Able bodies: quarrels about gender and competence in the Swedish painting industry
Paper short abstract:
This paper deals with how professionalism is gendered in the painting industry in Sweden. The male body is normative for the profession, women as seen as the other painter. Today this is challenged by a quarrel between different forms of masculinity and femininity, as ruling norms of professional ability.
Paper long abstract:
This paper deals with how professionalism is gendered and challenged in the painting industry in Sweden. A Swedish painter is still expected to be a man, but today the traditional masculinization of the job has become a huge problem. The number of women under painting education has increased rapidly, and a large amount of male painters will soon retire. But women can't find their place. Integrating and keeping women has become a severe problem for the trade - they don't know how to reproduce their workforce. The male body is normative for the professional painter, resulting in female competences coded as complementary; women are positioned as the other painter. In-depth interviews give access to how internal definitions and understandings of painter professionalism are related to hegemonic masculinity (Connell 2005), and shows how the professional identity is challenged, and at the core for an on-going redefinition. During the process painters as well as managers are constructing the professional painter by describing "the competent body". Negotiations of the body affect the definitions of positions, competences and divisions of tasks in the profession, clearly articulated and performed by gender (i.e. Butler 1999, Skeggs 2004). Today this transformative phase make the profession fragile and insecure. Specific attributes, earlier fixed and taken for granted as male, based on distinct discourses of masculinity, has now escalated to a quarrel between different forms of masculinity and femininity. If the gender of the future painter will be insignificant is an open question.
Gendered realities: old issues, new heritage