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T O P I C    R E V I E W
5needlesmatt Posted - 10/10/2006 : 5:34:36 PM
Something that's been nagging me lately is that I seem to be the only guy in many of the activities I participate in. On Saturday, I attended the first session of a knitting class, and of course I was the only man there, as I am always the only man in the yarn shop not tagging along with a woman. I work as a special education assistant, and of the six staff in the classroom in which I work, I'm the only man. I'm also only one of two male assistants in the whole building. I regularly find myself as either the only man or one of two men at church discussion groups and things. Is something wrong with me? I value having male friends, but I just don't encounter them in the events I tend to go to. Is there something wrong with me, or with the male gender in U.S. culture?
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
fiddlerbird555 Posted - 03/01/2010 : 12:22:09 PM
I bet at least half the women here have been in exactly that position at some time or another.

Activities where I've been surrounded by men: 1). Job (engineer), 2). Tai Kwon Do 3). D&D The last was particularly difficult as it happened AFTER I'd been gaming for several years in a group of mostly women. Then I had to move for employment, could only find male groups, who totally freaked because I WAS a single female, and we couldn't get any decent gaming done.

Be glad you're not single; it gets more brutal with the implicit assumption that you are only there to get a date.


____________________________________________________

I can go loopy, or I can knit. Your choice.
Katheroni Posted - 03/01/2010 : 08:57:14 AM
Pamela, your Navy son does know about the handwork tradition among sailors, right? Knitting, embroidery, and TATTING included.

My five-year-old son knits. He tries to spin, tat, and crochet, too. So far, he's only developed skill with the knitting, but he is starting to take off with it now.

I am starting a fibery-pursuits group here in my town (there are only 50 people here, so it's sort of small. You know.) So far, only women, which is fine. I mentioned last time that if anyone knew any men who enjoy textile work, they are welcome too. I was met with silence, although I think that was mostly because they didn't know any men who might come. However, in the summer when the vacationers are in town, I wouldn't be surprised if we discover one or two. That would be nice, since mixed groups tend to be less insular, and I like that. But if not, whatever, that's all right.

At my old SnB there were three male regulars. I don't think they were treated particularly differently, but maybe I was missing something. At least one had been around a long time. He founded a spinning retreat long ago that is still running. I just can't imagine members of the group freaking out over him or anything. And y'all, that was in UT, which isn't exactly a bastion of freedom from gender stereotypes.
pjkite Posted - 03/01/2010 : 06:14:23 AM
It's funny - this topic has come up several times recently in groups of which I'm a part. The general consensus is that everybody should do what makes them happy.

My sons learned to weave, spin, knit and tat at a fairly early age. The older one still tats; the younger still spins and knits and sometimes sews. Will they come back to weaving one day? Probably, when they have room for a loom again!

My older son's in the Navy, and while his tatting initially raised a few eyebrows, now he's taught several others on his sub to tat during deployments. It's just part of what they do, and nobody thinks about it - except to show off what they've made to their wives or girlfriends. Of course, tatting is knots, and sailing is knots...

My younger son was part of one of the groups discussing gender sterotyping last week. His take on it was initially fairly typical 22 yo male - 'I get to be surrounded by babes and have their undivided attention' - but then he got serious. He commented that spending a couple of days each month while growing up in a group of talented, smart, articulate women had made him look at all women differently. He likes getting to know both men and women, and seeing what their talents and outlooks are on all sorts of things. He has lots of friends who are of both sexes, and who seem to accept him for himself.

Part of this acceptance, of course, is that he's an art ed major at a major university whose friends are much like himself. Part of it probably stems from his part-time job as a handyman who's adept with any power tool you can name. A chunk of it comes from his unwillingness to judge other folks' choices. And I think the major part is that he's comfortable with himself.

My DH is another male who's into traditionally feminine pursuits - he does magnificent cross-stitch. He loves to be in the company of women, and genuinely appreciates them for their talents and achievements. He's my favorite co-demonstrator because he absolutely loves what I do and is visably and vocally proud of it.

So, you truly are not unique. You're just somewhat unusual in your particular geographic region! Enjoy what you do, and the people (male and female) with whom you do it, and don't worry about the mean-sprited ones who are unhappy with themselves.

