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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Feminine Mystique » » Sexism and magic (redux) (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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TomB
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We use to joke that the prettiest girl in the Copperfield audience would be selected on stage. Absolutely, females are picked for eye candy. I would argue that more attractive people generally means you had a more successful act.

That is not just magic. That's everywhere. All things being equal, the more attractive person will always get the job. Many studies have been done on this. It pays to be pretty. It is not just a female phenomenon. Better looking males will always get the job as well.

We cannot fight human nature. In fact, when I goto a show, I don't want to see average people. When I watch movies, I want better looking characters.

Women are not picked because they are weak, or feeble minded. That is reading way to much into it. If anything, an old white guy is getting picked for those stereotypes. They usually can handle the poor treatment that goes with weak, and feeble minded character.

Sure young men are picked for strength. Because they are physically strongest. If you want two people tugging on Rope (pendragons rings a bell) showing they are strong, you grab two guys.

Next year, I plan to have my daughters perform a chair suspension. I already am telling them to pick a girl with long hair. The long hair adds the best visual, and typically females weigh less. Am I being sexist? Or do I understand what creates the best illusion?

I'd like to see a study on the people picked verses where they sit. My wife refuses to sit in the first few rows because she does not want to be picked. There also is eye contact. Are men more quick to look away?

I think it's extremely sexist to think men pick women based on weak women characteristics.
WitchDocChris
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Quote:
I think it's extremely sexist to think men pick women based on weak women characteristics.


Except it is definitely taught that way.

I can't even remember how many times I've been told by performers (lectures/videos) or read it in books. "Select a good volunteer, preferably a woman." Women are taught to comply from an early age. They are taught not to make a fuss or cause anyone to be embarrassed. Therefore they are more likely to simply go along with whatever they are told to do when they are put in the spotlight. Men are taught to be brash and bold, and therefore are more likely to think they're being funny if they cause problems.

If you can't see that you're either not paying attention or willfully ignorant.

Quote:
I'd like to see a study on the people picked verses where they sit. My wife refuses to sit in the first few rows because she does not want to be picked. There also is eye contact. Are men more quick to look away?


I can't speak universally of course, but for sheer practicality I've often chosen volunteers from the front row and/or aisle seats. That way I don't have to try to fill time while someone shuffles their way from the middle of a row to the aisle and up to the stage. If I'm using someone in the middle of the crowd, I often go out to them while I'm talking to reduce the chance of dead time.

In my experience, men are not quick to look away. Usually they are the ones watching most closely.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
TomB
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"Select a good volunteer, preferably a woman." Women are taught to comply from an early age. They are taught not to make a fuss or cause anyone to be embarrassed. Therefore they are more likely to simply go along with whatever they are told to do when they are put in the spotlight


I do not connect the dots that people that do not make a fuss or comply with instructions are weak, or feeble minded.

I am not even sure those females that are raised to not make a fuss or comply have the right personality to be on stage. Typically, those people are more shy. I do not think you want a shy person on stage. You want someone with a likeable personality.

I think being a good sport is vastly different than being weak or feeble minded. Magicians should always look for good sports, and if women are naturally better sports that would be a good reason to select them.

I would go on to say certain people from different countries are raised to not make a fuss and comply. Oddly, I never hear people being told select these people because they listen better.

As a psuedo scientific experiment, it would be interesting to have pictures of say 25 random people. Then have the magic Café forum members pick 5 volunteers. Then state a reason why that person was picked. I wonder based on looks alone, would we select the same 5 people and if we had common reasons.
danaruns
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Amazingly, the Café's choice of five volunteers was unanimous! And 100% of men surveyed said they were all chosen for their "sparkling personalities."

Image
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
WitchDocChris
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I really think you're just being willfully ignorant at this point, Tom.

This mentality comes from decades ago when women were considered weak. It's just continued to persist because magicians aren't big fans of questioning how their teachers told them to do something. "That's how my mentor taught me! He was really successful!" Sure, maybe in the 50s when sexual harassment was considered a valid flirting strategy. We must recognize the problems with these traditional mentalities and fix them.

Perfect example: I was at a gala performance at a convention. About 70/80 people in attendance with maybe 6-8 women total, 3 of whom were not at the very back of the audience. In every performance that evening (I think it was 6 performers), one of those three women were chosen as volunteers. If there was no bias towards picking pretty young ladies, maybe one of them would have been chosen once all evening, instead of every act.

