For those unfamiliar with the subject line for this blog it is an expression common in the southern states here in the good ‘ol U. S. of A. It is meant to convey a certain type of position in which certain mindsets believe women should find themselves. It is meant to convey that a woman’s place is… in the home. Having and rearing children.
Not very 2010, is it? (hell…. it’s never been particularly progressive, eh?)
But this expression popped into my head when I last visited Cox Arboretum and found myself surrounded almost exclusively by women brandishing cameras. Seriously…. there were three of us males and easily twenty-five or more women with cameras in hand, snapping away merrily at all sorts of things. And it got me to thinking “When did this happen?”
See….. growing up in the 60’s and 70’s I saw that snapping pictures was clearly the domain of men. Fathers took pictures of the family. Men took pictures for advertising. Men took pictures for publications. Were there women who snapped pics? Of course, but they were, by and large, far and few between. But this is clearly no longer the case. ‘Bout time too. So I pondered why it is that women can be found behind so many cameras these days. For my thinking there are two primary reasons: the Women’s Movement (primarily of the 70’s) and the introduction of the digital camera.
Clearly the Women’s Movement did much to empower women to believe (and subsequently to act) they could do and be anything that men were. It unshackled them from the position of home-maker and child-rearer and brought them forward to being a true partner in marriage and business. Is there still room for improvement? Of course. But most certainly things have changed dramatically over the past 40-years. Today, being a June Cleaver is a choice and not an expectation (except in certain households which maintain a certain religious viewpoint of the position of women in the household).
But what of digital photography?
Now please do not think this sexist, but I firmly believe that women of 30, 40 and more years ago would have eschewed film-based, 35mm SLR photography as being too “complicated” for them. It was the doman of men because it was “technical” and that wasn’t the arena for women. Of course, this sort of thinking was firmly established in their collective mindset because our culture had created distinctly separate roles for men and women and matters “technical” were the doman of men. It wasn’t correct, but it is what we had.
So mix in the Women’s Movement and we still didn’t see an explosive growth in women behind the camera. For whatever reason it appeared to remain the domain of men by and large. But along came digital and more importantly inexpensive digital. I’m thinking the tiny point-n-shoots and more recently the entry-level dSLRs (like the Rebel series from Canon or the D3000 and D5000 from Nikon). And regardless of the fact there were available so many fully automatic film-based cameras it just seemed that women didn’t make the leap to being behind the camera until digital became commonplace.
Maybe it is because folks assume (erroneously) that digital is “easier” than film when both cameras are set to full automatic? I don’t know. But I can’t help but think there is a very direct connection between the introduction of reasonably priced digital cameras and the proliferation of women behind the camera. For whatever reason, in the collective mind-set of women, digital is a form of photography that could be embraced, while film was something left to others.
A quick review of my Blog Roll here on WordPress reveals that eight of the eleven blogs I follow, which are completely or mostly photography related, belong to women. I think that’s awesome. A clear indication that things are markedly different today than when I grew up.
So… am I missing something? Am I completely off-base? Have I lost my mind for even bringing up such a subject? I’d love to hear from the women out there.