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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Feminine Mystique » » Sexism and magic (redux) (6 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Melies
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This cartoon in the Dec. 18, 2018 issue of The New Yorker sums up one of the enduring problems in our art, which is of course sexism and the continued reduction of female assistants and spectators alike to the status of sexualized objects:
https://media.newyorker.com/cartoons/5c0......2361.jpg

The fact that a mainstream magazine published the image is all the proof one needs that a significant portion of the public really does see us this way, and all too accurately: as a Men's Only form of entertainment in which women are always the pretty accessories or peripherals. How many national illusion shows are still using stereotypically "beautiful" women in skimpy outfits in their acts? It remains the norm. Just recently, I saw comedy magician Jonathan Burns' appearance last year on Penn and Teller's "Fool Us," and I was shocked by the disgusting way the performer chose to end his otherwise brilliant routine: with him pretending to ejaculate on a spectator on stage. (Yes, seriously.) But if you look at the video of the performance, about 6 minutes in, you can see that the woman standing there "gets" what he's doing and doesn't like it. However, she's on national TV (or soon will be), and has to be a good sport. Meanwhile, the audience is hooting and hollering, and Penn and Teller are falling over laughing. It was like a symbolic gang rape. Unacceptable.

I would love to see just one professional full-time magician in Vegas or some similar venue say publicly that objectifying women on stage is an anachronism and one that we need to retire. I'd like to see just one magic distributor say that it will no longer produce advertising copy for its effects in which *every* spectator is referred to as "she," and *every* magician is referred to as "he." Man=subject. Woman=object.

We are finally seeing more women entering the magical arts, and that will help shift public perceptions of what we are about. Meanwhile, though, male performers like me have a special responsibility to name this crap and to hold other male magicians accountable to a new standard. It's gone on for way to long. I encourage other Café residents to start cataloguing these sexist idiocies. In fact, how about we start a whole website on the topic? Or create a hashtag, like #VanishingSexism?
danaruns
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Thank you for this post. Smile
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Melies
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Sadly but predictably, when I introduced this theme the other day on the Right and Wrong? discussion page (https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?forum=177&topic=681387), I got hammered with the usual defensive, clueless responses by male performers. "There are none so blind as those who won't see," as the saying goes. So it remains an uphill battle.
Mr. Woolery
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Something I find rather disturbing in myself is that I hadn’t even gotten the inappropriateness of the treatment of the lady audience member the first time I watched Burns do that. I had to imagine it going the other way (which would have been objectively funnier) to see how wrong it was. And I think of myself as pretty fair minded.

I do appreciate you posting this because it is important for magic to move beyond sexual role definition.

Patrick
Bill Hegbli
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Melies, what should male and female be referred to as, if not he or she? You did not give the reference words you desire. There are two sexes in this World, and there is a large difference in physical make up between them.

I have always referred to a helper, male or female, as YOU. Will you come up and help me? Will you hold this scarf? Will you pick a card?

Ladies have a certain way of standing, holding, and natural show business presence that male do not possess. It is all about the show an the audience reactions and acceptance to the visual.

Cheleste Evans is the only female magician I ever seen live, that impressed my interest in magic. She was the best. I have never seen a female magician as good as her in my magic visits to conventions.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Bill Hegbli
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Quote:
On Dec 26, 2018, Mr. Woolery wrote:
Something I find rather disturbing in myself is that I hadn’t even gotten the inappropriateness of the treatment of the lady audience member the first time I watched Burns do that. I had to imagine it going the other way (which would have been objectively funnier) to see how wrong it was. And I think of myself as pretty fair minded.

I do appreciate you posting this because it is important for magic to move beyond sexual role definition.

Patrick



If you are referring to the famous comedy team Burns and Allen, they did originally go the other way at 1st, but George realized the audience did not laugh at Gracie being the straight person. So they switched it around, because every time Gracie was getting the laughs, it is show business and they wanted to earn a living in Vaudeville.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Melies
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Bill, you write: "Melies, what should male and female be referred to as, if not he or she?...I have always referred to a helper, male or female, as YOU."

You seem to misapprehend my point: almost every magic book, every ad copy, every commercial effect, depicts the spectator as "she" or "her," not "you." In other words, the spectator is invariably the DONE TO. Now, why is that? Don't we bring men and women onto our stages? I'm suggesting that the use of language matters: among other things, continually referring to spectators as exclusively female reinforces the passivity of women and the agency of male performers.

"Ladies have a certain way of standing, holding, and natural show business presence that male do not possess. It is all about the show an the audience reactions and acceptance to the visual."

Sorry, but you are wrong. Gender is a social construction. It is not natural. Pygmy women in Africa, Aztec women in the 4th century, Hopi women in 800 BCE, and Austrian hairdressers do not or did not stand the same way, act the same way, hold themselves the same way, etc. And they don't/didn't all have the same "natural show business presence," etc. The skimpily clad women in Copperfield's shows do not naturally hold their bodies that way, they are told what to do, how to stand, how to smile, etc. It is a disciplining of the female body as rigorous nearly as what Ballanchine subjected his ballerinas to. Not natural.

You write: "Cheleste Evans is the only female magician I ever seen live, that impressed my interest in magic. She was the best. I have never seen a female magician as good as her in my magic visits to conventions."