Quote:
As a psuedo scientific experiment, it would be interesting to have pictures of say 25 random people. Then have the magic Café forum members pick 5 volunteers. Then state a reason why that person was picked. I wonder based on looks alone, would we select the same 5 people and if we had common reasons.


Pseudo scientific indeed. This would yield no reliable information whatsoever. All the bias that being on the forums would create aside, any choice made outside of a live performance is irrelevant because it removes all the factors that a live performance creates.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
TomB
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I do not doubt pretty women are selected. People will always select outgoing, good looking people, especially young females.

But I do NOT think it is because men consider them weak. Maybe it is a generational thing, but I was raised that anybody can accomplish anything given the opportunity and the ambition. I have seen on TV a guy with no legs and no arms climb Mt Everest.

I have never had a teacher say females are mentally weak. I also have never been one to nod and agree with a teacher who was wrong. As you might suspect, I welcome a good debate.

Personally, I grew up in a single family home where my mom did everything. I have a sister. I have a wife. I have raised my daughters without limitations.

If you think women are picked because they are weak, and I am ignorant because I think they are picked because they look beautiful, then we will just have to agree to disagree.
WitchDocChris
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Quote:
People will always select outgoing, good looking people, especially young females.


And you don't think that's sexist? There's plenty of outgoing, good looking men. Why aren't they chosen more often?

Let's look at the example I gave before. As I said, 3 of the women present were near the front, the others were way in the back and clearly wanting to avoid being selected as volunteers (by their own admissions). We'll say ... 30 men were close enough to the stage to be easy fodder for volunteer selection.

That's a ratio of 1 to 10.

Many of the men present were attractive, as well as being skilled performers. Obviously that would be valuable on stage.

And yet those three women were consistently chosen. Why do you think that is?
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
danaruns
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Quote:
On Jul 23, 2019, TomB wrote:

If you think women are picked because they are weak, and I am ignorant because I think they are picked because they look beautiful, then we will just have to agree to disagree.


Where are you getting this "weak" thing you keep posting about? Who said women are chosen because they are "weak"?
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
TomB
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Danaruns, I was quoting WitchdocChris, see quotes below.

Quote:
This mentality comes from decades ago when women were considered weak

And
Quote:
Women are taught to comply from an early age. They are taught not to make a fuss or cause anyone to be embarrassed. Therefore they are more likely to simply go along with whatever they are told to do when they are put in the spotlight. 


I just think women are picked because they are beautiful and make the magician naturally look better. I'd argue its healthy and natural for men to pick attractive women. But when I see these other comments of why women are picked, I think they are way over complicating things. Men are visual. Let's not insult women intelligence for magic trickery.

And in your picture above was a good jest, but in all seriousness, you only get to pick 5! So if you had to, which ones are left out. We cannot see their faces and they have the same outfits, so personality is probably not the reason. Are short hair girl removed, do you have all blondes, or do you select diversity. Do you have a prop that needs a girl to be a certain height? It's not that simple that all men are pigs. You are selecting people you think compliment your show.

So there are visual concerns in finding the best looking person, typically a female. To me, I would pick the girl that has the biggest smile. Or you want to pick the person that is the most popular person in the room. You are looking for the prom king and queen. You want your show to stand out. You do not want it to be 'average'. Even in a senior home, you would want the Sean Connery over the average joe. As the magician, you need to pick that person out without knowing them.

If a guy is wearing jeans and a t-shirt and another is wearing a civilian army suit, I am picking the guy in a suit. Outfits bring conversation. It most likely will be an easy applause when you thank him for his service. You just warmed up the crowd. If it's a small room, and a person has a big gathering, I might pick one of those people because I know the gathering will react to everything that is done. We would all do this for a birthday party, for instance.

When my daughter had to pick volunteers for a mentalist trick, I told her to pick someone old enough that could write hard with a pen with neat handwriting. During the show, she just picked all her friends. They weren't stooges, but it wasnt random. For one pick, she went back and forth across the floor searching for a certain boy. In my opinion she took way too long. These picks have to be split decision, or determined during the act prior to asking.

