Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Why aren't there more women magicians?

Here's a look at some of the reasons.

I'll add another: magic has a general difficulty attracting new practitioners. This is because it's such an insular, standoffish, downright cliqueish community. It actively pushes people away in an attempt to hide its secrets. Well, that's not a great way to make new friends. So when the community, for historic reasons, consists almost entirely of males then it becomes very difficult for women to break in. And I suspect the biggest hole in that pipeline is right at the beginning: girls see magic, think it's cool, learn some, meet the community ... go "EWW!" and leave. Individual magicians can be awesomely entertaining, but when you fill a building with them, the result is often off-putting.

If I wanted to solve this problem, I would:

* Acknowledge "assistants" as MAGICIANS. Because as soon as you do that, the representation changes dramatically. Without going into detail, I'll say that in many tricks, the male "magician" is nothing but stage dressing and the women "assistants" are doing all the real work. For which he is stealing all the credit and most of the money. Fixing that is fast, easy, and requires nothing that people don't already have -- except desire. Thus, anyone in the industry who wants to solve this problem can take this step immediately. You're a male "magician" with "assistants" now? Change your billing to make it a three-magician show, or whatever. You're an "assistant" now? Bill yourself as a magician. You hire acts? Choose ones with equal pay and billing for equal work. You write about magic performers? They're all magicians.

* Have an open day or hours in the conventions when novices and curious bystanders could come in and explore for free, instead of it costing so much that few professionals can afford to attend, let alone anyone else. Get the community interested, get the kids in there. If you have 200 magicians, there ought to be at least a few willing to do a public show followed by a meet-and-greet for the sake of attracting new members.

* Establish clubs for under-represented groups. Young magicians, women magicians. magicians with disabilities. Frankly some of the most impressive ones I've seen are the latter. So then novices with those traits could more easily find mentors who share said traits and are thus unlikely to pick on them about it. Thus far all I've seen are a few aimed at young magicians, but those vary in quality of putting the bottom rungs on the latter and then actually connecting to the higher ladders.

I'm not exercised about it, though. The magic community can either grow up or get lost. I'm not going to do their homework for them. I've mentioned these ideas, and if anyone wants to try them, great.
Tags: gender studies, magic, networking, video

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