Pamela Kite
East Tennessee
http://fiberlife.blogspot.com/

fmarrs Posted - 03/01/2010 : 05:23:45 AM
Steve,

The men who pick on you are scared. You are a threat to them so they have to pick on you to prove they are right when they are scared they are wrong. Machismo is just a cover up. Think of your action heroes. They never felt they had to prove anything because they were self assured. But there was always some joker who wanted to test them just to prove he was like them. You are also self assured and you don't need to prove anything. I had a friend who also had a variety of interests that did not fit the machismo image. When someone challenged him, he just grinned and said: "yep, you're right" Totally unflappable and therefore totally dull to the one trying to pick a fight.

I have been a frequent victim of gender profiling. Of course, I'm old, 69, but I had to go through it in order for you younger folks to take it for granted. I was rejected for mortgages, not because I couldn't afford them but because I was a woman who was single. I had to apply for 11 mortgages before I found one and then had to threaten to take them to court before they granted it to me and they insisted that I change my checking and saving accounts to their bank and keep enough money in my savings account to cover 4 months of mortgage payments in case I became pregnant. Sounds ridiculous today, doesn't it. One of the comments made back then was: "I can't believe they pay a woman that much money." My comment: "I can't believe such a stupid man has so much authority."

fran

http://martianmischief.blogspot.com/
KS Posted - 02/28/2010 : 6:55:02 PM
Steve, I don't think most of those giving you the type of attention you didn't want meant anything bad. When people get presented with something unexpected, many times they give an inappropriate reaction that they later wish was different. I know that doesn't change how you feel about it. Than again, there are some really narrow minded people out there. Those people are the ones I think are wrong.

Jan, I'm happy to hear that the younger generation is being more open minded.

I would like to encourage anyone to join us in our passion. Even those narrow minded types.
hillstreetmama Posted - 02/28/2010 : 1:10:24 PM
My son is 17 and knits. He learned in middle school, along with a group of friends, both male and female. Back then, they all came to the Sit & Knit Nite at the LYS, but high school and all its busyness made them quit coming. Lately, he and two of his (male) friends have been going to the LYS to knit every Tuesday after school. I think it's cool. He doesn't often come to me for help - he saves his questions for the LYSO.

He's very interested in music and drama, so I guess this is just another artistic outlet. Though the knitting sometimes raises eyebrows, it's usually MY generation (questioning his sexual orientation, I think) - HIS generation is okay with it.

Jan
chiral Posted - 02/28/2010 : 04:25:57 AM
I have been knitting and sewing for 30 years as a result of having small kids and a wife who could do neither. My biggest "gripe" is being talked down to by ladies who run sewing and yarn shops. If I had 5 cents for every time I've heard "What does your wife want you to get?" I'd be rich.

I stayed away from knitting clubs because I always went without the wife (lack of interest on her part) and found myself the center of a little too much attention. I like meeting people and sharing knowledge but I just get a bit sick of the same things happening over and over.

Back in the early 80's I was part of an Australia-wide Male Knitters Club but with 1,000's of miles between members we never met up and the group eventually folded. This did make me aware of how many male knitters there are, even in a country that frowns upon such things.

Steve
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiral1/
Elisjay Posted - 11/16/2006 : 08:12:46 AM
Just go out and do your own thing. As long as you are happy with your lifestyle don't worry about others. There are men out there who knit, sew and various other hobbies that seem to collect more females but there again there are women taking up engineering, wood work and all sorts of manly type jobs. Go out and enjoy it there must be some who are quite jealous of your talents.
KL Posted - 11/08/2006 : 09:59:50 AM
Another spin to Men who really like the company of women, is my Tom.

Yes he is a "Motor Head",[collects and rebuilds classic cars], knows his way around the tool box , can build anything,likes to play golf, is a great creative cook,and makes guy friends easily.

That being said- He is totally fascinated with the comeraderie of women, loves to tune in on their conversations as a listener, is awed by their collective talents, thinks that they have a strength that Men can't comprehend, gives them great respect at all ages, and basically thinks that most men would revert to being cavepersons if it were not for women.

I have tried to tell him that I think he would really make a great knitter, as he is so creative in general; but he seems to draw the line at that point.[:00]

I'll keep trying. Maybe when he can't see his way around the garage; I can convince him to pick up the needles.

Male knitters ROCK!KL
dad_who_spins Posted - 11/08/2006 : 08:50:30 AM
Hi 5needlesmatt,

I, too, am frequently the only male or one of a few males involved in the activities or pursuits which I enjoy. Iím happily married, too, and my wife and I both enjoy the fiber arts. Although you and I donít follow mainstream American male pursuits, it doesnít mean that there is anything wrong with you, me or the male gender in U.S. culture. The ďnormĒ is the norm and will always be determined by society. I recognized long ago that being different from ďthe normĒ comes with benefits as well as costs. With that realization, Iíve chosen to go my own way because thatís ultimately what makes me the happiest and most productive person I can be.

