The trailer for a new documentary about Anita Hill’s testimony during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing has been released. (It’s worth remembering that additional witnesses who could have confirmed her testimony, and who made themselves available to testify, were not called to do so.)
Art Activism: Bedding Out April 10, 2013
Liz Crow, artist and activist, is starting a revolution from her bed.
BEDDING OUT emerges from the current welfare benefits overhaul, which threatens many with poverty and a propagandist campaign that has seen disability hate crime leap by 50%.
“I wear a public self that is energetic, dynamic and happening,” explains artist-activist Liz Crow. “I am also ill and spend much of life in bed. The private self is neither beautiful nor grownup, it does not win friends or accolades and I conceal it carefully.
“But for me, along with thousands more, this new system of benefits demands a reversal: my public self implies I don’t need support and must be denied, whilst my private self must be paraded as justification for the state’s support. For months, I have lain low for fear of being penalised, but the performer is beginning to re-emerge. Instead of letting fear determine who I am, I’d rather stare it in the face.” BEDDING OUT is a performance in which I take my private self and make it public, something I have not done in over 30 years. On this stage, for a period of 48 hours, I am performing the other side of my fractured self, my bed-life. Since the public me is so carefully constructed, this will be a kind of un-performing of my self.
“I want to show that what many people see as contradiction – what they call ‘fraud’ – is only the complexity of real life. This is not a work of tragedy, but of in/visibility and complication; a chance to perform my self without façade.”
Join her live over the next 48 hours!
“Native American designers fight cultural caricatures” – An actually good article from CNN December 1, 2012
I was pleasantly surprised to see CNN post a well thought-out and executed article on responses to recent appropriation of American Indian cultures.
(The comments are a different story, but at least there are some people calling out the bs among them.)
The article even does what its interviewees suggest: most of the article is just quotes from Native designers, artists, and bloggers.
“The conversation is important, because acts of cultural appropriation are not simply isolated incidents of “hipsters in Navajo panties and pop stars in headdresses,” said Sasha Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. They are byproducts of “systemic racism” that perpetuate the idea that there’s no such thing as contemporary Native culture. “Despite what dominant society and mainstream media say, Native culture is a vibrant and living culture. We are not a relic of the past, a theme or a trend, we are not a style or costume, we are not mascots, noble savages or romantic fictional entities.”
“What an ally does is support and help communicate the message of Native artists and entrepreneurs instead of speaking for them,” Brown said.
It would have been even better if the article had also discussed the connection between the amount of sexual violence American Indian women face (statistically) and the sexualization of them via things like the Victoria Secret runway show, ‘sexy Indian’ costumes, and other things. Brown discusses that in her article here at Racialiscious.
Shameless on the AGO’s unibrow stunt November 8, 2012
To promote its special exhibit on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario has been handing out stick-on unibrows and photographing patrons wearing them. Here is a nicely trenchant response from the awesome feminist youth mag, Shameless. (It really is awesome, by the way. Consider buying subscriptions for the youths in your life!)
Here’s a taste:
I hate to be a joykill, here, AGO, but since when did celebrating an artist who challenged our ideas of feminine beauty by refusing to change the way she looked involve breaking her down through the implicit public ridicule of her appearance? Over the course of her lifetime and afterwards, Frida Kahlo’s unibrow was viewed as many things–striking, daring, odd, challenging, coy, studied, bold, memorable, and the reason why so many men fell love with her–but never as a city-wide joke. Why start now?
The Buffy Effect August 30, 2012
According to some interesting new research, the portrayal of strong female characters may be more important than plot content (including sex, violence, and even sexual violence) when it comes to shaping viewer attitudes to women.
Past research has been inconsistent regarding the effects of sexually violent media on viewer’s hostile attitudes toward women. Much of the previous literature has conflated possible variables such as sexually violent content with depictions of women as subservient
The submissive characters often reflect a negative gender bias that women and men find distasteful. This outweighed the sexual violence itself, giving credence to what Ferguson calls the “Buffy Effect”—named after the popular television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its strong lead female character.
“Although sexual and violent content tends to get a lot of attention, I was surprised by how little impact such content had on attitudes toward women. Instead it seems to be portrayals of women themselves, positive or negative that have the most impact, irrespective of objectionable content. In focusing so much on violence and sex, we may have been focusing on the wrong things,” Ferguson said.
“While it is commonly assumed that viewing sexually violent TV involving women causes men to think negatively of women, the results of this carefully designed study demonstrate that they do so only when women are portrayed as weak or submissive,” added Journal of Communication editor and University of Washington Professor Malcolm Parks. “Positive depictions of women challenge negative stereotypes even when the content includes sexuality and violence. In this way Ferguson reminds us that viewers often process popular media portrayals in more subtle ways than critics of all political stripes give them credit for.
