Feminist Art Paper Topic Proposal

For my paper I’m interested in researching the societal critique of women’s body. I’ve always found the societal standards that have been created to be so interesting and how it effects the women’s mindset. For many it is so engraved it is almost as if it is something biological. From this mindset it is amazing to think how it has taken form in so many different parts of culture. Daily advertisements, Tv shows, and just everyday conversation. I would also like to focus in on the sexualization of women’s bodies. Particularly, taking a side note and talking about the exoticfication of women of color’s bodies. Artists that I find interesting and relate to this topic include Jenny Saville, Barbara Kruger, Hannah Wilke, and others. Feminist Theory terms would include the male gaze, gender preformativity, and the female body. This is an issue I’ve always felt I personally relate with and is where I feel most strongly in the vast variety of feminist topics. Hence, I’m excited to learn about more artist who were passionate enough about this subject as well to create art that inform the masses.

On Goddesses and Os

1. Why did Monica Sjöö’s  “God Giving Birth” (1968) cause such a public scandal?  Explain and Respond.

Sjöö’s art piece caused such a scandal because it challenged the norm. Any type of artwork that does that always causes some sort of controversy. I think that is so ironic because art that follows what everyone already knows and finds familiar is so mundane and boring. If you can accept an artwork for what is on the surface, than the viewer will simply move on and forget about it. Sjöö portrays God first as a female, which contradicts the common assumption that God is a male. Many claim they see God as neither sex, yet typically have a male imaginary image in their head. In addition, she calls the figure God not Goddess. Goddess would somehow justify the artwork, giving it these less important qualities. The same applies in many aspects of our society, like the phrase “female doctor” instead of just doctor. It somehow changes the image of the person and the certain connotations that go along with those words. Next, the image doesn’t portray a beautiful white women, but a dark unhappy figure. If it where a blonde women cheerfully giving birth, than somehow the oppionion of the piece would drastically change. In societies eyes at least it would be an “attractive” piece to look at. Hence, with my previously explained opinion on controversial art, I really like Sjöö’s painting. She isn’t afraid to voice her opinion on how she sees the world and condemn her beliefs based off of what society would consider “accurate”.

2. Do you agree with Sjöö that “art is a revolutionary act”?  Explain.

As I previously discussed I think Art is an extremely powerful tool. Those who use it to express their individual opinion are sometimes criticized because their individual approach doesn’t meet the social norm. However, I find pieces like this to be the best kind because they provoke change, which can sometimes be a revolutionary change. Artist who are afraid to voice their opinion in art due to fear of the other’s eyes is ridiculous. Goddess art is just one example of the many ways art has revolutionized the world. Having the courage to show or produce artwork that has been given the impression to be shameful is an extraordinary power to posses. Art is an highly effective way to send a message to society about one’s perceptive reguarding social issues. A straightforward example of this is the feminist art movement. Women were able to bring attention to an issue they felt they faced in society through art. In result, this act of using art as a tool has drastically changed the perspective of women throughout the years. Thus, it is seen how art can give a voice to very powerful subject matters. Personally, growing up I always had a hard time expressing myself to others or trying to verbally convey thoughts and emotions I experienced. The way I was able to express myself was visually through art. It was something that revolutionized my voice, freeing me from the standards placed upon me.

3. What is the “myth of the vaginal orgasm”? Explain and Respond.

The myth is that vaginal orgasm doesn’t exist, but is rather a clitoral orgasm. The clitoris is the male equivalent of the penis, thus it doesn’t make sense to call it a vaginal orgasm. Men reach orgasm simple by the friction of their penis experienced during sex. However, women can’t commonly reach orgasm during sex the way penetration affects men. Thus, the myth has been created that women are sexually pleasured in the same way men are which is completely untrue. Hence, women must redefine the “normal” expectation for orgasm to achieve the same pleasure. The term “frigid” has been coined for those women who can’t achieve this mythical “vaginal orgasm”. In the past, Freud equivalated this incapability to women solely being envious of men. His theory was not based on any type of knowledge of women anatomy but Freud’s bias opinion that women are inferior to men. This myth is still carried out in today’s society because of many societal defined concepts such as the penis being the epitome of masculinity. It is hard to break the socialy defined rules of sex that exist in today’s society. There are certain expectations that women are meant to hold when the act in itself is something natural, not created. It is absurd to think that a women isn’t doing something “right” and has to “fake it” in what is a natural tendency of human nature. It bothers me that having sex is almost perceived as this event that is meant for men and women only play a role in this exciting experience. I think this is a major topic of discussion that needs to be brought to the attention to the majority of people.

