Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where Are The Creative Women and Why Don't They Speak?

crossposted at BlogHer.org

The discussion appears to have started when Jen Bekman posted on her blog, Personism, about the Creativity Now Conference that Tokion will be putting on later this month.  She edited their announcement as follows:
This unique symposium will bring together top figures men in art, design, fashion, photography, film, new media, publishing and marketing. In the same room for the first time, thepeople men shaping today’s popular culture will spend two days exchanging their ideas, methods and inspirations before an audience of 2,000.
Ken from Tokion responded with a list of invited women speakers  (including Yoko Ono, Soffia Coppola, and Dana Schutz) who declined the invitation and added:

As for “who knew it was so damn hard?” Well, as that list shows, it ISN’T hard coming up with talented women working in art, design, fashion, photography, film, new media, publishing and marketing.

But the speakers list you see reflects the reality of who was willing/available to confirm for the conference. However, it’s flattering to think that we give the impression that we have so much control over the creative community’s colllective schedule that we get to pick and choose our speaker list without outside considerations.
Brooklyn Vegan continued by adding:
They said they tried but couldn’t find any [women speakers}. We say: try harder.
At which point Jen started listing potential speakers and the very impressive list continued in the comments.

Grace summarized the story and solicited responses from her readers at Design*Sponge. The most interesting comment came from Stephanie:
I agree with you and Jen that it's unacceptable of Tokion to settle with all men after inviting a long list of women who were unable or declined to attend. If that is the case, you damn well keep trying. As is evident by the lists that are popping up all over the internet as a result of yours and Jen Bekman's blogs, there is no shortage of creative women to invite. And the presence of women on those panels does matter.

It matters to the psyche of a 15 year-old future-artist in Topeka, Kansas reading about this event in the news, with no explanation offered as to why there are no women present. It matters to the any number of women (and men) attending this event, just starting out in the creative world, looking for inspiration and direction, and hearing only a male perspective (which is going to be different from that of a female, no matter how much we would like to think otherwise). And It even matters to all the established women in the creative sector who at this point should be able to put aside gender disparity to focus solely on their work, but every once in a while hears about something like this, and suddenly finds herself spending the next hour (or however long) revisiting an old topic which she had long ago hoped to put to rest.
This sounds like the emotions and "call to action" occurring just over two years ago that lead to the creation of BlogHer. Do creative women need to take the step of forming CreateHer... or can the public discussions like this one work as a call to action to conference organizers without a formalized organization to push the issue? From Tokien's responses, I do not have confidence.

A giant curtsy to Leslie Madsen Brooks for the tip on this story.

Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

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