Monday, 18 November 2013

Where are all the men?

Take a look at the Facebook pages featuring painted furniture and shabby chic* stuff. Notice anything?

What’s that? They’re all great and very talented? You’re not looking hard enough. Try again.

Yes, that’s right, the vast majority are run by women.

And it’s not just on Facebook either, pop into a shop, or search online for an interiors company. Women, women, women.

So what’s the deal? Why do more women than men seem to pick up a paintbrush and set about a piece of furniture? Or, perhaps more to the point, why do so few men do it?

It’s not like it’s a particularly unmacho thing to do. It’s pretty much like DIY. A bloke will spend hours in the shed, bashing stuff around, but paint a chest of drawers? Get lost.

Personally speaking, I find it boring. Not the business, or the product, or the idea of upcycling, but the actual process of painting a piece of furniture – it’s just so bloody dull. If you want to do a good job, you need a perfectionist mentality and patience by the bucketload. I have neither. Just ask Laura.

There are, or course, some exceptions – I’ve come across some very good male furniture painters, but they are definitely in the minority.

It seems the women have definitely got a stranglehold on this particular industry, but some just take it a little too far. I’m talking about ‘mumtrepreneurs’. Good god, just typing it makes me feel dirty.

These are the members of the cutesy, mumsy wishy-washy brigade, who want to exclude anyone who has so far failed to produce a tiny, screaming person from their innards.

Why make such a fuss about being a mum? It’s hardly an exclusive club. And you don’t see any movements founded by dads who also work.

It’s almost like they brandish the ‘mum’ badge to excuse their largely unspectacular work. Yes, their Disney rip-off beanbag looks like it was assembled by a thumbless lunatic in the dark, but it’s ok, hun, cos ur a gr8 mummy to ickle Wilson or Johnson or Fairie-Lil-Let-Tinkabell-Boo-Boo or whatever horrendous name you’ve saddled your poor offspring with.

I was recently tweeting Rutland-basedblogger Lisa Batty who, as far as I can discern from her name and her avatar, is a woman. She told me: “I run a beauty blog & was asked to contribute to another blog, I agreed but then they asked me to confirm I had kids, I said no and they then rejected me! But the article they wanted was about make-up.”


I get that, traditionally, the world of business has been male-dominated and it has been a long, hard struggle to get to the stage where women are even considered for top roles at major organisations. I get all that. I’m all for equality. I’m a feminist, I guess.

But I fail to see how the mum squad are helping, with their discrimination of non-parents, making women without kids feel excluded and inadequate and basically telling all men they’re of no interest.

I’m a dad. Laura’s not a mum. We both look after my daughter. Where’s the Facebook group for us? We don’t want one, of course, because we want our work to be recognised on its own merits, not because we need to lean on a child-shaped crutch.

I’d love to hear your thoughts (unless you’ve given yourself a middle name on Facebook that’s something like ‘Mumsy2MasonandKyesha’. Then I couldn’t care less, obviously…). 

Am I missing something? Am I just being a bit of a dick? Or do you agree? Does the mum mentality hold women back?

*By the way, in the coming weeks I’ll be blogging about why I hate the term ‘shabby chic’, miserable old grouch that I am.

**DISCLAIMER** All my views are my own and not necessarily shared by Laura, who is the real brains (and beauty) behind Reloved Vintage