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”.

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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.)

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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.

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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:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/provocations/kara/warning.html 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.

Thoughts on Pop Culture and the Beauty Myth

1. In lieu of watching the film “Killing Us Softly 4” in class, I am asking you to watch it on your own as part of your homework and to help you with the assignment. After watching this film, browse some beauty/fashion magazines magazine for women &/or men (e.g., Cosmo, Glamour, Vogue, Maxim; GQ). Provide an analysis of 2 of its advertisements. Discuss and critically analyze its representation of women/gender relations utilizing feminist theory from class materials.

IMG_2983The first advertisement I chose to analyze is for Vigoss Jeans. The women is depicted laying on her side facing the camera with her legs fully spread open. The first thing that catches my eye in the photograph is the fact she is wearing a jacket with no shirt. This tactic is used as a sense of sex appeal. This kind of alluring mysterious idea of what is on under what a person is wearing. There is this quintessential fantasy of the women in a trench coat with nothing under. This advertisement is taking their own approach in regards to that fantasy. The next striking thing is the pose itself. The model’s facial expression is this gazing blank stare into the camera. She looks lifeless, almost like this doll you can easily control. In addition, The model’s legs are spread wide open implying a fairly obvious sexual connotation. It is almost as if there is a speech bubble above the model’s head saying, “I’m willing and ready to have sex with you”. To further the meaning of both her facial expression and body language she has rope around her ankles, loosely indicating she is caught in them. The implications of being submissive could not be more blunt than rope around the model leaving her completely passive. In addition, the rope tying of a female body is a common icon of BDSM Porn. I’m not completely against the porn industry as I think people like Sasha Grey make amazing points on the liberation it can serve for some women. However, BDSM porn is my opinion is awful with its degrading depiction of tying women up and letting men have sex with them. So in the end, the viewer isn’t thinking about this new jeans they want to buy but rather how sexy and alluring the model is.

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The second image I choose to analyze is also striking but in a very different way. This image isn’t exploiting women so much sexually as it is mentally. The women here is posed in a way that is unnatural to sit. Her chest is pushed outwards and her bum is pushed back so it creates this illusion that both these parts of her body are larger. It also creates this slimming and curvy body shape. Next, the expression on her face is as if she has just been caught in the act of doing something. She looks almost surprised or embarrassed she’s been caught. The reason for this facial expression is she is shown eating. On a deeper level, this advertisement is implying that a women should be embarrassed if found eating, like it is some big secret. However, there is this metaphor going on here since the women isn’t really eating food, but jewelry. Thus, the message becomes if one doesn’t eat they will be at the same status as these high fashion, jewelry encrusted models.

2. After reading Zeisler’s “Pop and Circumstance: Why Pop Culture Matters,” answer the following 2 questions: What’s your worst memory of women in pop culture? Explain. What’s your favorite pop culture moment ever? Explain.

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My worst memory in Pop culture is the Axe commercials. They bother me so much. They are constantly coming up with new advertisements where women are depicted as creatures that have no mind of their own and fall into a man’s spell the minute they smell their scent. I remember a more recent one where there was a female track race and one of the athletes was so star stuck by the referry that she didn’t move. It completely takes away the power of this female athlete. It is implying that she would so easily give up all her training just by looking at an attractive male. Other Axe commercials show women as native untamed tribal like people. However their is a constant pattern of women just falling all over men when they wear axe. In addition, I looked up an advertisement to back up these points and found probably the worst one I’ve seen yet. It is in a foreign language and I don’t have to even understand it to comprehend the universal theme. The implication is clearly if a man wears axe he has a free pass to have sex with a women. I seriously can’t grasp how Axe is able to get away with such blatantly horrible campaigns. This particular add is perfect example with how I’m able to understand it without even knowing what language it is in. Even worse is how successful the company is. So many men across the world buy axe, most likely because they are persuaded by their degrading advertisements.

