There are more and more discussions coming up about the gender rate of the talent line-up at magic conventions. In the past decade, there has emerged an amazing amount of fantastic women doing amazing magic. Real talent, a fresh breeze in our “men’s world”.
A lot of the older guys sitting in the boards of the clubs and booking talent for conventions feel threatened. They can’t step out of their way of thinking, and more than often are happy to book only “what they know and has been good for decades”.
A question arises: Why do we need so many conventions? The whole discussion centres around the gender balance of bookings at conventions, but not what to do to get more material into the hands of women, which I think is a major problem.
A lot of the “magic conventions” developed into a gathering of merchants and customers, and a “fun-time” affair, serving the attendees with a pleasant weekend. It’s all about selling and having a good time. As Richard Kaufman wrote, people (mostly men!) go there seeing good magic, buying crap in the dealer’s room, socialising and having a good time. He is right.
But this has nothing to do with the advancement of the craft.
If we want a bigger representation of women in magic, then we had to do a few things first at the basis. We would have to open the pipelines for them in the technique of magic. How much of the published material is possible to be performed by women? We’ve been using pocket work (ditches, steals, switches) for ages — all from the male perspective of the wardrobe. 95% of that isn’t useful to women. We could create magic both genders can do without changing the technique. Independent of the wardrobe. But we don’t do it.
We should also start creating magic for women’s needs. They have a different attack than men. They often see the magic in a different way, bringing fresh air into our dusty covered, old-fashioned men-dominated playground. These old-fashioned clichés and role models are obsolete these days. The presentation angles have changed a lot. The plots and topics, the patter. All of them. A lot of women are nauseated by the environment they find at magic conventions.
Most magicians are stuck in the past. I know, because I am stuck in the past myself, but then, I am a man, and I don’t face the technical problems, at least.
To see more women at our magic conventions, we must change our attitude, and we must offer more material and techniques suitable for women. And we must change our old-fashioned, biased attitude.
Maybe then more women would find magic more attractive.