OK, here we go. Men are better than women. At least, that is the view of one distressingly popular and subtly titled website Menarebetterthanwomem.com. Purposely stoking the flames of sexist debate, this site has recently garnered a fair bit of media attention for its archaic views and inflammatory claims. Whilst it would probably end my career as a writer to list some of the most popular posts on this notorious site, I think the fact that the tamest of the bunch is entitled “Female Tourettes Syndrome” speaks volumes.
Now Dick Materson- the editor of the site might have an issue or ten, but I have to admit, he did get me thinking- who make better designers, men or women? Does a man’s sense of direction and internal Tom Tom give him the edge in architecture when pitted against a women’s inability to read a map? There are a lot of map-like plans involved after all, and some buildings can get pretty maze-like! Or does a woman’s powers of rationally and multitasking make her the ultimate design nemesis to the ego driven male paranoia that “his (building) might be bigger and better than mine”?
Historically the biggest and best architects and product designers have all been men- Sir Norman Foster, Cesar Peli, Frank Lloyd Wright, Philippe Starck and Giavanni Alessi are names that readily spring to mind. Conversely however, the names of women- Laura Ashley, Vivienne Westwood and Nicole Miller- dominate textile based design (curtains, luxury bedding etc). So what does this tell us? Well, not a lot really. The area of design a man or woman might choose to work in is probably influenced by society’s views of what is manly and what in girly. It is no coincidence that very industrial design such as the designing of cars and buildings is generally done by men- in telling them that that is what they should design we have created a self fulfilling prophecy which stretches back too far find a root cause- its chicken and egg talk.
Years of sexism in the workplace also has a lot to do with which area of design a man or woman tends to work in. The cavemen of yesteryear probably allowed the women to design things they felt were of less importance (like textiles) as they had bigger concerns like engineering and welding and other things involving a macho mix of brains and brawn. Brains<brawn. If you look at the history of fashion and textile design, you will notice how the amount of male designers cheekily increases as they timeline makes its way towards 2009- as if, realising the importance of these areas, men at some point said “move over love, let me take a look at that”!
Some say that the male “god complex” and their inability to give birth is the reason for their dominance of architecture- man must make his mark and all that. Women are apparently smugly satisfied by the fact that they can create without the need for bricks and mortar.
We have learned something very important here today, but it has little to do with design. Men are skilled creatures indeed- that is, when it comes to neatly side stepping heated discussion.
Look! What’s that behind you…………….?