23 May 2006

Guerrilla Girls

I wrote a little while ago about feminism and art, and sort of wondered what the whole thing was for.

And although I would like to believe that gender discrimination plays virtually no role in contemporary (western) society, I’d be fooling myself to do so. I’ve been good at fooling myself over the years. What can I say? I’m gullible. The faith-in-humanity side of me has a huge tendency toward denial, particularly the denial of any real injustice, unkindness, inhumanity. I have, for as long as I can remember, been good at finding other explanations that have allowed the general goodness of mankind to remain intact.

I don’t buy it anymore. In saying that the current status of men and women is not just, two questions immediately surface.
1. Whose fault is it?
2. If this isn’t just, what would be?

Both are tough questions. The first is an important one, because whenever someone says “Feminism”, somewhere a man gets defensive. But more importantly, there are women who are doing feminism no favor through their actions. Women are part of the problem, either by contributing extremist viewpoints that fuel contention or for defending the status quo on some kind of moral ground. For the most part in contemporary (western) society, women are limited by their own view of themselves more than by an outside, repressive authority. We waste time and money on things we believe we want or even need to be “feminine” without questioning that standard or the reason we seek to fulfill it.

The second question is more elusive, and I have no idea how to articulate an answer for it.

These questions also relate directly to art and industry that surrounds it. Why is art still dominated by white men? If white men aren’t actually superior artists (and come on folks), what is wrong with the system? Why are they still the profound majority?

Guerrilla Girls is the art world’s very own feminist activist group. They grapple with these and many other issues all the time. I’m not sure I’m with them because their tone is more aggressive than I deal well with. But there’s an interesting interview on their site anyway, focusing on who they are and why they do what they do.


katperkins said...

Even though I am an art major, I didn't hear about the Guerrilla Girls until my Feminist Theories class. They are more aggressive than I like too, but I think that some of the things they do are done with a sense of humor. Shumalith Firestone wrote a book with a whole chapter on the very subject about men dominating the art and science worlds. Maybe I'll send it out with Dad for you to look at.

Anonymous said...

I will not be a part of the conquering of the world by the Guerrilla Girls since I am already in league with Pinky and the Brain's efforts of world domination. I understand their aims and goals better. Grandpa Dan

Mary Ann said...

kat, I'd love to see that book. I hope you'll send it with him.