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On the flip side, my favorite moment in pop culture has to be M.I.A’s song Bad Girls. I’m obsessed with her and this song. I think she is one of my biggest role models in life for multiple reasons. First she is female rapper, it take a lot of commitment to become as successful as she is the rap world for females. Second, she raps about female empowerment in this song, as well as many others. She’s the embodiment of a confident women in my opinion. Furthering that she’s a women of color, Sri Lankan to be specific. This culture particularly covers up their women and shames them for their appearance and she is the complete opposite of that. The last reason I admire her is because she is a mother and wife. She has not let the titles of being a mother and wife affect her goals what so ever. She sings about things that empower her and are a clear depiction of who she is. If I decide one day to be a wife and mother, I want to replicate the lifestyle she leads. The song Bad Girls to me is a great moment in pop culture with how successful it was. It is just as catchy as songs like “Blurred Lines”, yet talks about a subject that is empowering instead of degrading.

3. According to Naomi Wolf, what is the Beauty Myth? (be specific) What does it do? Do you agree with Naomi Wolf’s general argument? Explain.

The Beauty Myth is this concept that almost every single woman in the world has engraved in this head. It is this universal idea of what it means to be beautiful. It is extremely narrow minded and leaves a very minimal amount of room for diversity. However, it is important to note that like in the title, it is a myth. Not every women posses the same generic description of beauty. It is a horrible cycle because it degrades women who don’t fit the stereotype. I found Wolf’s argument about women’s priorities to be very interesting. She discusses how even though many women have become increasing successful in the world over the past few years, their mental mindset has almost taken a huge step backwards. Most women answer that their biggest goal is to loose at least ten pounds. We are constantly consumed with our physical appearance. I found this to be an extremely influential topic because even though I’m a very motivated and confident female myself, I constantly have on my mind how I’d love to loose five pounds. The Beauty myth almost hypnotizes people because many don’t even realize how influential it is on their lives. I think Wolf’s article shows how it even affects the powerful women in society. I completely agree with Wolf’s argument and I think that it is ridiculously scary. The main reason it is so damaging is the idea of beauty is constructed by the man’s eye. It creates this idea that a women’s purpose is to serve a man and live up to his standards. Sometimes for people that can become what their life is completely consumed by. For me personally, I can say that I’m not affected by it to a large degree. I have the ambitions of spending my life achieving the goals I set for myself following my own rules, and any man who respects that and wants to live besides me is welcome to. But even then I still occasionally beat myself up that i’m not gonna achieve the goals I want to because of a certain appearance.

Feminist Art and Womenhouse

1. Based on your recent readings, what, according to Judy Chicago, is “central core imagery”?

For Judy Chicago centeral core imagery is the unique creativity that personally belongs to an artist. It is the ability to let go of the restrictions that society places on an artist and instead gives freedom. Judy created this concept after a long time of restricting herself. She dicusses how in Los Angeles she would of never been taken seriously if she let her true artistic traits show. Thus, she trained herself to create art that produced a certain and specific outcome. She spent a long time trying to display her central idea though a hidden language or code of some sort. When she started to let her true self produce artwork she was frightened. She had the notion so engraved in her head that female art was ugly and wrong that she couldn’t accept her natural creativity. She realized that many women stop here and don’t fight through this challenge. However, the issue at matter is not about any type of talent. The true success in art is being able to acknowledge one’s own creative voice and the great deal of power it comes with. For so long it had been engraved in women’s heads that female power is some type of destructive force. However, here Judy Chicago is giving new meaning to female power through this centeral core image. She is shedding light on how beautiful and important it is for female artist to let their real intent shine in their artwork. For her she achieved that level of confidence through the support of other women artist who shared similar experiences. To get more specific, Judy Chicago’s goal was to take back to women’s body. She wanted to exert female sexuality in positive and powerful way. Her intended method was to reverse the devaluation that has been created by the patriarchal society. This was the core thought, to present the power of the vagina and womanhood.

