Take the time to watch this.

A Nigerian feminist TEDtalk. I am American. Here people live in the illusion of equality. It is a very vast and elaborate illusion. But listen to her talk about her experiences and how ludicrous it is to be a feminist to other Nigerians. Does that sound right? Look into your own life. Do not be afraid of being angry and looking closer. Do not be afraid of pissing other people off. Be unafraid of your own inquisitive mind. Change starts when you look for and find the problem. She is a rather wonderful Woman. Take the time to watch this.

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New Works or My Recent Thoughts on Women

I am always thinking about women. About myself as a woman. About other women and how they might see themselves as women. And always, I am thinking about what that really means – to be a woman. It is a very difficult question to answer. Should I embrace my maternity and femininity, my strength, my emotional intellect, my scientific intellect! Should I embrace the way in which I am different or the ways in which I am equal. A wise (but boring politically correct) person would say “Embrace it all, all that is you, because all of you is woman.” That’s nice. That really is very nice and hippy dippy and accepting – but for me, and I don’t know about you, that just isn’t all that comforting.

The first thing that I always go to is the societal differences between men and women – the cultural “norms” that have shaped the female psyche for generations and continue to today in more than just the obvious ways. I can get worked up just like any other And because I am always thinking about these things some things appear or materialize all on their own. The below painting, for instance, came into fruition due to a fleeting thought I had while I was trying to fall asleep earlier this week.

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LITTLE RED HEAD

The head of Little Red Riding Hood appeared to me on a decorative display. Her head is not on a pike. She has not been executed and mounted to prove a point to my enemies. She has been, instead, preserved for future generations to enjoy and observe. Now, before I get into this too deep, here is another piece that poured out of me this week:

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THROUGH A KEYHOLE

Here we are taking the perspective of a peeping tom, or someone of that habit, through a keyhole to find a woman gazing into a vanity with a skeletal face gazing back.

There is something off putting about both pieces, I know. Showing them to my family I got double takes and looks of confusion. The two pieces seem unrelated other than their off putting nature. They are different in tone, mood, color palette, and subject. But in my mind they are two peas in a pod.

I did not start with their connection in mind, but after both had been conceived of I saw their relevance and it was ground breaking for me. Together they are Women on Display. A theme I think, if you think hard enough, you can locate in your own life.

I don’t care who you are or what your status on feminism is! You cannot deny that women are showboated more than men on a grand scale. Women are dressed up and dressed down to prove a number of points. They are beautiful always – if they aren’t beautiful they are not shown because “All women are beautiful” so why shouldn’t we gaze upon them! I am all for body and beauty positivity. But really, WHY ARE WE FIGHTING TO BE STARED AT!?  Why do we want to be on display? What kind of gratification or satisfaction or validation do we gain from it! Why do we need to be validated thusly?

These works are of women on display. But it is at the viewers prerogative. The subjects have not chosen to show themselves. For Red someone took the liberty of preserving her beauty, her story, her strength. She has been beheaded or stripped of her identity to be placed in the annals of time, to live on the mantel to serve as some sort of guide or warning or treasure – she is no longer a woman but a commodity.

For the other, she is unaware of being watched. She is found naked of even her face. She is not what is expected. She does not live up to the expectations of the viewer. She is other worldly, but not in her beauty. She is alone and the viewer has stolen that from her. Stripped.

There are arguments out there that say that women are just more prone to vanity. There are studies about the hormones in a woman’s brain that say women are born with the instinct to connect. Women do have larger areas for emotion but they also have larger brain capacity devoted to language and communication. It is not innate for a woman to throw herself up on a billboard to yell “Look at me! Aren’t I beautiful??” But a lifetime of magazines and beauty products and accidental, but harmful, words from everyone around us lead us to believe that we are beautiful, and if we aren’t there are certain people who will think that we are, and if there aren’t then there are products and tips and tricks that will make you pretty if not beautiful. Don’t worry, someday someone will just want to sit around all day and stare at your outer beauty or your inner beauty or whatever.

Accidentally harmful. But of course we want to tell the women in our lives that they are beautiful. But I wish we didn’t. I am tired of being on display.