The well-known song by Connie Francis, “Where The Boys Are” conjures a myriad of emotions for those who hear it. Whether reminiscent of a sock hop, a quiet night at home, or passing the time with friends, the song endures because of its broad appeal.
The first stanza seems apropos following Memorial Day and looking forward to Father’s Day.
Where the boys are, someone waits for me
A smilin’ face, a warm embrace, two arms to hold me tenderly
Where the boys are, my true love will be
He’s walkin’ down some street in town and I know he’s lookin’ there for me
For many, the anticipation of a warm embrace arouses feelings of comfort and hope. Quilters share comfort and hope in the warm embrace of the quilts we make. We give the physical embrace, emotional comfort, and spiritual hope to others. We share in that treasure of making and giving the quilts to others.
With Memorial Day this weekend, and reflecting on men and fathers, these same lyrics sparked a connection for me. Where are the men in quilting? Sure, we all know of accomplished male quilters. We might even know a man who quilts; or you might be the man himself… Yet, as a rule, men seem to be viewed as an oddity in the world of quilting.
Then, I stumbled across the Introduction from Joe Cunningham’s book, Men and the Art of Quiltmaking. He had this to say:
When quilting took hold in the American colonies, it became a strictly female pursuit. There were always the odd few men who took it up, and no doubt more husbands helped their wives than we will ever know, but the DNA of American quilts was encoded as “female.” In the same way, American quilts came to be defined as gifts, a quality that also tended to ward off male involvement.
Hmm… With my busy schedule, work full time, and father to five children, I try to find time, and sometimes do, make quilts. Yet, this statement piqued my interest. Just like putting the binding on a quilt—not the most fun, but the rewarding satisfaction of finishing is worth it—I was compelled to keep going.