2. What is the critique of essentialism often applied to 1970s feminist artists? (Briefly summarize the problem of “essentialism”) 

The major critique of the feminist artist during the 1970’s was that the category of women art seemed to be very confining to the same subject matter. However, artists like Judy Chicago had a contrasting view and found these these traits to be liberating. She wanted to transform this negative conotation that critics gave in regards to the women anatomy into something positive. This is the problem with essentialism, all the negative connotation that fuels it can easily be reinvented into a positive rebuttal. For example, the word cunt is used by men to alienate women by making them feel like lesser human beings. However, feminist have taken in upon themselves to reclaim what was once a derogatory term into something that should be celebrated. The root argument in fighting essentialism is celebrating the female body and its biological powers. Another issue is it no where says the patriarchal male society is right. The terms and traits that they have put upon women aren’t some sort of magical truth. After all this, it should be surprising that in the 1970’s women started to fight back. With how illogical the reasoning behind essentialism it is only reasonable the women would get sick about hearing lies about their biological features. Hence, the only thing to do is rebel and take these terms and reinvent them into something motivating and liberating.

3. According to Norma Broude and Mary Garrard’s introductory chapter in The Power of Feminist Art (p.10-29), it is important to differentiate between biological essentialism, cultural essentialism, and political essentialism. Why? How can this help expand our appreciation of feminist artists? To illustrate the answer, choose one piece of well-known Seventies Feminist Art and apply three different readings: biologically-essentialist, culturally-essentialist, and politically-essentialist.

Feminists Norma Broude and Mary Garrard take a unique approach to discuss the misconceptions about essentialism. They note how crucial it is to separate the three different types of essentialism. When looking at feminist art of the 1970’s people often generalize essentialism into the most common category of biological essentialism. It is an easy target for some to say women are different or lesser due to the obvious notion of a different genetic makeup. Thus, since all women are biologically the same, essentialism claims that all their art will follow the same pattern and nothing unique can be produced. However, the point being made here is that it is in whoever’s best decision to rather consider cultural and political essentialism instead. This is because these two give a better grasp on what feminist art is about rather than the close-mindedness of biological essentialism fallacies.

Cultural essentialism has played a huge role in the history of feminism which sometimes is overlooked by that of biological essentialism. It is better known as the socially constructed meaning of femininity. It seems that cultural essentialism has not took a back seat in history as it is just as prevalent today a it was in the 1970’s. Society is constantly engraving it into women’s head that they have to fit this specially constructed role. It gets rid of any individuality among women as they all compete with one another to fit this specific mold. However, political essentialism claims to have the ability to solve the problems that cultural essentialism proposes. This is where value is added to popular icons used in feminist art work. In other words, this enables essentialism from causing the problem of the negative connotation of female art.

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An art piece of the 1970’s that exemplifies this is Miss Chicago and the California Girls. It is composed of the feminist art students of Fresno State.  Right from the first glance it is clear that this piece is making a great deal of social commentary. Looking first at biological essentialism it is seen that each artist photographed brings their own flare to the poster. They portrayed themselves in “costume images” giving individual titles to themselves such as Whore, Bride, and Victorian Lady. Each of these titles were hand picked to show the individual perspective each women artist has, not some confined limit set by genetics. Cultural essentialism is the most prominent aspect in this piece. The ensemble choice of combat boots, bikinis, and sleazy makeup makes that clear. The purpose of doing so is to invert the images of women that everyone grows up with. For ages, young girls have grown up with the idea of beauty pageants. Thus, this poster is displaying that in a parodical manner in which the stereotypical women is being vastly exaggerated. With this the political essentialism is shown by taking typical icons of femininity such as being fashion obsessed, adornment, body shaping, and seduction and turning them into empowering aspects of the art work. They have fun with these frivolous terms and turn them into a statement that they strongly believe in.