You being a female magician, do you find yourself picking more males?
TomB
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And if you look at the original comic, notice the assistant is not smiling. She looks bored, almost rolling her eyes practically falling asleep. She is no doubt much prettier than the magician. Nevertheless, she should be replaced as she does not embrace fun! Whatever he is saying is high energy. She does not compliment his style. Unless it's a comedy, this is a bad pair.
Pop Haydn
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I often look for a woman volunteer, not necessarily young or pretty, for reasons of performance. Women, on the whole, are much more able to engage on a "play" level with the performer without the competitiveness and ego of a male assistant. In the shell game, I deliberately try to evoke a competitive play with a woman. The conflict makes for fun and a liberating engagement.
Aus
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Seems to be a lot of this going on in this discussion:

Image


Danarun and myself have locked horns on this issue previously and she has been quick to substantiate her credentials on the matter by saying she is on the board of directors of the Women Magicians Association as well as the Women in Magic Committee for the Academy of Magical Arts. Been a student at Magic University at the Magic Castle, taught students in Magic University at the Magic Castle, written articles about women in magic. She's read dissertations on the historical and modern roles of women in magic. She's interviewed women magicians, she knows lots of women magicians, and has spoken to a large number of women magicians from all over the world about what it means to be a woman and a magician.

Yet rather then these things bringing substantive weight to her position, it instead leaves further questions begging. With her being at the coal face of the issue and doing a self proposed deep dive into researching it, why isn't their an quantitative scientific measure on this problem. If danarun has the strength of her convictions on the matter why isn't she using her privilege, position and power as a representative to women in magic to push for an independent and unbiased investigation into the problem.

What would this achieve?

It would take the whole issue out of the realm of the subjective and place it into the world of the objective which is a judgment made on all relevant data, disregards personal prejudice and finds agreement with other competent and informed people, under these circumstances we could put to bed once and for all the question of if it's a problem and start dealing the problem.

Until such time this happens, we will have to be content with the microcosm that is the magic castle and its five booked performance spaces as the canary in the coal mine of rampant sexism in the magic community. Oh and don't forget YouTube as well.

As a follow up question, all these performances at the castle and on youtube that you sight as evidence of sexism is substantiated right? You have asked each and every performer their motivations for their female assistants or did you just assume their motivations?

Nothing exemplifies this better then your comment about Pop Haydn. Despite acknowledging that Pop Haydn is the least sexist person you know you still inferred that his constant selection of female assistants was some how due to a subconscious tendency or unconscious bias by your observation.

But when asked (which you didn't by the way) he reveals a pragmatic and non-sexist reason for his selection of a female assistant.

Now I don't know about you, but If your more then willing to cast aspersions of moral deficiency at your closest friends without sound evidence then I personally don't hold much faith in your impartial judgement of the majority of the male magic community.

This isn't an altruistic attempt of bettering magic for women, this is a male witch hunt.

Magically

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WitchDocChris
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So, unless there's a major scientific study done, you don't acknowledge the number of women who report they've experienced sexism in magic?
Christopher
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TomB
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Fitzkee has stated that sex appeal is very important in his book Showmanship for Magicians.

Picking females is healthy!

And it does not matter what non-sexist reasons are given, its unconscious. What is the difference between "play" and "flirting"? This is much more for those with couches that have studied Frued. We do not need any investigations to tell us human nature. Men that are magicians are not much different then men that are not magicians. The main difference is magicians are acting in a public arena, and probably being recorded. If anything, magicians have more scrutiny than other occupations. They are very well behaved!

Sexism by definition is making stereotypes based on sex. Stating one sex has an ego is by definition sexism. Stereotypes are based off experience. It's a healthy survival mechanism. Those that cannot stereotype do not survive and definitely do not succeed. To be frank, our traditional stereotypes are being challenged more and more each day. As our life experiences changes, so will our preconceptions, good, bad, or indifferrent.

Is the "problem" to fight healthy sex appeal? There is nothing wrong with it. It should be embraced. Or am I wrong? Are females being driven away? If so, then I would like to see some evidence as well.

Or is the problem harassment? Harassment is wrong. If new female magicians are being mistreated, as leaders, as fathers, as men, we stand against it. If these bad guys exist, police should be involved with restraining orders.
Aus
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Quote:
On Aug 15, 2019, WitchDocChris wrote:
So, unless there's a major scientific study done, you don't acknowledge the number of women who report they've experienced sexism in magic?


I believe in due process and the presumption of innocence. Also there is a distinctive difference between acknowledging sexism and believing in sexism. I acknowledge that sexism exists and people make accusations of sexism, however me believing something to be sexist is derived at by the merits of the claim being made and the preponderance of proof provided. If your preponderance of proof is to believe all women wholesale absent of facts and evidence then you and I have a big issue.

This sort of faith based benefit of the doubt without evidence leads to a world of trouble.



Magically

Aus
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