring a book and, yes, working with fabric companies, but they WORKED IT! I doubt Nicole found Lecien knocking on her aircraft cabin door as she basted hexies as a flight attendant, or Minki found people rushing up to her on the school run begging her to drop everything and stitch them a masterpiece, they had to go out there within the industry and say look at me, I’m a genius and people love me, you should love me too! So is it that the authors of those posts have failed to create that stand out work to get it front and centre for quilting companies and subsequently snapped up and so are incredibly bitter about it? Is this exacerbated just because a man got there instead? I’d love to see the industry stats on the women earning money from quilting versus the men…

    All that said, I honestly don’t have the time or the energy to waste on sexism from either side (or any other -isms actually), if you produce good shit I’ll follow you and like it, if you produce crap I won’t, I won’t examine your profile to see if your dangly bits are up high or down low, I won’t look to see if you’re black or white or red all over, and I won’t be jealous of others achieving more than me when I haven’t put the effort in. Hmm, clearly I did decide I needed a rant today rather than typing up a pattern I should be working on *ahem*

    • Glad you got that out of your system! 😉 It certainly was a rabbit hole! haha Such great points about Nicole and Minki (both super stars in my eyes!) What they are doing is unique, and I think that is what makes certain people shine brighter than others. Sometimes it is a penis that offers that uniqueness, but again, that fades fast!

  19. I have no problem with men wanting to quilt, quilting, or participating in a craft that is and has been dominated by women for centuries. I have no problem with penis’s either. I am married to someone who has one, I have a brother and a father. I don’t really think this is a discussion about gender, so much as gender disparity, internalized sexism and respect for our roots.
    I love the points Stephanie Boon made in her article: trivia is an inappropriate and demeaning descriptive, ‘Let me not be defined by my gender’, is another statement that irks- as so many women would like their art and quilts to be received as fine art, and are side lined by ideas of ‘craft’ and ‘women’s work’. We women ARE being defined by our gender within the fine art world, let us not dismiss this. To dismiss the fact that doors are truly opened much more widely for men than women is insulting.
    Stephanie Forsyth is calling women out for fawning over the men among us, when what we might rather do is give a leg up to our fellow female designers, entrepreneurs, quilt makers and artists. This is a form of internalized sexism and values mens contributions above that of women. And considering the fact that we are working in an industry where -we can- put our money and needs behind our favorite female designers, in this light -it is- frustrating to watch my sisters make hay out of the men.
    I don’t think it is too much to ask that the men among us invest in learning the history and context of the textile, craft and quilt world and to display that knowledge in a respectful way. I understand that being asked about gender in every interview can become tiring, but as Patrick Stewart says, “People will not listen unless you are an old, white man, so I’m an old white man and I will use that to help people who need it”. Luke, nor you Molli, is old, but you are both white men with more power, and money than many of the women who follow you. So why not use that power well? Inclusively?
    Even Luke’s choice of artists’ reflect a male braggadocio that has little or nothing to do with fiber art, textiles or quilting. As mentioned in Stephanie Boon’s article, I love Louise Bourgeois, I find her work abrasive, difficult to embrace AND it is firmly planted in the world of fiber. Damian Hirst covers skulls in diamonds, a gem of murderous proportion just to make splash, he cuts animals into parts and places them on display- doing nothing this world needs, in my opinion.
    What I don’t like about all of this is the fact that Luke is being called out quite as harshly and individually as he is. I love feminist discourse and I think the points made need to be addressed, but a broader picture could have been built using several names and particular people.

    • Hey Melanie! Such a value packed comment, thank you for your insight! I realise the root of this is more about gender disparity than just gender (e.g. being a man). That is a subtle difference that I agree, sometimes gets lost in the conversation. That being said, even as a man, nearly everyone I talk to about my quilting outside of our community stills sees it as a craft, or hobby, or trade, and very few see it as art, especially FINE ART. This belittling reception is from all genders, and I’ve never felt (repeat NEVER) that the quilts I’ve created have received more respect (outside our community) because I’m a man. It sounds like we’ve had different experiences with this.

      Conversely, I know I have had articles written about me with the “he’s a guy” angle — and that maybe provides some click bait for a headline. But, it’s also true. So I’m not sure how I should reject that truth, and instead choose to embrace it. I’ll tell you now though, I’m certainly not making any money out of quilting, and these “opportunities” amount to nothing more than words on paper. So I’d instead ask that we give a leg up to ANYONE that we think needs our support, male, female or anyone in between.

      Thanks for not calling me old! 😉 I’m 34, and have been quilting for 3.5 years, but grew up watching my grandmother quilt. In my opinion, I have done nothing but use my power as a “white man” (<--I'm so much more than that, but anyway) well and inclusively, as you describe it. To imply that I haven't tried to provide an inclusive environment for all equally is a tad hurtful. I don't know the exhaustive history of quilting, but I do know I have done nothing but champion the rights of all quilters from the very beginning of creating my blog. I have pleaded for my readers to demand equal respect, and the love of their work and most importantly themselves, more than anything else. And that's where I get most upset. This generalisation that "men" are the bad guys. (I know you didn't say this specifically, it's just tonal view point I pick up in the comments of detractors). I've lived my life to try and be the best human being I possibly can be, to love everyone equally, regardless of any differences. Yet these types of conversations still take place. P.s. Agreed, the Luke hate is bit mis-directed.

      • Stephie says:

        Hiya, I hope you’ll read my reply below. I think “these type of conversations still take place” because not everyone is ‘trying to be the best human they possibly can be, to love everyone equally, regardless of any differences.’ Sadly, there are people (men and women) that like to exploit others to their own advantage and it’s good that these conversations take place, or those being taken advantage of may never be heard at all. I agree “This generalisation that “men” are the bad guys.”, is exactly that: a generalisation, in the same way that blonde women are generalised as being ditzy, women that wear skimpy clothing are sluts, or that women can’t drive. There’s always someone somewhere that generalises anything, whether it’s gender, race, age, etc. PS. I’m not a Luke Hater – I just didn’t like what he said.

      • Molli, I hear you, please accept an apology here. I see your points. I will ponder this.

        • Hi again Molli and fellow readers. I appreciate the time, composure and discussion that is happening here. I am sorry that my comments were far reaching, and implied that you are not providing an inclusive space for equality. You obviously are, in hosting a meaningful discussion, and presenting ideas and a space to converse. I realize my comments have an element of generalization. I don’t think I have said, or even implied with my tone, that men are bad guys. What I did not elucidate or finish connecting the dots with is that perhaps Luke, and the men and our community, might dig more deeply into the history of our craft and promote artists like Louise Bourgeois, or less well known artist like Harriet Powers-there are so many artists to highlight, artists who use quilts and fiber in their work to expand the knowledge base and shine a light on the diversity of our chosen media. I cannot discredit the hard work we all do in getting our work seen, male, female and in-between.

  20. I read both blogs, posted comments, and hope the authors will consider that one person does not necessarily represent the whole. I worked hard for the opportunities I’ve gotten. Not once did I have to flash anyone.

    • I haven’t had to yet, Bill! I might be willing too though if the right opportunity presented itself! 😉 I fully understand that people’s opinions should solely represent themselves, (as does mine here), but I am glad to host a dialogue of conversation. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  21. Danny says:

    My penis and I thank you. But I do all the quilting.

  22. rebecca says:

    Wow! I clearly live in a bubble SB, you done open another big can ‘o’ worms. I read the articles and your take on them, just felt sad for everyone.
    I make stuff because it heals my heart and makes me happy whether I keep them or give them away.
    I guess the NEED to support yourself financially through something you weave a part of yourself into tilts the whole process.
    If you WANT to be noticed or financially rewarded for your efforts it will also make you more vunerable and sensitive.
    Human nature should be to support and nuture creativity and therefore each other…..that is I believe how this craft has survived for so long. Historically it’s been women, now it would great if it was everyone.
    But I live in a bubble LOLOL

    • You know how I like worms! Money always changes things, doesn’t it? I don’t intend to support myself through my craft, and applaud anyone who tries to do so (whether they succeed or not)! Let’s just all do this amazing thing together!

  23. Summer says:

    I look forward to seeing what the transgender quilting community is doing. I mean, come on, if you look at a quilt, a plate of food, a software program, can you really tell who made it? Someone talented, someone driven, someone a little bit cool, someone totally geeky, but gender, ethnicity, age, or creed – you usually can’t tell. So don’t judge the final product by who, judge it by what it is. Either you like it or you don’t. Who made it shouldn’t change your mind fundamentally, though I know we all have our favorites. And I think the whole gender thing needs to transform from burning bras to saying, “I see no difference.” You’re good at what you do or not, and it shouldn’t have a thing to do with gender or any other way that we humans like to divide ourselves unnecessarily.

    • Summer says:

      Heh, I meant to put “wah, wah” after the first sentence. It’s a joke, people.

    • I somewhat agree here. You probably can’t initially tell who made a quilt of patchwork square. However, there are some quilters (myself included) who try to imbibe a sense of their personal history in their quilt designs. That’s not always evident on the surface, but perhaps only with a provided artist statement. Joking aside, I’d LOVE to see what or how a transgender quilter adds to this community. That would be a totally unique perspective, and nothing excites me more than a fresh idea!

  24. I think this is an interesting conversation and I am enjoying seeing it unfold.

  25. Alison Hingston says:

    Molli, it was interesting when you selected as the Juki ambassador how many female hackles were raised. Surely in this day and age it is the quality of our quilting work that should be the sole criteria on whether your creation deserves selection for an exhibition, or whether it is praised for being beautiful, well made and something you want to purchase.
    And I’m with Melanie, it is an interesting conversation and one that will be around for a while.

  26. Alison Hingston says:

    Molli, it was interesting when you were selected as the Juki ambassador how many female hackles were raised. Surely in this day and age it is the quality of our quilting work that should be the sole criteria on whether your creation deserves selection for an exhibition, or whether it is praised for being beautiful, well made and something you want to purchase.
    And I’m with Melanie, it is an interesting conversation and one that will be around for a while.

  27. Stephie says:

    Hello! Big grin and a wave from over here in the UK! Yes, hands up, I wrote the article, thanks for your response here – hope your dick’s not hurting from keeping all those doors wedged open 😉

    There are a few points I’d like to clear up regarding many of the comments here and elsewhere. No-one is more surprised by the response to the article than I am – I’m completely bemused by it, but obviously it’s got people talking which is brilliant. It amuses me that no-one seems to notice that I made no comment *whatsoever* about Luke’s work and that no-one’s bothered to actually ask what I think of it, but seem to assume I must hate it -ask me and you’ll find out! My article was a DIRECT RESPONSE to Abbey Glassenberg’s podcast interview and then Luke’s blogpost, which he wrote in response to being interviewed – it had nothing to do with his work.

    In my mind his blog post is whiney and contradicts a number of things he said in the interview, which got my back up. Sorry about that, but if a woman made similar contradictory remarks or flippant, thoughtless statements, guess what…it would piss me off and I’d write about that too. Many of the commenters don’t appear to have listened to or read the ‘source material’ before spouting off about how vitriolic I am, or how I must be a failed quilter because, hey, I’m an articulate person with an opinion they can’t deal with. Get over it! Read some fine art history, some quilt history, put your brains into gear and give what he says some bloody CONTEXT ffs!!!

    Melanie Testa (above) has hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned. Luke describes himself as an artist; part of being an artist is critical thinking, debate and dialogue – my article is simply one artist calling out another. It’s what we do. Melanie is right: a broader picture could have been built, and I may have written a less polemical article if I had. I certainly don’t believe Luke should be called out differently from others who make those kinds of statements, and I certainly don’t believe that all men (or women) hold those views, and I *definitely* don’t believe men shouldn’t quilt – where the hell did anyone get that idea from?!

    Finally, I’d really like to say thanks to you and anyone who’s left a comment, here, on my blog, or on Stephanie’s blog – it’s great reading so many different opinions and really gives food for thought. Love it!

  28. Wow – if you’ve read all the comment this far, you’re really invested! It could read like an episode of Melrose Place! This was at times a really heated conversation, and I want to think everyone for expressing their opinions and keeping it pretty classy on my blog. I’ve contacted both Steph and Stephanie privately to say my peace, and I hope that all of us (you included) can agree to disagree if necessary. However, let’s do it with positivity, and respect for each other, because we all need a little more love, light, and sparkle in our lives!

  29. Lesley says:

    Catch up at the back there! The debate we British are having is whether we should be allowed to refer to our gender at all!

  30. Irene Grimes says:

    She applied the same bigoted, discriminatory, und just plain wrong theories that she is complaining about when applied to her gender, to males. Every one of us, whether more or less famous, whether more or less talented has their own place in the quilting universe (never mind that you gain much more with sugar than with vinegar). Inclusiveness and an open exchange of ideas has always promoted creativity, imagination and innovation while excluding people and hostility towards others (no matter what the criteria for that exclusiveness has achieved the exact opposite).

    • It’s so interesting that every time a woman tries to point out that that there is a clear disparity in the advantages white males have over everyone else, that suddenly we are ascribed as being “reverse sexists”. It’s the same as the people claiming the Black Lives Matter members are “reversely racists” towards whites. Every time a group that is being excluded in rights asks to be included, we are accused of being exclusive to those which we are asking for equality to.

