Special Issue on Feminist Aesthetics

A special issue on Feminist Aesthetics, published by n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, includes intriguing international contributions. Canadian readers, you might find the interview with Feminist Art Gallery founders Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue of special interest. Although not for profit, access to most of the contents is not free, with the exception of the editorial, an excerpt of which is below:

 What is feminist aesthetics? To some, it arises in a close reading of contemporary women artists’ works with attention to feminist theory. To others, feminist aesthetics represents a model guiding the production of works, exhibition strategies and the presentation of feminist art. While to others again, exploring the relationship between aesthetics and politics becomes a means to re-activate a new set of relationships between art and activism, and through these means produce new forms of feminist politics through their practices. These three key ideas are explored in the close readings of different women artists’ projects in this volume.

No good deed goes unpunished

Elizabeth Harman was offended by a sign celebrating street harassment, and managed to set in motion a series of events that led to the sign being removed (see here and here for a reminder).

But apparently Harman’s position is woefully inconsistent because she defends the permissibility of abortion. Don’t follow that leap of logic? Neither do I. But it’s out there in the madness of the internet. The article, predictably, reminds us that we should all just chill the hell out about that sign because it was no big deal. Once we’ve calmed down we can begin to take more seriously our moral and teleological duties as fetus-incubators. Like nice girls.

In the midst of its madness, though, the article does afford us this gem: “Prof. Harmon’s stupidity is offensive to me” (my emphasis). Once again, irony saves the day.

Stars without makeup

The shocking new trend! Of course, the only reason they’d do this is to get some publicity. Despite the fact that they say things like “I woke up this morning and decided I’m over Hollywood’s perfection requirement.” The Guardian assigned an intrepid reporter to try out this shocking, unimaginable thing and, well, she could barely make it.

Two things that bugged me: The failure to take seriously an explanation for leaving off the makeup other than publicity seeking. And the failure to actually examine the pressures on women like the reporter to wear makeup. Her difficulty doing without comes across as personal weakness and love of triviality, when it’s actually quite clear that her social context makes this difficult in a way that mine doesn’t. (And yes, the reporter herself is the one who wrote the story and made these choices. But the criticism still holds. Could have been a much better article.)