What follows is a post taken from David Savage’s newsletter sent on Wednesday 26th July 2017 to those who have joined the mailing list sign up, which features on the Fine Furniture Maker website (http://www.finefurnituremaker.com/news-and-blog/). Following a personalized letter from David, he has included a response from a female correspondent, to which he replied and forwarded the discussion to all within his mailing list.
“Rested and revived is one thing. Returning to work is quite another. There’s a sense of not being there. At least in mind, if not in body. That, coupled with an irritation that things should have happened but haven’t happened. And things are still in absolutely the wrong place. My studio, instead of being a place of calm reflection and creativity, has become a dump. My e-mail list stretches into four figures and the workshop seems to have managed extremely well without me. Which is mildly irritating and gratifying at the same time.
I went today up to Bristol to see an advisor about trading in China. Her name was Antoaneta who had proven to be an extremely attractive woman with three children who had spent twenty two years living in China. We met where Antoaneta suggested, in the foyer of the Novatel hotel in Bristol. When she arrived she sat down opposite me in the low lounge chairs that the Novatel provide you with. And she sparkled with radiance wearing a short, pale grey skirt that showed off her long legs. I felt it was extremely difficult listening to her as she crossed and un-crossed her legs. I said to myself “for gawd sake just look in her eyes, don’t look down.” She was smiling at me through her eyes and telling me about the cultural revolution.
Feminism in my lifetime has changed everything. Certainly, now we regard women in a totally different way. And good for them. But women like Antoaneta are not “playing the game” It’s not fair. She wants equality and quite rightly to be treated as an equal. But she also wants to divert the idiot man’s attention. Which is what she is doing with her lovely legs whenever she chooses to use that power. We should of course be immune to sexual provocation and she should be free to do what she like with her legs. Merely discussing my enjoyment openly would be regarded as sexist. She was a wonderful advisor on the subject and it was worth the drive to Bristol and back as I learnt things about how we engage with the Chinese that I did not know. And I can’t complain as Antoaneta is an extremely beautiful woman. Indeed, why should she hide that beauty behind a boring old business suit?
Have a great woody day!
Email correspondence from Gene:
“Unless you’ve become completely dotty in your advancing age, surely you must realise that in this email you come off, at best, as a dirty old man. At worst as one of those women abusers who blame the woman for his actions. Looks like you’ve been spending way too much time in your shop, and this was the first time you’ve gotten out since the 1960s. Not your finest hour.”
Not my finest hour, I admit. However, I have been a feminist since 1973. It makes me mad as hell that some women think they can have their cake and eat it. If you want equality, and I do, then don’t use your sexuality.
Not my doing, hers. And it’s about time men started complaining about the double standard in operation here.
Have a great day.
This is my open response to the dialogue shown above. This is a personal response formulated after a discussion with my partner on the topic. I am more than happy to engage in further discussion, so please get in touch if you have more to say on the matter.
I was pleased that my boyfriend forwarded me this post from your regular newsletter, as I would like to add to the discussion.
First of all, I would like to commend Gene for not only using her initiative to engage in a dialogue with you, but also for phrasing her response so well. Your anecdote puts forward an argument about a woman perhaps using her sexuality to further her position in the World, however as the woman within your example was actually helping you- what was she to gain by drawing your gaze to a part of her body?
To suggest that a woman is asking for attention if she wears anything the slightest bit revealing, is a slippery slope to the blame culture that is present within sexual assault and rape crimes, which Gene pointed out very well. And within your response to Gene, you still don’t seem to have realised this, as your language is again very blameworthy: “Not my doing, hers”.
Secondly, I would argue that you seem to have confused gender equality with a discussion on sexuality; the two are different things! I’m sure Antoaneta was indeed a beautiful woman; a caring mother with an impressive mind and business acumen; then why should her legs be the main thing you focus on? It is not she who is objectifying her- it is you! The female body has become a commodity within our patriarchal society, a tool for advertising and marketing, however, by the sound of it, this woman was proud of her body and wanted to celebrate it, which I fully commend her for.
I feel that there definitely is a point for discussion in what you have highlighted within Feminist debate, however I think you should reconsider the example used, or perhaps the way you chose to describe the meeting, to support your argument; as well as perhaps reconsider your choice of phrasing, as it does not cast you in the most positive of light, and can be viewed as insensitive when speaking about a controversial issue. I don’t think that this one encounter is enough to tarnish an incredibly important movement.
Having looked on your website, in order to sign up for your mailing list, the list of possible subjects for your newsletters do not outline anything about rallying for Menimism, which is clearly what you have written: “it’s about time men started complaining about the double standard in operation here”.
As a young woman entering into the furniture industry, who is keen to encourage more women to pursue a career in furniture making, I am very passionate about this topic of debate. I hope my response might shine a new light on your thinking and I welcome a response from you. I hope that one day we might even cross paths, particularly as the furniture industry is so small, and we would be able to discuss this in person.