Get Out Your Rulers Men, We are Measuring Our Wines
Despite the fact that it is women that tend to visit art museums and despite the fact it is predominantly women that tend to study art and art history in college, instead, “Over the centuries, as in most other areas, it’s mainly men who have glorified themselves by amassing large collections of valuable work.—Why?”
The exact same circumstances exist in the world of wine. While women tend to be the buyers of wine, it is predominantly men who amass the large, ostentatious collections of old, rare, collectible and expensive wines. Why?
The parallel art question is pursued and examined by Judith Dobrzynski in the Sunday New York Times yesterday in an essay entitled, “The Art of the Hunt”. The wine question is posed by me. Since I’m not averse to having others do the work for me, and since the two things—wine collecting and art collecting—are really one and the same, it behooved me to take to heart Ms. Dobrzynski’s findings.
“At its highest levels, (art collecting) is more like hunting than shopping….And who, by and large, are the hunters and the thrill-seekers of the world? Men. In traditional societies, men hunted to capture trophies and to win women as well as to provide food. They were in a competition; victory crowned them alpha males. It’s not hard to see that men today see art collecting as a competitive sport. They may not be able to sink shots like Tiger Woods, but owning the best Picasso on the market produces the same visible pride.”
The answer is probably, “Yes”. And furthermore, as Ms Dobrzynski suggests, it probably has something to do with inherited survival traits. Still, despite its ubiquity and its generally logical and reasonable nature, the evolutionary explanation for nearly all behavioral traits, including the tendency of men to be the hoarders of large art and wine collections, is getting a little boring.
So it is that men are the collectors in order to demonstrate what Dobrzynski calls their “Alpha Prowess”. But the author offers one final thought on this issue of men and art (wine) collecting before signing off:
“Gender parity in art collecting, as in so many areas, is a long way off”
The term “gender parity” is almost always used in the context of a situation in which women are denied some thing or condition as a result of sexism in our culture. Think “gender parity” in the realm of employment compensation or in the distribution of women and men in certain professions. Furthermore, achieving “gender parity” is often a goal or a social good as it is a sign that a culture or society has overcome the impact of a sexist attitude or institutional sexism.
So here is what I’m wondering, is it a social positive if women begin hoarding rare and collectible wines at the same rate as men?