Proving once again what we all (or at least all of us of a certain age) already knew: Buffy is so much more awesome than Twilight ever could be.
[Author's note: It's possible that the entire point of this post was just an excuse to put up Jo Chen's Buffy Illustration. I'm okay with that.]
10 Reasons Not to See Snow White and the Huntsman June 9, 2012
If you haven’t read it yet, head over to the Ms. Magazine Blog and check out Natalie Wilson’s scathing review of Snow White and the Huntsman — smart and snarky and definitely worth the time.
Snow White, the most passive “heroine” in history. This version of Snow White is special not because of what she does, but because of who she is. She is full of natural goodness–healing those around her with her very presence, bringing about magic with that beautiful green-eyed gaze and pouty lip-bite. Yes, near the end she finally grabs a sword and some armor, but it’s too little, too late.
The post is also pretty impressive in the “faint praise” department: “All that being said, there were a few good points. Hmmmm. Let’s see. Kristen Stewart has perfect eyebrows.”
How will you celebrate the jubilee? Feminism matters May 29, 2012
That is, Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee?
In fact the commission that plans things has come up with an intriguing idea: a kind of giant commonwealth diary of those 60 years. You can pick any day and write about what interesting or significant things happened on that day. The only restriction is that it is about some commonwealth things.
And you can also get an app for viewing the results.
So let’s go and mark the fact that women and feminism have been extremely important over the last 60 years.
Here’s the site: http://www.jubileetimecapsule.org/
Alternatively, you can write angry letters to the BBC for their list of the New Elizabethans, those UK people who have significantly affected the history in those 60 years. Does (approximately) 20% women seem right to you? No women authors, despite Doris Lessing’s Nobel Prize. As I remember, no women visual artists, even though Tracy Emin and Fiona Rae, our contemporaries, are the only women to be professors at the Royal Academy since its founding 350+ years ago.
Perhaps people compiling the list did not keep sufficiently in mind that making very significant changes in the futures possible for women is indeed changing history. Or perhaps this is unfair. You can hear the head of the panel that selected the new Elizabethans, Lord Hall, discuss the process.
One could go on. Sigh.
Congratulations to the Buranovskiye Babushki May 28, 2012
Eurovision’s over all second place winners for 2012!
We noted some months ago that their performances seemed a remarkable combination of women’s traditional crafts and a very modern setting. We might – although reluctantly – see the NY Times as getting at a similar thought:
Eurovision is known for its over-the-top kitsch, but, even by its standards, there was something remarkable about grannies from the central Russian republic of Udmurtia, not far from where the Ural Mountains border on Siberia.
The Babushki, with an average age of 75, finished second over all with a jaunty pop song called “Party for Everybody.”
Wearing head scarves and traditional dresses and coin jewelry, they bounced up and down, waving their arms, smiling mischievously. They performed with a steaming oven as a prop on stage, and, at one point during their stay in Baku, they baked trays of perepechi, a traditional dish of meat and vegetable tartlets that they served to the Eurovision press corps.
And here they are:
On the importance of representation of homosexuality in games October 30, 2011
Or: Why Queer Visibility matters in Games.
This may not mean much to the average straight gamer, but to underrate the importance of the visibility of homosexuality in a video game would be disastrous.
Read the full article by Julie Horup here, the comments are interesting too.
Thanks Brenna Hillier!
Unknown Woman/great figure in twentieth-century art October 21, 2011
Well, perhaps I am one of the few who hasn’t known of Dorothea Tanning. But I sort of doubt that, and so I’m stunned to read the opening sentences of a review in the New Yorker of Tanning’s new book of poetry. It’s as though we first thought there just weren’t any great women artists; next we find out that there were or are some who remained unknown. Now it seems to be something of a commonplace that a largely unknown women can be one of the outstanding artists of the century. As though there is nothing remarkable about the fact that the name of her husband, Max Ernst, has a very different fame.
I am not sure what sort of poems we expect from a centenarian, but by any measure Dorothea Tanning’s poems come as a surprise. At a hundred and one, Tanning, one of the great figures of twentieth-century art, and a woman of extraordinary personal power and seductiveness (everyone who meets her seems to agree), has just published her second book of poetry, “Coming to That” … Its wry title suggests her unique predicament: she is both ancient and precocious, a veteran and a neophyte, the “oldest living emerging point,” as she calls herself….
What threatens to happen to the brightest lights of any artistic milieu happened to tanning; she became a sole survivor. Tanning is the oldest living Surrealist, a tag she dislikes (since she made art for decades after surrealism’s heyday)… (My stress.)
Among other things, her poems employ metaphors that related to women’s experience; thus, she thinks of herself as a young artist as having “enough to hold/enfolfrf as in a pregnancy,/those not-yet-painted works.”
In this video of her paintings, she is the young women with the monkey sitting before her: