Gen­der im­bal­ance

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation -

I’m writ­ing in re­sponse to a let­ter pub­lished in is­sue 120, ti­tled Imag­ineFX In­equal­ity. Part of me is deeply dis­ap­pointed in Claire’s re­sponse to this let­ter. But I also think I un­der­stand what in­flu­enced that re­sponse.

I be­lieve Claire wanted to be the voice of neu­tral­ity and the is­sue of gen­der im­bal­ance in the mag­a­zine is en­tirely un­in­ten­tional. How­ever, the state­ment, “Per­haps men are sim­ply bet­ter at pro­mot­ing them­selves on­line,” is trou­bling. It car­ries the same un­der­ly­ing sub­text as the ar­gu­ment used to jus­tify the con­tin­u­ing pay gaps be­tween men and women. It both points to and ig­nores the struc­tural is­sues of a cul­ture that makes it harder for tal­ented women to get the same op­por­tu­ni­ties for ad­vance­ment as tal­ented men.

Men do tend to be bet­ter at pro­mot­ing them­selves, on­line and off­line, be­cause psy­cho­log­i­cally men tend to be more com­fort­able di­rect­ing at­ten­tion to things they think they’ve done well. Women, mean­while, through a com­plex web of cul­tural cues and con­di­tion­ing are taught to be mod­est, quiet and unassertive. (How of­ten is the word “bitch” just a syn­onym for an as­sertive woman?) So re­ally, it be­comes a sit­u­a­tion where “neu­tral­ity” tends be biased to­ward favour­ing men.

It’s sort of like putting one colour next to an­other: you might have had a per­fect blue to start with, but now it’s next to some­thing else, it’s start­ing to look more like green. Since you want to keep a true blue, you fid­dle with the bal­ance un­til the colour next to your green looks like true blue – but out­side of that con­text, the blue isn’t true at all. Sim­i­larly, in try­ing to stay neu­tral, you have in­ad­ver­tently short­changed fe­male artists. K Moore, via email Claire replies Thanks for your email, K. I am all-too aware of the is­sues women face in work and life. Also, as a team we have thought long and hard about Char­lotte’s let­ters. In the short space I had to re­ply, I wasn’t try­ing to be neu­tral, or in­deed state that I’m happy with this (how could I be?). Rather, the sim­ple fact is that when I look for artists, there are far many more men than women. This is clearly an im­por­tant is­sue for our in­dus­try and we’re go­ing to ex­am­ine the topic of women in art and the dif­fer­ences they face com­pared to men in our next edi­tion. I’m sure it’s go­ing to be an in­ter­est­ing de­bate and an in­for­ma­tive read.

A let­ter from is­sue 120 on gen­der im­bal­ance has pro­voked a wel­come de­bate on women in art.

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