4. Drawing from “The Feminist Art Programs at Fresno and CalArts, 1970-1975” by Faith Wilding (PFA, 32-47) and “Womanhouse” by Arlene Raven (PFA , 48-65), discuss Womanhouse (what/when/where/who/why)? What methods were utilized to generate content for Womanhouse? Choose 3 works from Womanhouse, 3 different artists. For each, address: How is the work “feminist”? How offering a critique of ambient sexist culture? What is the specific subject of critique? How different from other representations of women? 

Womanhouse was not your ordinary art installation. During a single month in 1972, twenty one feminist art students from Cal Arts put on a collaborative art exhibition in a residential home in Hollywood. The basis for the project was to depict the every day housewife. These art students were directed by none other than Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro. The house was lent to the women by the city and was destroyed as planned after they were done. Even though the Womanhouse was physically destroyed the impact its made on shaping peoples perspectives and legacy has left in remarkable. The methods that were used to generate the content of Womanhouse include the notion that there was yet to be a standard set to fully explain the struggle of a women artist. Womanhouse became that space for female artists to let out their expression and try to explain the struggle in a form that masses could understand. With the work that these students put in and the success of the show they were soon considered professional artists themselves.

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The Linen Closet by Sandy Orgel is one of the only two pieces of art in Womanhouse that shows a human figure. The artwork contain a nude female mannequin that is positioned in seperate shelves in a closet. Specifically, one shelf cuts right across her throat to depict this metaphorical suffocation. The broken apart body is supposed to convey this image that the women is trapped in the linen closet. All the linens here are neatly folded and perfectly pressed. So, in a metaphorical sense it is seen here that the artist is trying to imply that all a woman has is her flawless linens. Rather, she is trapped in this world or cycle that has been deemed a women’s natural duty. She has been pressured to take on this specific identity that most women eventually end up feeling trapped in. This suffocation ultimately leaves most women feeling hopeless and subconsciously contributing to the never ending cycle. The artists intent here is to critique the position of a woman as a homemaker. Orgel separates herself from other artists by having one of the mannequin’s legs out of the closet encouraging women in this position to take a step forward and liberate themselves. Rather, “Come out of the Closet”.

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Another image in the Womanhouse was Menstruation Bathroom by Judy Chicago. Here Judy Chicago takes on the task of making art about the taboo subject of a women’s period. What should be a celebrated moment in a girl’s life as she enters womanhood has rather become this moment of shame that girls are taught to hide. It is engraved in girls heads that the menstrual cycle is something dirty and digesting which needs to privately be taken care of. The way Chicago visually fights this notion is by depicting this cleanly pure white bathroom. The counter space is filled with a large variety of feminine hygiene products. However, to ruin this serene moment is a trashcan overflowing with used feminine hygiene products. Both the overwhelming amount of hygiene products and overflowing trashcan portray this message that a women’s period isn’t anything she should feel the need to hide. Chicago is rather embracing it as something all women go through in which it is foolish to make someone feel shameful for.

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A third image shown in Womanhouse is Leah’s Room by Karen LeCoq and Nancy Youdelman. During the time in which Womanhouse was open, a young women would sit at  the vanity and apply makeup. Slowly you would see the transformation from what this women looks like biologically into this culturally created “character”. This action leads the mind to begin to sterotype the night life of Leah by who she is making herself into. However, at the same time it is supposed to be the embodiment of all housewives of the time. This same that women are meant to feel with the natural process of aging. There is this notion that women are to hide their aging with makeup to the best of their ability so they can always look youthful and appealing to the man’s eye. This has thus created competition between women to be the winner of male attention. The intention of the artists of this piece was to show how foolish it is for women to feel intimidated by this male standard of beauty. No one would want to be the women portrayed repeatedly apply make up all day long. When it is done so repeatedly like that, the desperation of the action begins to appear.

