Fooling Garwulf
Women in Magic and "The Invisi-Ball Thread"

Robert B. Marks | 14 Jul 2015 15:00
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All three face a number of challenges in their magic careers, none of which are based on their gender. Their interactions with their male peers are generally professional, and they are treated as equals. If anything, magic today is highly supportive of female magicians, with just about everybody in the field wanting more women involved.

The only institutional sexism that was related to me, in fact, came from outside of the magic community. Both Christen Gerhart and Misty Lee described situations where they had encountered sexism from Hollywood casting directors, but even this faded when somebody wanted to cast a magician, rather than a walk-on role who needed to fit into a particular dress. And while there may still be sexist audience members who are surprised to see a female magician headlining, as Lee explained, they're there to see magic, and that is what they care about - in a decade and a half of performing, nobody has ever expressed disappointment to her that they're seeing a woman rather than a man. Likewise, in Suzanne Sinclair's three decades of performing, the only thing she has ever seen the audience care about was whether they were entertained.

This doesn't mean that there aren't sexist magicians. The FFFF convention - a prestigious, invitation-only magic convention with a waiting list that is years long - recently implemented severe penalties for anybody caught making misogynist jokes or remarks (they lose their invitation). But, this sexism or misogyny is far from institutional - there may be individuals or small cliques who are sexist or misogynist, but the field as a whole cares about the magic, not the gender of the performers. Suzanne commented that the number of sexist or misogynist magicians she has encountered was proportionally lower than the number of sexists and misogynists she has encountered elsewhere. The image of the sexist world of magic is at least one generation out of date and counting.

There is still the question of how to recruit more women into magic, and this is something that a lot of magicians, both male and female, are trying to figure out. But, this may very well be the last gender-based challenge left, if it hasn't already been erased by the large influx of women coming into magic right now. In fact, if there is one takeaway I had from talking to active professional female magicians, it was that the time has come to stop talking about the challenges faced by female magicians, and just talk about magicians.

Author's Note: Special thanks to Christen Gerhart, Misty Lee, and Suzanne Sinclair. Any errors are my own.

Author's Other Note: Steven Brundage has done an AMA on Reddit, where he talks about his cube trick that fooled Penn and Teller last week, and it is very worth reading.

Author's Other Other Note: Since this is a feature about magic, we must ask for discretion when it comes to discussing methods in the forums. For the sake of preserving the mystery for those who do not want to know how the tricks are done, as well as to avoid accidentally exposing the hard work of some very talented magicians, please avoid revealing methods in the discussion threads; if you must talk about a method in a way that might expose it, please use spoiler tags.


Robert B. Marks is the author of the new and revived Garwulf's Corner on The Escapist, as well as Diablo: Demonsbane, The EverQuest Companion, the original Garwulf's Corner, and the co-author of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Agora. His current fiction project is The Eternity Quartet, with Ed Greenwood. His Livejournal can be found here, his Patreon-based magazine experiment, Garwulf Speaks, can be found here, and he is now on Facebook. He can be reached by email at garwulf at escapistmag.com.

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