Protest Art

1.  Find 2 examples of Rape Culture in the news or elsewhere. Analyze and Discuss. (Be sure to include links to websites/source material.)

The first article I came across regarding rape culture I found to be very interesting. It involves the idea to require rape warning on bottles of alcohol. The action of doing so would be very similar to that of cigarette packaging requiring the warning regarding cancer. However, the huge difference is one is stating a fact, and the other idea is promoting an atrocious cycle. This is because there is a widely accepted misconception that if a women gets too drunk, she is inviting anyone to sexually harass her. It is as if taking a drink entitles anyone to take advantage of your body. Furthering the absurdity of this argument instead of stating the scientific evidence on why women get drunk quicker than men and why it affects their body in a different way, Dr. Flegal would like to advertise the following phrase, “Female-specific risks are already well known and include violence, unwanted sex and pregnancy…” This statement is loaded with assumptions and opinionated language. It is completely bias towards a particular mindset. To point out how foolish this statement is the author of the article goes on to make some comparison statements which she feels are equal to the message being sent. These include, “WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to cry hysterically for two hours after you get an email from your mom informing you that your high school’s Latin program has been discontinued.” and “WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to think it’s okay to swim in a public fountain with a homeless man you just met.” The point that is trying to made here is rapist cause rape, not drinking alcohol. This just goes to show how embedded in our culture this idea of “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape”.


The second article I found relating to rape culture is about a bowling company using rape as a joke to promote their company. A popular bowling alley in New York recently coined the slogan “Getting jumped in an alley has never been this fun”. The image that was displayed with this shows a women jumping over a guy. Her body language is moderately sexual with her exposed legs mounting him and a fair amount a cleavage. It is clear the viewer is going to initially think of the sexual implications of the advertisement rather than the connection to bowling. It so astonishing how in our culture it is so widely accepted that making a pun on getting raped in an alley is humorous. Ironically, the rape statistic has gone up 4% in the last year in New York City where this add was posted. This goes to show how this advertisement is doing nothing but provoke that statistic from rising more. This is just one of many example of how rape culture is so deeply embedded in our society and how many accept it.

2. Choose 2 pieces of artwork that can be categorized as Protest Art—one about violence against women, and one about racism. Analyze and Discuss.  (Choose pieces that you find particularly powerful. You may draw from our books or elsewhere, but please do not use pieces already featured in lecture.)


Something that I would consider to fall under the category of Protest Art is the Pink Bloque. This is a group of radical feminist dancer that was founded in Chicago and is now throughout the country. They use dance to send a political message to the rest of society. Their goal is to challenge the white supremacist patriarchal society in which we live in. They conduct protest in the public street incorporating dance to get the attention of more people in hope of better spreading their message regarding equal rights and the severity of violence against women. During one protest women had signs on their backs stating, “Shake your ass for equal access”. Their fun and interactive way of protesting has caught the eye of many making them a very popular group of the feminist movement. They protest at a variety of events including ones such as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I find their optimistic and spirited attitude towards the situation to be extremely motivating. This groups unique approach to the situation gives a better platform to the overall message behind the movement.


Another piece of Protest Art in regards to racial controversy I find to be extremely powerful is Asco’s First Supper. Asco is a collective group of latino artist that address the social issues they experience living is East Los Angeles. I’m particularly drawn to this because this is where I grew up as well as being half Latina myself. The word “Asco” itself derives from the Spanish word “vomit”. Their goal as a collective is to respond to the socio-economic and political conditions surrounding the chicano community of East Los Angeles.  In this particular art work Asco set up a dinner table on Whittier Boulevard, the same place where three years earlier police opened fire on an assembled crowd. They conducted the feat to encourage people to act publicly about their frustration with the community actions that they watch take place. In particular, it was a statement of contest towards the police brutality in the barrio. The guiding force in their artwork was the address the stereotypes that are put upon them by society. They use these stereotypes to their advantage and twist them to form a compelling point that affects many.

3.  Do the Culture Shock “WEB ACTIVITY” about Kara Walker’s art: After completing the web activity and the assigned reading on Kara Walker’) s art, respond to issues raised in the web activity and discuss your thoughts on Kara Walker’ s work.

As I have previously mentioned in the about section of my blog I am extremely intrigued when discussing the topic of women of color or bi-racial women. Thus, Kara Walker’s artwork takes a particular interest to me. I think art that has a controversial racial aspect to it as well as another component are some of the most powerful artworks. I find her use of the silhouette to be extremely powerful. It gives this idea of how society has for many years perceived black people as nothing more than just the silhouette. It simplifies them to the most basic degree. It also leaves no variation for skin color. Kara Walker also discusses the topic of black caricatures in her artwork which I’m highly fascinated with. The idea that such things existed in our history, and at that were praised is completely astonishing to me. I find it so ironic that her artwork is considered controversial when things such as minstrel shows were highly popular at one time. How is it when someone tries to bring light to a topic that was so horrible in an informative and constructive way that she is the one criticized most. I think the Kara Walker activity is also quite amusing in the sense that there is this obligation that is felt to ask the public how comfortable they are with such artwork. A piece of art is a person’s expression and personal liberation. For someone who is completely detached from the situation to have control whether an artist is able to produce art is completely absurd. Walker isn’t creating some controversial rumor but rather is bringing to the surface an issue that has been pushed under the rug for many years. If people are scared to face the reality of the world we live in, than that is there fault. If the art people like Walker create make people uncomfortable than they are free to look the other way. However, that one person’s opinion in no shape or form should dictate the freedom to express one feeling and emotions on a topic they’re passionate about.


2 thoughts on “Protest Art

  1. I adore the last sentence you used in your rape culture paragraph, “this just goes to show how embedded in our culture this idea of “don’t get raped” instead of “don’t rape””. It is so true that preventing rape and sexual assault always falls in the hands of women! Although I know these tips are for safety such as “never walk alone at night”, “carry pepper spray” and other safety measures, these ideas never address the people who are attacking the victims. Never do we hear an ad or media that promotes taking a look at how our society views rape and how it promotes it. Nor do we require college age kids to take a class on learning how to respect a woman and learn that no means no, and the clothes women wear and the alcohol they drink are not invitations for rape. Preventing rape should be in the hands of all people, not just women.

    • Yeah, I’m glad you caught that because that is something that really bothers me. Obviously statistic are helpful and what not to show how rape culture affects our society but they also really bother me because its basically telling women look how many women get raped, don’t become part of that statistic. Or if you drink you are putting yourself in venerability to rape. It is never don’t rape, you never see that slogan posted anywhere. I don’t understand how something so simple and obvious can’t be passed along.

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