Powerful Images

1. Response to Readings:  Bunting, Johnson, PFA, A&F 

I really enjoyed the first reading regarding the definition of feminism. I found it to be so relatable because I always struggle when it comes to calling myself a feminist or not. I never tend to label myself as one because I always have the skewed societal perception of what a feminist is in my mind. However, according to this article I would most definitely classify myself as a feminist. I also found the writing style of the article to be intriguing as well. I felt it spoke directly to the reader, calling them out on their misperceptions of the word. Saying that feminism is so much more as equal rights for both men and women, yet at the same time as simple as that sums it up so perfectly to me.

I found the second article just as interesting as the first. What really stuck out to me at the beginning was how it’s important to look at more than individual men and women but how society influences people to behave in a certain matter. I also found it interesting how the idea of patriarchy was broken down. Pointing out that it isn’t this detached subject that affects people, but rather something that we and individuals participate in. Based on how a person is individually influenced by society, they give back in a certain unique way. In addition, I was shocked how such derogatory words used in the patriarchal world were once positive. I would of never guessed that simple words like witch and crone were reclaimed during this day and age. Summarizing the whole article, I really appreciate how patriarchy is pointed out not to be an attack on men but a system which unfortunately exists in society. It not only one group of people who participate it in, but a entire mass of people from different walks of life.

The last two articles were not as intriguing to me as the first two, yet they were very informative on what role women play in the artistic world. I found the A&F explanation of how feminism and art relate helpful in which it clarified that not all women’s art is about feminism. The other reading went a lot more in depth about this topic. It discussed issues such as how much of influence gender has on an artists work. I also found the commentary on how women art from decade to decade changes drastically. Just like styles or art the feminist purpose essentially has varying movements. Its interesting how much things have changed in feminist art over the years and how in the future it is going to continue to evolve into something new.

2. Think of the word “woman.”  What does it make you think of?  What images spring to mind? Provide a statement about what the each image conveys to you.  What characteristics does “woman” possess in these representations?

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This year in studio art I was instructed to come up with a theme that I found interesting and crete a series of art work about it. The theme I chose was American Societal Isolation and Loneliness. One of the pieces that I created was the feet in heels. Iv’e always had this weird fascination with the concept of exotic dancers or strippers. I think there is something much more to it than the typical vulgar assumptions. A quote on the topic that I find extremely interesting is “ What one person sees as degrading and disgusting and bad for women might make some women feel empowered and beautiful and strong”. Thus, I chose the image on the right as one of my representations of what is woman is. I feel this way because anyone who is empowered by such an occupation and can deal with the stereotypes and the isolation that in pushed upon themby society is an amazing soul to me. I think the cherubs that are added in the photo contribute to this idea in which they are commonly used in nude romantic art of the past. I feel like it almost turns this typically acclaimed vulgar art of exotic dancing into something that was once accepted by the public eye.

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The second image I think of when I hear the word “woman” is strong. Something that makes me proud to be a female in the inner strength I think most women posses. This is because without the upper hang men get, women have to do twice the work to achieve the same amount of success. I think the image on the above is a great metaphor for the inner strength and willpower I believe women posses. I also think this image is great because she is wearing heels and has her hair done, etc. I think there is this widely accepted concept that women always have to look good, and by good meaning their hair is done and they are wearing heels and makeup. So the fact that women posses this strength and still “look good” while doing it is something I think every women should take pride in. I did a gender project in the 11th grade in which I had to convey with pictures what I felt being a woman stood for. I chose to do a series of pictures of the stereotypical women jobs, yet in dresses and heels. My concept was to convey to people the extra mile women have to work in this society.

3. Collect 2 images that you consider extremely powerful. (Download images from internet, take a digital pic, or use library scanner; Insert images into essay.)  Identify the main theme(s) you associate with the image.  For each, provide a statement of what the image means to you, why it is powerful, and what the image says (and doesn’tsay) about the world in which we live. 