That is such a sexist comment, I can't believe you said it--but you did. It's like someone saying, "I once saw Arthur Ashe play, but I never saw another Black play tennis as well before or since." I.e., the logical inference being, BLACK PEOPLE CAN'T BE GREAT TENNIS PLAYERS, AND THE REASON THERE AREN'T MORE OF 'EM IS BECAUSE THEY JUST AREN'T ANY GOOD. I.e. not because of SYSTEMIC UNRELENTING RACISM IN THE WHITE TENNIS WORLD.

Well, I have seen many fabulous female magicians (like Belinda Sinclair)--as good or better than 98% of the male magicians I've seen. But to bring up personal anecdotes is completely beside the point. Your attitude is sadly like that of every other party who ever objected that black people can't be college professors, or women can't be trusted to vote, or the reason there aren't more women in math and science is probably due to genetic inferiority (thank you, Larry Summers), etc.

I'll tell you why there aren't more good female magicians, and also why the ones who are good often shy away from the magic conventions: because the conventions, and the Magic Café, are full of sexist men who don't take women's equality seriously and who are quite happy to keep the club closed.
Bill Hegbli
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You are totally wrong, I live in a black community, and friends with many of them. And comparing 4th world people to the United States is stretching things really far. 4th world woman do have a style all to themselves, but you are so angry, you cannot see it. Wen I was in Vietnam, the men and women were totally unique. I like and interacted whenever possible with them. A very nice and unique culture.

You are also wrong, that we don't want woman in magic, they bend over backwards to help and show case them whenever possible.

You have a very negative view, I am sorry for you, as you are totally wrong.

If you want to get rid of he and she, as I ask, come up with a words you would replace them with. The English language is constantly changing, but if you look want it changed, then change it, but don't put your work on others, and say they are wrong.

A man and woman is in a store, one of them black and one is white, how would you tell the police, who was stealing the merchandise. You have seconds to speak.

I was once asked by a black person, how would you point out a person from 10 people only one was black, they are all grouped together across the street. How would you tell, which person you speaking about? They all had baseball caps, white T shirts and jeans on, and all wore sneakers. He never gave me the answer.

I grew up when there was very few if any black people in my town. It was not a small town. So I have not prejudice against anyone, I make up my mind about all people after I interact with them. My parents never commented about race or prejudice in any form. Just yesterday, a friend of mine, who was once a neighbor just stopped by to say hello. It was thoughtful of him, and he is doing well.

I don't know where you get you judgmental attitude, but it is horrible.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Dougini
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Quote:
On Dec 29, 2018, Bill Hegbli wrote:
I don't know where you get your judgmental attitude, but it is horrible.


To compare the BLACK issue with the FEMALE issue...I just shake my head ruefully. Yeah. Use ANY excuse...no matter how inane...OK this male is slithering away now...Smile

Doug
Bill Hegbli
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Dougini, Melies brought up the Black issue.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Dougini
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I know. Shameful...
Dougini
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On Dec 15, 2018, Melies wrote:...We are finally seeing more women entering the magical arts, and that will help shift public perceptions of what we are about..



Indeed. Here is an example...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDvw3gboX5I&feature=youtu.be

Doug
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
...for magic to move beyond sexual role definition.

Performance is for, not upon, at or to.
Hearts are not the same as clubs or diamonds.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Aus
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On Dec 29, 2018, Bill Hegbli wrote: I don't know where you get your judgmental attitude, but it is horrible.


Let me answer that question Bill, the gender is a social construct and pronoun doctrine is politics derived by the LGBTQIA lobby groups and firmly supported and championed by feminists as part of their broader doctrine of intersectionality which these things are a part of. I could give you evidence that it a load of crap but I think you don't need further convincing on that front from me.

Feminists use intersectionality to award oppression points to individuals to validate or invalidate a personal opinion on the philosophy of "walking in another person's shoes". So the rationale is that because I claim I'm part of a community, and by that, I know what that community thinks and that the community is homogeneous then by extension I'm a valid spokesperson for that community.

The holes in this reasoning is that a) your not part of a community just because you say so, B) the community isn't anymore homogeneous than any other community (it's not even a community), C) just because your a mere member of that community doesn't make you a valid representative of that community, and finally D) no one granted you that power.

So essentially if you don't have the required oppression points that intersectionality dictates then by default your opinions doesn't count for much and you should shut up and listen. It's a poisonous level of terms of engagement that feminism uses to engage in political discourse and under this doctrine, the person who has the least valid opinion of anyone is the straight abled body white male.

Hope that clears things up for you Bill.

Now this pronoun stuff can get to ludicrous levels if left unchecked and here in Australia we starting to see the levels of absurdity that have existed in the US for some time now. I'll leave a video to highlight the point.




Magically

Aus
Mr. Woolery
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Bill, I was talking about Johnathan Burns, as referenced in the OP.

Patrick
adrianrbf
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Many magicians treat their spectators, and their volunteers in particular, with little respect. The "I am powerful and make you look stupid" narrative is quite widespread, as far as I can see. Female spectators and volunteers seem to be treated with even less respect than male ones. In addition to the general narrative to ridicule the spectator, there can be sexist remarks, too. And while there are reasons to prefer female volunteers for one trick and male volunteers for another one, I think that all volunteers (and in fact all spectators) should be treated respectfully.
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