  31. Katie says:

    Geez, when I think of thread and fabric and design and quilting, I think of thread and fabric and design and quilting. Since when did genetalia have anything to do with it? Good grief! We should all put on our big girl and boy panties and go sew! 🙂

  32. Mandy says:

    By choosing to work in a field and an art that is and always has been dominated by women without an attempt to understand the deeper stories and tensions that run through it is an example of privilege: for those in positions of privilege, they can choose to ignore that reality since it does not affect their lives. For those who are minorities, the tensions, discrimination overt or subtle, it is a fact of their daily existence. I might add that this balance of power and privilege holds true for racial inequality as well.
    As a professional in this quilting industry, as a scholar, and as a woman, I can’t ignore the traditions and history that are associated with quilting, with women’s work, and the gender issues that surround that work. I cannot ignore my own direct observations, either. It is not simple, nor is it true and honest to separate this from our discussion. We are not in a post-feminist world, just as we are not in a post-racial world.Neither are men a sudden and unexpected part of the quilting community: their work and their legacy is out there to be studied.
    I am going to be honest when I say these arguments that men are being discriminated against ring hollow to my ears. The majority of the male population of the quilting world are white males, who are categorically the top of the food chain when it comes to income, job advancement, pretty much any metric that statisticians, economists, and historians can track. This is fact, and there are hundreds if not thousands of studies that support this.
    In the world outside of quilting, they are top of the food chain, and in the quilting world are presenting themselves as minorities, yet, using that minority status in a way that makes them a novelty and more marketable, in ways that actual minority populations cannot do; they are expecting and demanding the privileges which they have enjoyed their whole lives, while ignoring or passing over as negligible the struggles women have faced for equality for centuries.
    I have avoided writing my thoughts in public for several reasons, all related to my gender: concern that I, too, will be subjected to reductionist arguments having watched the responses to Emma Watson’s eulogies for Alan Rickman where her honoring him as a feminist resulted in vitriolic responses and name calling; having seen the study that just came out about women’s wages and that, after adjustment for all economic factors such as taking off time for family care that the wage gap still cannot be accounted for by anything other than discrimination; having observed in the last few years that, for an industry dominated by women, relatively few positions of authority in many of the companies are actively held by women; knowing that saying something exposes me to ridicule, contempt and cries of bigotry and discrimination from both men and women who want to seem above it all. Most recently, a female attorney in Texas was told to stop raising her voice because it was not suitable to a woman to raise her voice to a man. Why this made the news? For the first time in memory, the judge found the male attorney in contempt. In terms of this conversation, I wonder at the responses to Stephie: had she been a man expressing these opinions, or had she expressed them with less emotion, would she be as beaten on as she has been?
    We are all creatures of our culture and upbringing, Nature and Nurture. As individuals, we can examine the effects these have upon us and seek to be … otherwise. The greatest most difficult journey is to attempt to learn and understand what it would be like to be a person other than ourselves, to try and tease out whether our Right is Right for more than just ourselves, or our interests. It is a tricky thing to do, especially when in a position of privilege, because the natural consequence is that we must begin to take ownership of our actions. I say this as I struggle with my own culture and heritage as a white woman in the United States, watching current events unfold. Am I going to say stupid shit? Yes, because it can be hard to catch everything all the time and there are nooks and crannies that still need to be explored, but I will do my damndest to take a good hard look at my self and not make that mistake again when and if it happens. I bring this up because it is relevant here to this conversation. Work in progress.

    • Mandy – Thank you for providing such an eloquent response featuring your thoughts, struggles and experiences with this topic. You’ve provided some wonderful avenues for us all to reflect upon. I can only speak for myself (as I hate to try and speak for other men, even when pushed to do so), but I have not experienced any struggles in the quilting world specific to my gender. Even my LQS was welcoming the very first day I stepped into it! Despite that, I have heard of many stories of men who quilt being discriminated against, asked to leave guilds because women were uncomfortable with them, etc… YET, I do agree that this pales in comparison to the monolithic type of discrimination that some women face around the world.

      I must object to this comment though, “…they are expecting and demanding the privileges which they have enjoyed their whole lives…” First of all, once again, a generalisation of men who quilt that shouldn’t occur. Secondly, I think this comment is slightly askew. If men are being asked to be treated without discrimination (of any type) which has been afforded them by said privilege in other arenas, then I can only applaud that. No one should be discriminated against, and anyone that refuses to accept it for whatever reason is doing the right thing.

      On the flip side, “…while ignoring or passing over as negligible the struggles women have faced for equality for centuries…” is a valid point. But I don’t think it is of malicious or even purposeful intent in the quilting world, and additionally, I’m not sure that the men doing this would know how not to do it, having not lived in the historical context of a woman? It takes a lot of self-reflection (as you rightly exude in your last paragraph!) to be aware of the situations of others. Sympathy is an easy emotion, but Empathy is the hard one.

      • Melly Testa says:

        Molli, shining a light on male priveledge in this way is uncomfortable, but I would say, rather than box it up and simply say it shouldn’t occur, why not acknowledge it happens and explore ways to eliminate it? We could explore ways that women are conditioned to be passive, while men are taught to be assertive, and reflect upon how that might be perceived within our community and unpack how that impacts the issues we are discussing. Or we could acknowledge that rather than acknowledge female artists, their contribution to our community, Luke turned to male artists outside our community (Alexander McQueen being the exception as he did work with cloth). And this, could be in part, because female contribution is valued less than male and that these structures are so ingrained in us that we do not realize it is happening. Believe me when I say, I too think these issues should be a part of our past. But they are not. Not yet. It is because of conversations and hard work like this- work we are participating in here on this blog and comments, as well as on the other blogs mentioned, so that we can move and shift the meanings and framework of the the discussion. I also want to acknowledge that I feel honored to be having this conversation, with you, and your followers, many of whom are male, and that it has been so respectful and open. I love that Paul, below, spoke up about male quilters during the civil what. The more comparisons and connections we can make in this realm will help unpack the conversation and create points of connection, which is what it needed.

    • Stephie says:

      Mandy, thank you. I fully understand what it’s like to put your head above the parapet and make yourself vulnerable and open to the thoughtless and inevitable name calling (intelligent criticism is something else altogether): it’s not an easy decision to make. You’ve truly expressed, calmly and thoughtfully, so many points that underly the ‘essay’ on my blog. I referenced Luke Haynes because he was the subject of the podcast I listened to, and he wrote the post on his blog that I read. He made contradictory statements that I felt needed calling out. By doing this many people seem to believe that I have it ‘in for Luke Haynes’ per se. This is not the case. What he said seems to me to be indicative of a pervasive attitude in society, and I finally got sick of hearing it – he just happened to be in the firing line. Perhaps my article would have been fairer if I’d made that more clear, but then I really didn’t expect the article to generate this much (if any) discussion at all. What I expected was to be shot down in flames, called the inevitable names and ignored (as is usually the case when a woman mentions gender and privilege). I think I was naive in expecting commenters to both listen to the podcast and read Luke’s following blog post before leaving their thoughts – clearly lots of people haven’t engaged with either. I’m always banging on about ‘context’ and these sources give context to my writing. If a commentator’s not willing to engage with the entire argument, for whatever reason, fine, but making uninformed judgements about it helps no-one. I’m really glad that there are both some women and men engaged in this discussion that are at least giving the argument considered thought, whatever conclusions they come to – that’s what debate is about: informed, effective persuasion.

      Stephanie F spoke about pay disparity in her post and that for men there’s an implicit assumption that of course there should be equal pay. In an email to her I said, with tongue in cheek, that some solidarity might make it more believable: how many men do you know of that have said “pay me what you’re paying her”! Hmmm, I’ve been thinking about that a lot since…

  33. It does concern me that Luke did not answer the question of what quilter her admired. There is such a lush array of people, artists and crafters alike, to pluck from that branch, I would love to know his response to that question. For me, Helen Frankenthaler, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith-even though that last name is a stretch, fiber speaking. They are all big names, artist names, female artists rooted in the fiber, craft, quilt, fiber and cloth as a ‘medium’. In current times, I love Robin Schwalb, Erin Wilson, Kristine Mayes, Jane Dunnewold, Valerie Goodwin, and so many more. It was a was a missed opportunity. Nothing that can’t be remedied.

