The Art and Mystery is Invaded

BSA6CABINET-MAKERS who labour under the disadvantage of belonging to the sterner sex must look to their laurels. The art and mystery is invaded by the ladies, and according to a contemporary the movement in this direction is extending. Not only are the light painted articles of furniture receiving the attention of the fair workers, but carved work is also being executed by their nimble fingers, thanks chiefly to the School of Wood-Carving at South Kensington, which affords practical tuition to a large number of female pupils.

There may be nothing very serious in all this, but it is a fact not to be despised. Feminine competition is gradually affecting the labour market in all sorts of branches, and although, no doubt, a very desirable thing that our “sisters, cousins, and aunts,” should be able to earn their own living, the prospect of men standing idly by while the women do the work, is not particularly pleasing. There is no doubt that they come to many employments with great advantages, being usually more patient, more painstaking, and defter in manual occupations requiring great nicety of touch. Consequently their male coworkers must endeavour to foster these characteristics if they hope to cope successfully with them.

There is one drawback to a workshop full of members of the gentler persuasion. Those conversational powers so frequently granted to them would, we fear, tend somewhat to retard the progress of work, and a suite or sideboard might be disastrously delayed owing to a heated discussion on the merits of a new bonnet or a fresh colour in ribbons, unless, indeed, our fair carvers are superior to such frivolities.

The Furniture Gazette – (London) May 1, 1889

– Jeff Burks

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13 Responses to The Art and Mystery is Invaded

  1. archiphile13 says:

    It caused me great consternation when reading this. Until I saw that you where quoting here, I was fairly close to being quite angry at the overt sexism here. I think that publishing this without comment is a terrible idea. I mean sure, society as a whole has come a long way since the late Victorian era, in that at least now we have the good sense not vociferously proclaim this idiocy, but some people may have missed the memo. Mr. Burks, the lack of a comment on your part could imply that you’re on board with the quote, when you might be trying to say “see boys and girls–look how far our ideas about women have come!”


    • Jeff Burks says:

      You are correct in noting the overt sexism in this 124 year old newspaper editorial, which, as you have probably guessed by now, was the only reason I chose to republish it. Your comment seems to be suggesting that allowing my readers to draw their own conclusions from the content I provide is a bad idea. Notwithstanding the poor media literacy of the average modern citizen, I remain hopeful that the majority of Lost Art Press readers will be able the digest my posts without being coddled.


  2. fitz says:

    “Gentler persuasion” – ha! (Ask my co-workers.)


  3. daltxguy says:

    Nothing serious will come of it…


  4. eveabreu says:

    We’ve come a long way baby, but there’s more work to be done!


  5. joeyb5 says:

    Whatever became of the “caption-the-photo-contest” (2 guys in doorway w/planes)?
    Sorry for hijack, but I could not find any general “contact” method here.


  6. Clay Dowling says:

    That article isn’t as sexist as some folks are making it out to be. It is very correct in the conclusion that women in the workforce will be disruptive to the established order of things, and moreso that men will need to improve their skills if they don’t wish to be displaced in this new, more competitive marketplace. There are natural differences in physical abilities, even though it might be indelicate to say so, and tasks requiring fine motor skills tend to favor women. Ornamental carving, the specific field being discussed, is pretty much the definition of fine motor skill.
    It’s not unlike the current situation in my field, computer programming. In the last couple of decades the marketplace has become more competitive as it has become easier for foreign born workers to work for American companies, either here or in their home countries. Continuous improvement is the only way I can compete against this new crop of workers, who would be happy to work for less money because it’s still a lot more than they were making before.


    • deej96 says:

      I don’t know if I should write a polite response, or just remind you not everyone could choose to be born a white male. Although I see that you are writing in a purely logical manner, and yes I agree men and women are definitely different, that shouldn’t dissuade them from working in the same fields. Keep in mind this post is from 1889, and stereotypes were far from accurate back in the day.

      This is true for other minorities, too. We all need to make a living, even if that means making you work a little harder.


      • Clay Dowling says:

        If my gender or ethnicity offends you, that is your problem, not mine: I had no more say in the matter than you did.

        I encourage you to point out exactly where I offered any justification for restricting entrace into these fields based on gender or ethnicity. I do not appreciate your attempting to paint me as something I am not, based on your own preconceptions of my gender and ethnicity.


      • deej96 says:

        I’m not painting. What point is proven at the end of your first entry then to state how you must work slightly harder because of these people that have bombarded the workforce. If it offended you, I’m sorry…but it’s no fun being on the other side of the fence in such debates as these…as I’m sure you can now see.

        That being said, I don’t want to get into a huge argument, seeing as how nothing we say on here will change what is going on in the world, nor each others point of view. So I raise the white flag.. Good luck in whatever you do, buddy.


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