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I find the image above to be extremely powerful. I think in todays society it is a big thing for women to take various cultures customs and turn them into fashion statements. A big thing now is people wearing bindis and burqas like headdresses. For many years clothing and accessories with crosses have been sold in mass quantities at stores. Although that too is a form of cultural approcriation it isn’t the same as the most recent trends. This is because they’re now being stolen from cultures who don’t given women the equality they deserve. In the Arab societies, the women were deprived of the most basic human rights that is required for human existence. The practice of female infanticide was widely practiced among some of the Arab tribes. So for people like Lady Gaga to wear a burqa in a sexualized way is so disrespectful in my opinion. That’s why I find this image so powerful. It is someone of that culture who is proud and embracing her customs in they proper and appropriate way.

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The second image that I find to be of an actual woman but of a female lioness. Although the image of is of an animal I think it conveys the same idea of how powerful women are. Even though the lioness is drenched in blood from the obvious prey she just attacked, the idea that she has the role is inspiring. Metaphorically speaking in relation to humans I feel it represents that women are capable of doing what is sometimes considered a “man’s job”. It is the job of the female lion to hunt and provide food for the family. I also think its so interesting how in the animal kingdom that the male animals are typically the “prettier” ones. The reason for this is so they can attract a mate. It shows that this idea that women are supposed to always look pretty and stay at home and let the man provide everything is strictly a societal constructed concept. There is no genetic reason that females, both animal or human, can’t do the same job as a male.

On Great Women Artists

1. How does Nochlin reply to the question “Why have there been no great women artists”?  (Summarize main points). 

The answer that is assumed when this question is proposed is that there has never been great woman artists because they are unable to achieve greatness. Some assumptions claim that there is a genetic difference between man and woman that make men more superior. Another reason that is given is that there is a significant difference in the type of greatness achieved by mean in comparison to that of women. So the question now becomes if there are so many great woman artists that aren’t recognized than what are they fighting for?

The real problem is what is considered art by these invisible judges of character. Much of art though the centuries has shown tons of femininity. But only the men who portray such themes seem to rise to fame. This is because from the beginning of time women were never given any attention in the art world. Thus, it didn’t matter if the male was talented or not, he would instantly be given a head start. So the most important thing women can do is accept the history given and realize that still in the given situation they may have to work a little bit harder to achieve the same recognition as a man. It is key to recognize that truce greatness is a challenge for everyone, whether they’re a man or woman.

2. Who are the Guerrilla Girls and what do they do?

The Guerrilla Girls are a group of female artist who want to make a name for the great woman artist who have failed to be recognized for centuries.  In the process of doing so a primary goal for them is to fight discrimination. They have produced various forms of posters to call to the publics attention to race and gender issue that are abundant in our culture. These woman would wear gorilla masks to keep the focus on their actions not their personalities. Humor was also a skill they used to give a more positive connotation to feminists. The idea of the guerrilla girls is they can be anyone and everywhere. Their wish is to unite women artist and represent the entire community.

3. What does Woolf say would have happened had Shakespeare had a brilliant sister (Judith)? 

If Shakespeare would have had a sister, life wouldn’t be much different from the reality of what we know. This is because odds are her brilliance most likely would of never been recognized because of her sex. She wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to go to school and display the knowledge and skill she possessed. She would have been encouraged to work and marry young and serve her husband. Unfortunately there would have been a slim chance that anyone would have payed attention to her to discover her talent. Even if she tried to express her feeling and knowledge she would most likely get shut down and very likely laughed at.

4. What do you think?  (Your reaction/response to Nochlin, the Guerrilla Girls, Woolf)

I think the context of Woolf and Nochlin’s writings are very upsetting because unfortunately that is the harsh reality. I find it so astounding that still today females are not found in the major art names. I also find that so ironic when you see Universities today filled with woman. Furthermore majority of art majors in college are females. I previously researched the Guerrilla Girls this past year and i think they’re amazing. The way the do things and the facts they come with are fantastic. I think its also a shame how even one of these big activist groups for female art are still pretty unknown today.