  34. Paul says:

    no one seems to mention all the quilts men made during the civil war. One family did a trunk show at our local guild with their family’s quilts, going back pre civil war. One quilt was made by a male relative in the civil war as a medic. He cut a piece of shirt tail off every soldier he buried, and he made a quilt with the fabrics. There were other men in the family who made quilts late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Don’t think anyone complained about soldiers sewing.

    • Serena @ Sewgiving says:

      I did not know that … what a beautiful thing for the medic to do!

    • Melly Testa says:

      Please, link to and tell the stories of male quilters in history and today. I would love to know more and incorporate that knowledge into what I know of our great tradition.

      • One of my favorite historical male quilters was Albert Small. He was born in England in 1885 and came to the United States in 1903. In 1907 he married Eva Clements, who was also from England. The couple lived in Ottawa, Illinois. Mr. Small operated heavy machinery and handled explosives in the sand pits of the Ottawa Silica Sand Company. He made the most remarkable quilts with tiny hexagons the size of a pencil eraser. Each quilt had an astonishing number of pieces. I believe his record was 123,203 hexagons in a quilt that was 85 inches by 96 inches. Worth the google search!

        • Mandy says:

          The Shelburne Museum had a whole show in 2012 about men and quilt making from the Civil War to the present:
          http://worldquilts.quiltstudy.org/americanstory/identity/malequiltmakers

          • That’s the one!

            There are so many nuances to the role of men in American quiltmaking history. They may not have always been the ones making the quilts, but they contributed in certain ways.

            I’m digging to find the reference that talked about men marking wholecloth quilts in the 18th century. Apparently it was a trade, men who drew quilting designs on the wholecloth quilts before they were quilted. If I can find it, I’ll let you all know.

            There is also wonderful research by Suzanne Swenson about what happened with cotton in the Civil War. According to Swenson’s research, how the North controlled the cotton was how the war was won. In a lot of ways, that war was fought over cotton.

            Fabric was one of the most precious commodities in America since there were no mills when colonists arrived. The taxes on fabrics coming from England were just as much the reason for the Revolutionary War as the tea, probably more so.

            Men were traditionally involved with weaving, by the way, and that’s pretty well documented. They may have also shorn the wool, or dyed it, or harvested flax and indigo. The daily tasks of men and women were somewhat divided, but they worked in concert with the same objectives. It was the only way to survive. They lived under the same roofs together, slept under the quilts together. The quilts were important to everyone.

    • I say this with as much niceness as I can convey via text (we all know that tone doesn’t translate well on text). I find it very interesting that your response to an article about women wanting men to not be given press and attention more readily because they are men, is that we should look more at what the men have done. The discussion isn’t on whether men have and did make quilts, it’s about the fact that the men garner more press attention because they are just that, men. You have tried to redirect a conversation about the disparity of women not being equal, into a focus on men making thing. No one mentioned all those quilts men made, because the conversation isn’t about that. :/

      • I believe Paul was just posting this because some people who are engaged in this conversation might find that an interesting aside. I definitely do! Plus, since he witnessed the trunk show, this is the experience he can bring to the conversation. I don’t know a lot about the history of quilt making, (men or women) so this tidbit of information is engaging. The same way if you were to post a link to an article about a woman who changed the world with her quilts, etc. would be engaging for me. ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT!!!!!

  35. Serena @ Sewgiving says:

    The “us” and “them” mentality never seems to go away does it? You would think that a common love for quilting would be enough to cut through all that bullsh*t. Good on you for writing this post.

  36. I love that Melly’s asking questions about history. That’s part of what’s missing here, but also there’s a disconnect between the community of women quilters and the men. The guys sometimes sit at the same cafeteria table, so to speak, communicating amongst ourselves in men’s forums on Facebook. So, other people don’t see what we are really like. We’re kind of guilty of not letting the ladies get to know us well enough. To know us is to love us.

  37. I wanna love more of us.

  38. Enn Geecee says:

    I’m not even a quilter but I love creating art and I own one of Molli’s pieces. I also have another quilt made by a dear female friend who is a passionate friend. I hope you guys don’t mind me intruding. I enjoy this blog and I find this conversation fascinating.

    I’m a staunch feminist so I understand what the Stephanies are saying. In fact I agree with the premise of their argument. I don’t claim to be an expert in the history of quilting, but from my understanding it really was a culture and social network for a community for generations of women, particularly in the USA and Europe.

    In this way, I can see the inherent historical importance of quilting not just as an art form, but as a form of documentation of the history of women, their lives, traditions and to give us insight into the daily life of generations past.

    For this reason alone, and as an outsider with no real knowledge of the movement, I can see why it would seem that when men begin to participate in an art form that holds such cultural and historical significance for women that the inherent privilege they bring with them might play a role in the success they enjoy.

    However, I think to take that perspective automatically is probably to undermine what we as feminists often fight against in our endeavours to be heard ourselves. Yes: men will never know what it is like to live without their privilege.

    (Even if they are aware of their privilege and actively go out of their way to avoid abusing it (I know Molli is amazing for eg and a true feminist whose integrity is unquestionable), our society is designed to enable it. So even if quilters who are men don’t seek attention because they are men, there will always be a section of that society who is happy to exploit their talent to maintain the status quo because of that privilege.)

    But I digress. My point is that as feminists, we can’t let that part of society do that to us. And when I say ‘us as feminists’, I’m not just talking about ‘us as women’ or ‘us as quilters’. I’m talking about everyone who identifies as a feminist. So that includes men too.

    If many years ago women began quilting to socialize, communicate and to pass on their story, then I say that tradition today must include men. Our dialogue as feminists includes everyone, and especially men who identify as feminists.

    I am raising my little boy as a feminist. If he wants to take up quilting to express his story and his art; if that is the way his tale gets told so that generations from now people will know what he had to say then I will indeed encourage him to do so. If he wants to be a ballet dancer or a tow-truck driver to tell his story, then that’s fine too.

    But I would never ask him not to be involved in something, or succeed in something because his sex excluded him from its historical participation.

    • Mandy says:

      Thanks for your perspective. Men have always been a part of quilting history, and I would question that they were deliberately excluded historically, although, perhaps, it was more often self-selecting, with them choosing to be in their own groups (sound familiar?) away from the women (since it was women’s work). I am surprised that the majority of the men don’t know it themselves, and it makes their arguments ring a little hollow that they don’t, or haven’t taken the time to look into either their own gendered history, and to understand women’s gendered history even less. I feel pretty confident that many women know about male quilters historically, since it comes up on occasion (like with the auctions of the quilt made by soldiers used to cover the commander of the Light Brigade, happening this week) and now with the ease of information (look up “historical male quilters” and quite a few options are there), it’s easy to find out. The role of men, while less prevalent, has never been stamped out or squashed, nor do I think that’s what’s happening now.