Lucky for me Iíve always found it easier to establish and maintain friendships with women than with other guys. Iím a ponderer, dreamer, and talker, and I find most women more willing than men to listen, discuss, and reflect on various topics that are consistent with my interests. I donít follow the outcomes of professional sports, have no fascination with hunting, fishing or golf, view cars as merely transportation, and only enjoy the use of power tools for creative purposes. After you eliminate these popular male conversational topics, you are left with things like religion and politics (potentially controversial) or career and work (competitive or boring). This pretty much limits my participation in small talk and conversation starters with other men. However, Iím okay with that and I guess since Iíve not had many close friendships with other guys, I donít know what Iím missing. Like another responder to your post, I take solace in the benefit of shorter restroom lines at fiber arts events.


dad_who_spins
Addicted to Spinning
collieknit Posted - 10/20/2006 : 3:56:31 PM
For me, it's not very unusual to be around women for the majority of the day. I am the only guy where I work, and the only guy at my knitting group.
aranworld Posted - 10/20/2006 : 08:29:26 AM
With the sole exception of a short-lived part-time job in college, all my bosses have been women. I spend most of my time with my girlfriend and her friends, and I am generally happiest in the company of women.

The only problem with hanging out with women, is that they are rarely interested in playing video games. If there was a "stitch 'n beach 'n video game" group, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

http://knitting.aranworld.com/
Ruby Plaid Posted - 10/20/2006 : 07:58:36 AM
I had a similar situation when I was in art school in the 90's. I took some classes on how to draw comic book style, and I was literally the only woman, or one of two women, in every class! [:00]

My sassy knitting blog is here: http://www.rubyplaid.com
5needlesmatt Posted - 10/19/2006 : 4:30:37 PM
That's awesome that you got your son knitting! Should my wife and I have a son some day, I hope he'll pick it up, too.
Kelly B Posted - 10/18/2006 : 8:57:38 PM
We're working on the coming generation - my 5th grade boy and his (male) friend are going to try the knitting club tomorrow. They both already know how.
LoneKnitter Posted - 10/18/2006 : 2:05:43 PM
DARN - The good ones are always taken! HA HA HA HA Don't let the people around you determine the person you are supposed to be. Do what you want to do - life is too short to deny yourself happiness!
5needlesmatt Posted - 10/17/2006 : 5:28:28 PM
Thank you for your reassurance and advice, everybody. To the most recent post, I have to reply that I am very happily married, and my wife and I are involved in a number of the activities I mentioned (church, knitting) together. She's very supportive and never tells me I need to live up to all the machismo b.s. we see on TV and so forth.
kdcrowley Posted - 10/16/2006 : 3:25:54 PM
Nothing wrong with you.....but maybe god is telling you to marry one of those women....assuming that is the side of the river you like to dance on!



Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
gallant_duck Posted - 10/16/2006 : 12:48:16 PM
I suspect it's as much to do with the things you're interested in as it is cultural gender sequencing in the States. A lot of men, as well as a lot of women, find it hard to allow people to escape the constructs of 'given' gender roles. Actually, not just the States, anywhere. Over here it's pretty rare to see men getting involved in knitting circles, and yet two men (Chris and Gerard) have had I Knit London going for yonks and recently opened up a shop in Vauxhall (south London). And they're brilliant.

Sadly, a lot of organic creative stuff -- i.e. craft without hammers -- gets chucked in the soppy female camp. It's taken years of reclaiming the notion that our sort of creativity is productive, useful and empowering for women, let alone trying to introduce the idea to a largely patriarchal social network.

I do think it's worth remembering that knitting is only fairly recently a 'woman's hobby'. In 16th C France, knitting guilds were men only. Knitting spread across Europe via (male) sailors and soldiers during the Crusades. Only after the Industrial Revolution sent men into the factories did knitting get shut inside and become domesticated. Really, you're just one part in a long line of masculine activity. The fact you have to question yourself for being so speaks volumes about how much our society has evolved, but also where it's going. Roll over Mrs Beeton.

emmms

http://erqsome.typepad.com
booklover1971 Posted - 10/16/2006 : 12:37:35 PM
Sounds to me like you're a man who appreciates a different kind of activity and company than the "typical" man in America. That's okay! Be true to yourself!

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