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


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


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The last two posts were made by women and had more content than ALL the previous posts made by us men (me included).
Conclusions?
There are differences between the sexes...... wow there's a surprise, but bonsai ain't no Gentlemen's Club.

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


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


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