      And as a general comment, what is frustrating to me, is that the things that Stephanies said were totally valid, but they were treated piss poorly, in the way women usually are when they bring up the disparities of privileged and not. And while Molli may be a staunch advocate in person, I have to be very honest when I say that after reading these comments, I am deeply discouraged. I don’t think anyone came to a better understanding of the issues, whether about privilege or women’s ineqaulity. What is worse, to me, is that if I were to meet some of these people in person, I would be wondering about their integrity, which, to me, means that the public face and private face are the same. Would some of the commenters lash out and be hurtful in person the way they have online? What if I contradict that person in public? In private? What happens if their online persona is the way they are in reality? We’ve all seen the prevalence of online threats of violence against women, and how often that next, physical step is taken. Do I take that chance? Should I be walking with my keys in my hand after the next big industry event, just in case I say the wrong thing and am not nice enough? Maybe I shouldn’t comment. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything. Maybe I should keep my head down so they don’t notice me, and make me the next target. Maybe I’ll just email the Stephanies instead and tell them I support them, but don’t want to speak up because of the abuse that will follow, because I’ve seen what got dished out at them. I am discouraged the guys who wrote that don’t see the problem with it. Maybe I shouldn’t post this comment.

      Who am I kidding. I walk with my keys in my hand at night anyway.

      • Enn Geecee says:

        I hear you Mandy. I read Stephanie’s blog and I happen to not only agree with a lot of what she says, but also how she says it.

        I commented on her blog too, and I believe the #notallmen brigade and the ones who commented so abusively by taking a broad and important issue and trivializing it by personalizing and also decontextualising it have done nothing but highlight their own inadequacies.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that as feminists we shouldn’t be pointing out examples of make quilters as such and saying that is an example of being inclusive. I think it’s a bigger issue than that. I’m advocating that all culturally and historically significant examples of ‘women’s story’ and discourse should be made as accessible as possible to everyone in order that we don’t become reductionist.

        I don’t want to give anyone an excuse create an environment by ‘default’ that excludes women from a dialogue which we began because we feel ownership of it.

        If we see our discourse as important to feminism, we must be prepared to open the dialogue. However, it’s up to MEN to realise that they cannot rely on their privilege to dominate that discourse. And if they slip up, then definitely, women should be able to hold them to account.

  39. Enn Geecee says:

    *my dear female friend is a passionate QUILTER.

    FFS.

    I’m typing on my iPhone and also I’m a goddamned idiot.

    There’s a stack of other editing I could do, but meh. You get the point. And it’s Sunday evening. Pass me a Cosmo.

  40. Melly Testa says:

    Molli, and some of the men who have posted here and on Stephanie Forsyth’s blog, can you please take a moment and introspect? Some of you have written scathing comments on Stephanie’s blog, and while understanding this is a hot button issue for you, I implore you to find common ground and to discuss our differences with aplomb. Many of you have discussed the creation of men only groups in order to create the community you feel you need, segregating yourself, in effect, from the larger community, and you are calling foul when a woman does the same? I get that Stephanie’s article came from a frustrated and angry place, but rather than get caught up in that emotion, lets dissect the foundation of what is being said and how we might address the disparities that created it. I have commented there as well as here. I am going to address this portion here on your blog, Molli: as a woman, I would not, do not feel comfortable calling attention to my vagina in the way that you have done with the meme at the beginning of this post. The reason for this is that, I need to protect my person, my body, from the sort of attention this might bring to me. Online, this attention might express itself as flaming me in comments, but it could also get much worse. I don’t want to discuss what might happen in person, I think you get the idea. The meme alone is an example of male privilege, because I cannot, will not be able to do similar to make my point. So, can we please tone down the negativity and comment gracefully, even if we disagree with the presentations?

    • Frank says:

      Comedians like Amy Schumer, Bridget Everett, etc reference their vaginas often, and take back the power for their own bodies and cast off the shackles of shame pushed in them for generations. Artists like Georgia O’Keefe, and Milo Moire create art that celebrate women’s genitalia. Choosing how someone references their own body is a statement in controlling their own body, not a condemnation or threat of someone else’s. To try and curtail his speech, is to inflict the kind of control and subjugation others are striving to escape. We are each responsible for our own comfort. So, in calling for calm and rational discussion, there’s mine. Enjoy it, or don’t. It’s mine, it’s real, and if it only matters to me, it’s still okay. That’s what I’ve learned from this whole thing.

  41. Frank, what I hear you saying, is, do not subjugate our speech or references to bodies, and I don’t care that you feel the need to, because look, famous women are talking vaginas, why not follow suit? I appreciate many of the women you reference here and I agree they help substantiate your argument, but famous people are not everyday people. They can push boundaries because of their position. We all benefit from this. But here we are, average everyday people. You say, “To try and curtail his speech, is to inflict the kind of control and subjugation others are striving to escape.”, I would remind you, not everyone is being afforded the escape you speak of. Certainly not Stephanie, who has receive quite a bit of your particular contempt. I am advocating that we find connection and that we discuss the deeper meaning of the priviledges we are discussing. It is uncomfortable work, good work, much needed work. Thanks for commenting, I pray you are able to soften and dig deeper.

    • Frank says:

      The contempt you speak of is regarding Stephanie’s specific belittling of men, in order to get her portray her view that women are devalued. It was unnecessary. Then, Ms. Boon, and her condescending way of minimizing a very real problem, took my words and completely changed them to suit her narrative, in the same breath as accusing others of doing the same thing. You can’t build a house by burning down your neighbor’s. And until that realization happens, everyone has to work twice as hard. I’ve never disagreed about the inequality, in fact I have stated it exists repeatedly. In the meantime, I’ve been slapped in the face because I mentioned how it was presented in such an ugly and insulting way, and now it’s appearing that the support I give isn’t good enough, though it is more than most, so everyone is saying what? You don’t want my help? I’m not the enemy, but as it happens in situations like these, when you chop down your support, the bridge collapses. Why aren’t men more vocal about these issues? Because they’re met with “boo hoo” when they dare bring up their struggles, because it’s a pissing contest as to who has it worse. I’m sorry if you don’t see it that way. There’s room to give a fuck on both sides. But if you can’t, why should anyone? Being angry about my own struggles doesn’t negate yours. And I never said it did. I only asked that we all show each other the same courtesy.

      • https://www.vitalsmarts.com/press/2015/08/new-study-women-judged-more-harshly-when-speaking-up-assertively/
        “Speaking up in forceful, assertive ways is especially risky for women,” said Grenny, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations. “An emotion-inequality effect punishes women more than men. Women are burdened with the assumption that they will conform to cultural stereotypes that typecast women as caring and nurturing. Speaking forcefully violates these cultural norms, and women are judged more harshly than men for the same degree of assertiveness.”

        • Frank says:

          Speaking forcefully does not mean being condescending. Two different things.

          • Did you even read the article? That’s exactly what it was saying. That often when people hear/read a woman’s passionately and assertively are taken as being condescending and aggressive. Men are sometimes called out on their aggressiveness, but they are not attacked and punished as often or to the degree that women are. Case in point: the public’s reaction to Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence when they have spoken out on feminism issues, where the reactions range from threatening they should be raped for what they’ve said to that they are just using it to gain more noteriety. Where as men like Patrick Stewart can write about feminism and receive praise for it. No one threatens to rape, kill or call him selfish for wishing for women’s equal rights. But as you said on my blog, you’re done. I’m also done trying to have this conversation with you. I am not an evil person, and I hope you’re not either. I am simply frustrated that I’m expected to essentially ask nicely, play nice and continue to be patient waiting for white men to decide I can be afforded equal rights with them. So, perhaps someday you can consider what living an entire lifetime knowing that you’re not equal and will be slammed for demanding to be equal, yes aggressively. I stated before I don’t agree with the expectations put on men either (which honestly is directly related, because what is it saying when a man who shows emotion is called a “pussy”, or a “sissy” or a “girl” – the fact that women aren’t equal also means that men who don’t fit the masculine male model are deemed “less than” because women are deemed less than.)

  42. I am not belittling your words, in fact, by speaking with you and trying to present a different view, I am doing just what is necessary to find resolution between differing people. What I am asking you to do is put the contempt aside and to deal with the problems that have created it.

    • Frank says:

      I do a lot to correct inequality. I support women in business and pay the same to everyone. And I’m outspoken in that support. This doesn’t mean I will accept condescension. Not from anyone. Not that anyone listens to anything I say, apparently, but when you insult people, they get mad and stop listening to you. So I’m happy to put the contempt aside, but its a two way street. “Boo hoo” was a comtemptuous statement. Fire a shot at me, but don’t think I won’t shoot back. That’s how it works.

  43. Crystal says:

    It’s taken me a while to get my thoughts in order. Today, I will tackle this part of the discussion.

    This is not just a quilting industry problem. This is a phenomenon known as the ‘glass escalator’. You can see this when men join women dominated fields, such as nursing, teaching and the industry in question, quilting. The analogy of the glass escalator is that you see men riding right past women (taking the stairs) and going straight to the top.

    Men are offered more opportunities than women, and even though women have worked just as hard, they are still not being offered the same chances as men are in some circumstances. The opening of doors with ones penis if you will. This results in men making up a higher percentage of the more senior and leadership positions, which in turn earn more money.

    What we see in the female dominated industries, is that women make up a larger percentage of the ‘worker bees’ and men have a higher percentage of the ‘top jobs’. Men are able to take advantage of these gender situations/opportunities/open doors and reach higher levels in female-dominated work. Here we are left in a situation where men are at the top, again.

    Interestingly, even though men tend to do much better in female dominated careers, they rarely choose them because of society’s negative view of them. Men can shy away from choosing a nursing/teaching/quilting career as it may affect their perceived masculinity. This, definitely needs to stop too, OK everybody?

    So women are speaking up about it. And as Emma Watson said in her HeForShe speech, ‘I am reaching out to you because we need your help. We want to end gender inequality, and to do this, we need everyone involved.’

  44. Christina says:

    Bravo!!!

    When I found your blog and looked at your many quilts I found it so refreshing!

    Your style is so crisp and precise. I don’t know quite how to explain it but I love your quilts!!! The designs and choice of colors are amazing. Your quiltsare so very different than anything I’ve seen. It made me wonder what your background was ( I was guessing architecture, engineering or something along those lines) but I never thought, *gasp* he’s a man.

    I’m hoping you’ll have a pattern line sometime soon.
    Christina

  45. Enn Geecee says:

    Molli, you know I adore you. But the other men who have attacked Stephanie for her ideas (and I’ve got to be honest, they are not without merit) and stating them assertively are unfuckingbelievable.

    All they do is highlight the problem of male privilege in our society and undermine everything you are attempting to do that is right and good for men in your community.

    Some seriously over entitled bastards there who speak to women as though we are some kind of second rate species who need their assistance in how to properly communicate, and are idiots.

    Patronising and sexist.

    • Agreed. Do know that the loudest voices that are heard do not always represent the majority; they’re just the loudest. Also, there are some very specific people that left extremely malicious and misogynist comments, that have been condemned around blogland by both men and women. I’ve also called upon our Men Who Quilt Facebook group to respond appropriately with constructive discourse rather than name calling, hate filled speech. We don’t all have to agree with each other (we shouldn’t!), but we can still respect each other for those differences.

  46. Tina Limpert says:

    Feminist? Perhaps you need to do
    some more reading or soul searching. Male privilege is systemic and institutional. It does not come from having a particular set of genitals. Reducing privilege to this perspective tells me that you don’t get how doors are open and stay open to people who possess privilege.

    • Frank says:

      Please direct me to the reading I need to do to find out where male privilege is extended to those who do not have a particular set of genitals.
      There is a huge difference between empathy and sympathy. There is no way for men to know for a fact, exactly what it’s like to be a woman. We can sympathize with the feelings created, but, like childbirth, we will never just “get it”. Not ever. Fact of life, sorry ’bout it.
      Many men see the inequality and do everything they can to not be the cause of it, but this doesn’t happen across the board and never will. Utopian idealism is a great goal, but we can only control our own actions.
      Straight people don’t understand their privilege when it comes to the struggles of gay people. White people don’t understand their privilege when it comes to people of color. Nobody really truly ever walks in the shoes of another, because the nature of human experience is first hand.
      When I offer to help someone who is angry about male privilege, I am admonished for offering a “handout” or because the angry party doesn’t want to count on a man for something. So I don’t offer anymore. I just life my life the way I think is most important and do the right thing, according to my values, and that’s really all I can do.
      If women would like something more specific, I’m afraid they’ll just have to tell me what they want exactly, because, as a man, I’m not programmed to understand the inner workings of the female mind (as many women have explained to me, and criticized me for) and it is quite impossible for me to resonate with their spirit to fully comprehend the breadth of their experience, as it isn’t my first hand experience. I only know of my own struggles (and they are great, even if only to me, because I can only truly understand my own struggles). No amount of reading or study can put me in a woman’s shoes. I can only sympathize and do what I can to make changes in how I treat people…all people. Comparing genitals to gender is a simplification, and hey, I can’t speak for Molli, but men are pretty simple beings. I can apologize for that, or explain viewpoint, or argue, or whatever, but nothing I say will give you the result your seeking. You will just have to tell us what you want, exactly, and keep insisting and demanding until you get it. But telling us to understand how you feel, for example (and yes, I know you didn’t specifically say that, so let’s not argue about yet another stupid thing a man has said), isn’t working.

    • Tina – First of all thank you for taking the time to add to the dialogue, and for the advice on my own journey in life. I’ve assumed that your comment was directed at me, and not Frank. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Feminism as, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” I have always believed this, which is why I have always described myself as a Feminist. In spite of that, I do realise I have privilege, and I do my absolute best not to take advantage of it.

      • Tina Limpert says:

        Indeed, I was responding to the contents of your post. Still, any dialogue where folks are thoughtfully and seriously engaged in fighting sexism and sexist oppression is a win for everyone involved b/c it demands that participants better articulate their position and recognize their privilege(s). That goes for me, too.
        I’m whole heartily supportive of men engaging in craft or quilting as long as they understand the historical, social, economic, and political contexts of the making. Happy stitching. -tina

        • Brenda says:

          Tina, do you truly believe that female quilters all “understand the historical, social, economic, and political contexts of the making” and that it is really a requirement to engage in the craft? I think that would rule out an extraordinarily large percentage of current quilters. People obtain Ph.D.s in quilt history and they don’t claim to understand all. Why else does research into quilting and quilt history continue? Equally, not all artists study art history. But that doesn’t make them lesser artists. They may reinvent the wheel if they don’t understand the history of something, but it isn’t necessary. It may, however, be desirable.

