I dare to ask a question because it troubles me. I would like to know the experience of others how often men reply to female art. My experience is that 62%of the women react, only 20% of the men give a sign.Is is normal or are my mail arts so bad, that's the question. Thank you for giving me a feed-back.Sa Mue

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Hi Sa Mue, first I want to assure you that no one is rejecting your work. I believe this completely in terms of the mail art community (even though - of course - I can ultimately only speak for myself). The shared values of the m-a community involve acceptance & mutual support. So please do not be self-conscious

Otherwise with mail art "there are no rules." I believe we should keep it that way in terms of how we interact with each other sending & receiving. Ruud Janssen has made many good points, saying there are "unwrriten rules." I suppose there are, especially involving behavior. "Mail art is a gift we give without expectation" (a paraphrase). I think these are very useful. You don't know what's going on in the life of a m-a art friend. Maybe they become very busy, get sick, have a demanding job, you know? It has nothing to do with you.

In terms of response rate among men & women: I suspect it varies among each artist and his/her network. I suppose you could study it, but it would be hard to generalize & be accurate. It might be very different for someone who has a different network. Some people respond religiously. Unfortunately at IUOMA, I see people trying to respond to all & they become overwhelmed, often causing them to leave the network. So I don't believe m-a should cause anxiety or anything (much) be a requirement. It should be fun. Some people spend a lot of time on a single piece they make just for you. Others crank out work at an astonishing rate & send it to hundreds of people. I believe we must allow our friends to do what they do & be supportive. If you get involved in the network - believe me - your mailbox will never be empty after people have gotten to know you, which is a function of time and presence.

I find the gender dynamics of the current network to be fascinating, but I don't see any huge gaps in how people relate to each other (IMHO). I remember the network in earlier times. Even though it has always been egalitarian, there were primarily men. Sometimes the network seemed like a boys' club. The influx of women (no pun intended) has been very, very, very positive. It has helped renew the network, IMHO. But I don't see any real divides in terms of genders relating to each other.

Glad that I caught sight of this discussion...it's an interesting question, Sa Mue, and I think De Villo S. answered it perfectly. The world—and the world of mail art—is filled with the most amazing and astonishing variety of diverse people. And everyone has their own preferential level of online presence and engagement. Those levels fluctuate for any number of reasons...but often because people's lives have their own flows and ebbs and times when leisure activities can take precedence and times when work or personal issues supersede the leisure of mail art. As DVS indicated, sometimes the flow of received mail is just more than people can justifiably post in blogs or by posting pictures...and sometimes even a returned mail piece takes longer than you'd expect. My advice is to let go of or release judgmental expectations, because every individual has their own lives and particular stories that dictate what kind of time commitment is possible.

I will tell you one of my own stories—I joined IUOMA specifically because gender distinctions and expectations based on gender were NOT an issue, and it has been wonderful here. I had previously tried exchanging mailart on another site and quickly left because I experienced gender discrimination. As someone who has worked in the human rights non-profit industry specifically involved with issues of gender- and sexuality discrimination, I am probably somewhat sensitive. But particularly in a crazy world like the one we are experiencing now, with the threat of nationalist and racist and xenophobic tendencies... a forum that promotes and celebrates the connection of international friendship and collaboration—without prejudicial distinction—is a beautiful, beautiful thing...

...But not, I hope, something that causes anyone to find or make distinctions between masculine and feminine or gender-attributed differences when exploring the possibility of new friendships. If the whole idea is to explore cultural exchange with "others,"...if the whole idea of communicating with the stranger is to learn something more about the diverse experiences of people living foreign lives compared to your own... then don't let yourself or your artistic connections be compromised by "differences" of any kind.

I happen to know that you are a traveler, Sa Mue. And that very fact tells me that you are an open person to exploring diversity and cultural difference and the multitudinous facets of human beings. I know this because I recently received a mail art piece from you, and I was ecstatic to read your own story of traveling to a foreign place and the adventure you experienced there, so I know you are open to such things. I am in the process of collecting ephemera and creating my correspondence response to you. But it would be disappointing to think that I were judged on my response time as "typically male"... as opposed to "genuinely human." As DVS notes, "it should be fun." ...not a source of anxiety.

The thoughtful replies of DVS and Thom strike me as true on many levels. Like Thom I've experienced at IUOMA freedom from arbitrary or meaningless judgment. I generally don't think of mail art here as judged or categorized by gender or any other pigeonhole, which is one of the reasons I love it. I discovered IUOMA six years ago, and your question hadn't occurred to me in all that time, but just now I looked back at my log of received mail art. Without counting in any detail, just scanning the log, it looks roughly 50-50 men and women responding over time (definitely not leaning heavily one way or the other), but really, I look at mail-art friends as individual human beings, not so much as what gender they are or any other category. It just doesn't occur to me, because the richness of original mail art, from the world over, is more immediate (to me) than that. Which feels like great fortune.

Sa Mue, you sound like you might be a bit disappointed, or at least surprised, by your experience so far. I hope the possibilities and real-life excitement of mail art make up for that in time. I am sending you mail art and hoping you stick around here. Thanks for your interesting and thought-provoking question.


Thank you Nancy that you took the time to answer me. I think I was a bit disappointed of the absence of reactions, but of course I will continue.

I am thirsty for female art. Sometimes it gives me a kick or drives shivers. And it must! we definitely need more female art in everywhere! Mother goddess :)

I think you have been unlucky in your choices of men you send mail art to. I think my percentage of male and females responding by sending something in return is near 90% or higher. I think the mail art I send out is pretty average, I am certainly not the brightest talent in this big pool. And, are you looking for men to react with Mail Art they send you or just a note of appreciation in this blog. That is maybe less likely to happen than getting a response in Mail Art, I think. Or sometimes their response may just be difficult of locate on the site! 

How is the current percentage?  Did your posting change anything?




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