FAH102 Week 10.docx

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15 Apr 2012

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Week 10 Gender and Art/Feminism
Vernon Hyde Minor, chapters 14, 15
o In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the submission of women came to be
question by a number of socially conscious thinkers
Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) and John
Stuart Mill’s On the Subjection of Women (1869) are important documents that
challenge Western culture’s need to keep woman in her place
o Feminism is a form of political action has been transmuted into a form of critical study
o Women artists are trained in a masculinist art world, so a feminist artist has at least two
tasks; to uncover the masculinist element of traditional art and to show the experience
of women as distinct from that of men
o Audrey Flack’s Queen is a more recent example of feminist art
Shows stuff not normally thought of as constituting high culture
She presents the detritus, the overlooked, the supposedly inconsequential
details of society that have frequently been judged by mainstream culture as
only marginally important
By giving these things attention, the feminist artist advocates a kind of
destabilizing process
o Laura Mulvey: claims that movies tap into the unconscious desires of the viewer and
that viewer is gendered
He is male and is a scopophiliac one who loves to look a voyeur, a peeping
The idea of the male gaze depends in part upon psychoanalytic theory, which
often makes of art a means of satisfying unconscious wishes
Aphrodite of Knidos produced about 350 BC
She was located in a small sanctuary surrounded by columns on the
island of Knidos in the Aegean Sea
She was shown emerging from her bath, picking up a towel, about to
dry off
Early accounts say that the sailors would climb the hill to Aphrodite’s
sanctuary and, hiding behind the columns, watch her and leave their
“stains” on the marble
In a sense the woman is demeaned, is objectified, is made the victim of
Lise Vogel, “Fine Arts and Feminism: The Awakening Consciousness,” Feminist Studies, vol. 2, no.
1. (1974), pp. 3-37 (jstor)
"The Age of Iron. Man as he Expects to be", an 1869 lithograph print published by Currier and
Ives .
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o This is a satirical anti-feminist caricature of a wife going out for an evening, leaving her
husband to look after the baby at home and sew.
o The gender-role reversal extends to the servants, where the carriage-driving servants
are female, while the one washing clothes is male
The Age of Brass, or the “Triumphs of Woman's Rights", an 1869 lithograph print published by
Currier and Ives. A satirical caricature of the possible consequences of giving women the vote.
The two candidates "Susan Sharp-tongue the Celebrated Man-Tamer" (dressed in circus-
performer costume) and "Miss Hangman for Sheriff" canvass for women's votes (of course in
1869 women couldn't vote anywhere in the United States, except as a newly-established
experimental innovation in the remote territory of Wyoming). At the right, a sharp-featured
woman brandishes a fist threateningly at her husband, who holds the baby. For some reason,
the caricaturist imagines that feminists or manly women would wear grotesquely exaggerated
hair chignons
ROME, July 31, 2004 -- The Vatican (Pope John Paul II) issued a letter attacking the "distortions"
and "lethal effects" of feminism, which it defined as an effort to erase differences between men
and women -- a goal, the statement said, that undermines the "natural two-parent structure" of
the family and makes "homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent."
o The sharp critique was contained in a document issued by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a
chief adviser to Pope John Paul II
Feminism is a collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies largely
motivated by or concerned with the liberation of women from subordination to men.
o In simple terms, feminism is a belief in the social, political and economic equality of the
sexes, and a movement organized around the conviction that biological sex should not
be the pre-determinant factor shaping a person's social identity or sociopolitical or
economic rights. A large portion of feminists are especially concerned with what they
perceive to be the social, political and economic inequality between the sexes which
favours men at women's expense; some have argued that gendered and sexed
identities, such as "man" and "woman", are socially constructed. Under continuing
pressure to conform to masculine norms, feminists disagree over the sources of
inequality, how to attain equality, and the extent to which gender and gender-based
identities should be questioned and critiqued.
o Many feminists today regard feminism as a grass-roots movement that seeks to cross
boundaries based on social class, race, culture and religion. They also argue that an
effective feminist movement should address culturally specific issues relevant to the
women of other societies such as female genital cutting in some parts of Africa and the
Middle East and "glass ceiling" practices that impede women's advancement in
developed economies
Woman and the Art World
In 1985, a group of women artists founded the Guerrilla Girls. They assumed the names of dead
women artists and wore gorilla masks in public, concealing their identities and focusing on the
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