          • Tina Limpert says:

            The whole, “my penis may have opened the door” thread suggested uninterrogated privilege. So yes, I think we can speak with more authority if we understand a bit about context. But I don’t think you need to understand this to make a quilt.
            That would be silly.

  47. (also posted in the comments over at Sam’s blog)

    Regarding privilege, I asked a Buddhist friend, who said,

    “There are many forms of privilege, present in the broad spectrum of individuals. We only see it in others, never ourselves. If we have time to sew, we have time to sew.”

  48. I am in the group that didn’t realize Molli was a man. And when I did, I was like, oh, yeah, okay. I started following for the Sunday Stash. And stayed because I really enjoy his style of writing, thinking and quilting. Plus, We Are Sew Worth It really resonates with me. This isn’t just “my little hobby”. My CPA tried to tell me a hobby cannot be a business. WHAT?!? I educated him. Nicely.
    Luke Haynes was not even on my radar screen until all this conversation started. His quilts are okay to me. Not something that I personally aspire to. But certainly art. And if he gets a lot of recognition and money for them, good for him.
    Now, I am going to throw in the Gee Bend quilters. Because I know their quilts sell for tens of thousands of dollars, too. They are also art. And I say good for them, too.
    As Bill Volckening quoted in his latest post, “There are many forms of privilege, present in the broad spectrum of individuals…” Exactly. I have time to sew. Maybe too much time, because I am actually using it to respond on here. And any privileges that I have, I have used. Selfishly and altruistically with all shades in between.

  49. Angie says:

    Sally Ride. Was she a better astronaut? Or did she get her notoriety because she was a woman in a male dominated field (maybe because she perished much too soon). Madeline Albright. Was she a better Secretary of State? Did she get more press because she was the first female to hold the office? And more criticism because of it. Amelia Erhart and Harriet Quimby. Were they better pilots than their male contemporaries? Or did they just do something that broke gender stereotypes? Sandra Day O’Connor. Better judge? Or the first woman to hold a seat on the Supreme Court? Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. Sacajawea. Marie Curie. Dorothea Lange. Georgia O’Keefe. Billie Holiday. Anais Nin. Janis Joplin. Malala Yousafzai. The list goes on and on for women who broke the stereotype and got notoriety for doing so and some of that fame was on the coattails of being women. If they had a penis would they have stood out in their fields? Maybe.
    NAACP. Fellowship of Christian Athletes. National Council of Jewish Women. Veteran Feminists of America. American Association for Women Radiologist. Christian Women In Media Association. Check out MeetUp for your area, are there women’s only groups? I’m not saying these groups are wrong. But they exist for women. Every religion. Every field of study. Every vocation. Is this any different than a group of men wanting to have a place of their own to talk about quilts? Isn’t that some very wrong double standard?
    I identify as a feminist. But I fail to see the problem here. Some man got attention for being a quilter. Just because he’s a man. So what? There are plenty of famous (if one can truly call quilters famous) women quilters. Most famous quilters are women. I grew up watching Sewing with Nancy not Sewing with Andy. 99% of the quilting bloggers I follow are women. If a group of men want to band together to express their craft and they get some publicity because they are men. More power to them. It’s good marketing. And like many people have stated, they wouldn’t have gotten the press if they weren’t good at what they’re doing. Just like the women in my first paragraph. To use Molli’s analogy.. their vagina got them in the door.. but it was their perseverance that kept it wedged open.. ok maybe that doesn’t really work with a vagina. Maybe their 5 inch Jimmy Choo’s? Or is that too sexist to say?
    I’m not saying there aren’t problems in our society. We are a patriarchal society and have been since the dawn of time. There are still fights to be fought with equal pay and advancement. But is it really one man who made a few flippant comments on a podcast of all things something that should rip a hole in the quilting community? I quilt because I love it. I don’t want to make money at it because then I’d have to cater to my customer and not my own. That’s just me. But if I wanted to make a business of quilting one only has to look to the phenomenon that is Jenny Doan to keep the faith as women. There’s room for all of us. No matter what does or doesn’t hang between our legs.

  50. IndieQuilter says:

    If you spent even a quarter of the time you spend on leaving ridiculous comments such as these, you’d likely have a much better body of work. I’ve yet to respond to you, because you can’t argue with crazy and you can’t save the stupid from themselves. Calling someone anti-male makes it as true as if I were to call you a reasonable person. #donefeedingthetroll

  51. Lisa H says:

    I can’t believe that people waste precious quilting/craft time carrying on over the gender of other quilter’s and whether or not more interest or praise, or anything really, is given because of a person’s gender.
    Wake the fuck up people! Who truly gives a shit?! I’m female. I sew. I quilt. I love like minded people. I don’t care what gender a person is. Only I can make myself feel less worthy than another person, male or female.
    My husband and I are raising 1 daughter and 2
    sons with the knowledge that they are all equal and that gender is irrelevant other than it defines your reproductive abilities.
    Seriously, I’m living in Australia in 2016 and still having people (dare I say women?) carrying on about such rubbish as men getting it easier because they have a penis. Look around people. What I’ve seen over the past 20years or so is more women in our society showing sexism towards men than men to to women. Perhaps some people near to soften their roar and start treating the men in our lives, society, chosen profession and/or craft pursuits with Th equally and dignity they have demanded and won for themselves.
    I love men. I love dick. I don’t love people – men or women – acting like dicks.

    • IndieQuilter says:

      I’d love some references of when men, white men in particular fought for their equality and dignity? When did white guys have to vote for equal pay, or equal opportunity just to get jobs? As for questioning my using my time to write the article, should I question your taking the time to respond to it?

    • T. Limpert says:

      Lisa H. Are you a member of a neo-masculine organization and pretending to be a woman?

    • I love men and dick too! But I also like thinking and discussing about the cultural and theoretical impacts of gender on my art. Not everyone does, and those that do, don’t do it all the time. In this case, I’ve now wondered if there is a cultural difference between AU / US and gender politics. This is how my brain works, haha! You’re totally validated in your views though, as is everyone else — and we can all still do tequila shots on a Tuesday night together! 😉

  52. Lisa H says:

    Are you serious T. Limpert? I am female and have been since birth and no, I’m not one of those very masculine women, nor am I a frilly, girly girl. As I wrote above, I’m married – to a man – and are raising three children; children I gave birth to out of my vagina.
    I work in a male dominated profession where I have been told, to my face, on many occasions that women have no place working there. Rather than letting it upset or anger me, I have looked these men in the eye and told them that although I don’t agree with their opinion, I respect their right to have it, and that I’m not leaving, so they need to find a way to deal with it as it’s their hang up. I don’t go around carrying on about it, I just do my job, just like the men who love to quilt, quilt.
    If you can’t accept that a woman can feel the way I do unless they are a man pretending to be a woman, then you may want to consider what you believe to be equality.

    • So I think this is a great example of how people approach the topics of feminism, gender, privilege, and equality (as well as how they intertwine) differently. We all bring our own life experiences that will shape how we feel and deal with these topics. Let’s remember to show compassion and understanding for each other. We are all on the same side, we just choose to fight the battle (and perhaps identify the most important battles) with different tactics and methods. The most exciting thing here is that these challenges are being faced head on in various ways, and that chipping away at all angles will surely help bring the multitude of walls down quicker!

  53. T. Limpert says:

    Lisa H. Of course I know women can be patriarchal. You’re a perfect example of a women who has naturalized patriarchy. The neo-masculine movement has been very vocal this week so I wanted to double check that you aren’t one of their trolls. Cis or trans women and men who ignore sexism, like the sexism you face in your workplace, are conceding to patriarchy, giving it permission to grow and thrive. There is more at stake when certain women like indigenous women or women of color or transwomen or women with other intersectional identities speak up against sexism but that doesn’t stop them. You’re free to perpetuate the tired old stereotype of feminism as angry blah blah blahs but I prefer to see speaking out against sexism and patriarchy as a “natural” feature of a just world.

    • So I think this is a great example of how people approach the topics of feminism, gender, privilege, and equality (as well as how they intertwine) differently. We all bring our own life experiences that will shape how we feel and deal with these topics. Let’s remember to show compassion and understanding for each other. We are all on the same side, we just choose to fight the battle (and perhaps identify the most important battles) with different tactics and methods. The most exciting thing here is that these challenges are being faced head on in various ways, and that chipping away at all angles will surely help bring the multitude of walls down quicker!

  54. One of the most illuminating thoughts I heard recently connected the dots between the increase in men making quilts and the AIDS Memorial Quilt. As it turns out, a lot of men started quilting to make panels for friends and relatives who died. That’s a very different reason than pretty much everything everyone talked about here, and something to consider. I’d never thought to ask, but have since learned several friends made panels. Thinking about it shed a lot of light on how emotionally invested we are in quiltmaking. That’s not a bad thing.

    • T. Limpert says:

      This connection to entry into quilting makes sense–historical context matters– as many have argued here. It also addresses constructs of masculinity and femininity. “Men” in quilting is never simply good nor bad because identity is constructed throughly relations of power. For example individuals who identify as men don’t have equal standing in a system of domination and oppression that puts ideological and social chains on identity. An analysis and critique of gender isn’t simply about opinions as was suggested in an earlier post. Sharing opinions is one thing but letting sexism go uninterrogated is a sure way to maintain the status quo.

  55. The idea of men learning to quilt to make panels for friends and family lost to a devastating disease doesn’t really fit the narrative about equality. Learning what drove so many men to take up quilting, and seeing how that differs from what people said here, turns this whole discussion upside down.

  56. Jeanette says:

    Luv yah Molli! 🙂
    As a feminist who believes in ability being the qualifying factor for any position versus gender this conversation makes me sad while I appreciate the tongue in cheek frankness. Women are now soldiers, firemen, police..etc….what is the big deal about men being quilters! Quilting is fun, relaxing, expressive and sometimes inspiring…so what does gender have to do with that?
    Keep the needles flying

  57. Tina L. says:

    Jeanette,
    Gender. The difference is gender. Identity markers like gender, race,
    class, sexuality, ability, nationality, and more carry weight and operate within institutionalized systems power of oppression and domination. When male quilters claim, as did J. Bruce, that they revolutionize the economy of the quilt work (by virtue of his white patriarchal privilege), it erases the power dynamics embedded in work–quilting, in this case.
    The fact that this thread, built around gendered ways of speaking about power and belonging, still draws angry participants unmasks the intersectional dynamics of institutional sexism, capitalism and more.
    Warm regards, Tina

    • Jeanette says:

      I understand your comments and find J. Bruce offensive. But, simply put, if you believe in equality, you believe in equality.
      Women have had to fight to participate in and be recognized for so much in our lives, why would we of all people dish it back? I recognize this as a very simplistic statement but I also feel that if we would view each other as individuals versus stereotyped groups, we’d all be better for it.

  58. Tina L. says:

    I agree. Individuals have a keen role in fighting systematic oppression. However, institutionalized systems of domination and oppression (sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism) operate on a structural level. For example,
    we have to legislate for and create policies around women’s/gay/(dis)abled rights because of how patriarchy and capitalism operate in government, religion, education and other institutions.
    We can’t simply hug it out. We have to fight for space at the table. Allowing space here to discuss what is often papered over by feel good rhetoric is important.

  59. Lindsey says:

    Molli, good for you to create a way for men to support each other in their interests. While I agree with a lot of other commenters about gender dynamics in patriarchal societies, I also believe that expanding the level of interest in quilting and sewing to more men is a good thing, and that having the means to connect with others who have similar experiences to your own is a comfort.

    Having said that, I think the choice of “No Girls Allowed Quilting Bee” as the title is really unfortunate, and undercuts the idea that participants in the bee view women and girls as anything other than unworthy. I read your comments about how you and those participating greatly discussed the title and that it was *intended* to be tongue-in-cheek, but I don’t think the pure intentions negate the gut reaction that it seems so many have had (including myself) to those words. As others have mentioned, the U.S., at least, is not at the point where women are included in the workplace, government, etc., at the same rate as men. Your choice of wording seems to reinforce these inequalities, as if to assert that they even exist within the quilting world–a sphere in which I believe many women have actually found solace and power in their identity.

    Just to restate, I think it’s great that men are looking to connect with each other and confirm the legitimacy of their interest in quilting. It’s the *wording* for your quilting bee that I think wasn’t considerate to the struggles that women continue to face in many facets of their lives. As much as the intent wasn’t to harm, my first thought when stumbling across a blog that featured the logo for your bee was, “What the hell? Have men’s rights groups infiltrated quilting?!” After reading your responses to comments here, I don’t think that’s the impression you wished to give.

    • Lindsey says:

      P.S. I guess I should mention that I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who learned to quilt and sew from female relatives, and who quilts for pleasure and not to sell anything. This means I’ve never faced the issue of having to price a quilt, or of having my quilts being devalued due to stereotypes about my gender or the craftsmanship.

    • Frank Palmer says:

      The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum named the show. A woman, as a matter of fact. Million had nothing to do with the creation of the show, so he was merely defending the bitter attack that was perpetrated by another blog. His intentions should not be called into question.

      • Lindsey says:

        Frank, did you read my entire comment? I was addressing the name of the men’s quilting bee that Molli Sparkles is involved with, NOT the quilt exhibition name.

  60. Hadley says:

    You nailed it: “Their dick may have got them in the door.”

    BOOM! That’s the fucking issue.

  61. Frank Palmer says:

    Molli, actually. Not million. Autocorrect. Molli, please change your name to “Million Sparkles”. Thank you

  1. January 17, 2016

    […] who have strong opinions, and we like to share them! Thank you to everyone who left comments on the Men and Quilting: A Response posting. An even bigger thank you for keeping it (pretty much) classy. I’ve read through all […]

  2. January 18, 2016

    […] Men and Quilting: A Response Mollie Sparkles (14 Jan 2016) […]

  3. January 25, 2016

    […] response by Molli Sparkles/Joshua […]

  4. May 3, 2016

    […] I don’t think I need to rehash the entire debate, but you’re welcome to read my original (and heated) counter-argument. A lot has changed since then: for one, things aren’t so hot around here! Stephanie […]

  5. May 9, 2016

    […] months ago I was put on a defensive Louboutin heel, which set off a stir of gender-related quilt discussion. After much screaming and hair pulling […]

  6. May 23, 2016

    […] Molli Sparkles  […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *