radical
a response to Gendered: Art and Feminist Theory by Tal Dekel Simply reading about the trajectory of feminist theory feels like a feminist act for me. It is true that I have grown comfortable with the self-assumed title for some years now, but the more I learn about feminism in an academic setting, the more worthy I feel of the title—and yes, I am painfully aware of how elitist that makes me sound. I think what I am trying to get at, though, is that I love feminism precisely because it has done so much and yet has so much further to go. Feminism is a movement that I feel very much a part of, and I am finally positioning influential feminist writers and thinkers in history into my own lexicon. This feels like a rite of passage. I am more equipped than ever to speak to these issues from a personal standpoint, in attempt to address the larger sociopolitical issues that quite literally make my heart hurt. This text is solidifying a sneaking suspicion that I have had for years. That is, the suspicion that I am, indeed, a radical feminist—that this brand of solidarity and political activism is absolutely something that I can jive with. My old boss would use the term “feminist” as insult, and those four years of my life really challenged my relationship with that word and the way that I identify with it. “Radical” has such a negative connotation these days, which I think reflects our country’s overall discomfort with passion of any kind. We do not process extreme emotions well. We are afraid of extremes in any capacity, even if it’s something as seemingly uncontroversial as extreme joy. It seems to me that a lot of this rhetoric rests squarely on the resolve to be unafraid—or at least, unwavering in our fear of the unindoctrinated (not unlike Queer theory) or the ‘unacceptable’; unafraid to exist exactly as we wish to exist; unafraid of change, of difference; unafraid of the ‘quest to dissolve the impenetrable divide between the private and public spheres.” Carol Hanisch propelled the movement forward with this notion, insisting that there is nothing natural in defining female existence as personal. I think that this is a phrase I will return to throughout this school year. Feminist theory is helping me contextualize my own artistic intuition. For instance, I am realizing that my practice relies heavily on an impulsive type of form making that turns out time and time again aesthetically sexual in its nature. I swear this is not a conscious decision, and yet my awareness of these returning elements is changing the way that I perceive my work. I am naturally drawing a connection between this newly developed awareness, with the awareness/conscious raising of first generation feminism and subsequently the Radical feminist drive to inspect their lived experiences “which reflected their status in the eyes of society—their childhood and adolescence in a patriarchal world,….their sense of inferiority imposed on the female body…” Because my work is entrenched in childhood memory and unprocessed trauma, I am noticing how even my tangential understanding of feminist discourse has shaped my own revisiting of such a childhood within the patriarchy. Feminism helped me make sense of a lot of things that I struggled with growing up, and continues to do so, and most all of it comes down to my relationship with my won bodily autonomy, in a lot of ways. I struggle with how and why my work seems to always want to gesture toward the bodily, but I also readily admit that I have had a complicated relationship with my body and my sexuality my entire life (who hasn’t?). That said, it seems that a deeper inspection of the cannon of first wave feminism, particularly on the topic of depicting female nudity in art and the criticisms of such ‘essentialist’ emphasis, may provide some concepts to consider. The notion that female nudity “serves as one of the most prominent visual means of male dominance” for example, make sense, to some degree, but it makes me pause nonetheless. Feminists argued that the female nude figure in Western art history is a “symbolic act of sexual violation engaged in by artist and spectator alike.” Again, this raises all kinds of questions about my own work and my subconscious’s insistence of abstracting body parts and sexual organs. Am I reclaiming my sexual traumas of the last 12+ years? Are these visual representations of those traumas? Tools for processing? I’m not sure, and I don’t expect to ever really arrive at an answer to this question. Perhaps these thoughts will permeate my next “frienemies” though, and I am already looking forward to meeting them.
radical
a response to Gendered: Art and Feminist Theory by Tal Dekel Simply reading about the trajectory of feminist theory feels like a feminist act for me. It is true that I have grown comfortable with the self-assumed title for some years now, but the more I learn about feminism in an academic setting, the more worthy I feel of the title—and yes, I am painfully aware of how elitist that makes me sound. I think what I am trying to get at, though, is that I love feminism precisely because it has done so much and yet has so much further to go. Feminism is a movement that I feel very much a part of, and I am finally positioning influential feminist writers and thinkers in history into my own lexicon. This feels like a rite of passage. I am more equipped than ever to speak to these issues from a personal standpoint, in attempt to address the larger sociopolitical issues that quite literally make my heart hurt. This text is solidifying a sneaking suspicion that I have had for years. That is, the suspicion that I am, indeed, a radical feminist—that this brand of solidarity and political activism is absolutely something that I can jive with. My old boss would use the term “feminist” as insult, and those four years of my life really challenged my relationship with that word and the way that I identify with it. “Radical” has such a negative connotation these days, which I think reflects our country’s overall discomfort with passion of any kind. We do not process extreme emotions well. We are afraid of extremes in any capacity, even if it’s something as seemingly uncontroversial as extreme joy. It seems to me that a lot of this rhetoric rests squarely on the resolve to be unafraid—or at least, unwavering in our fear of the unindoctrinated (not unlike Queer theory) or the ‘unacceptable’; unafraid to exist exactly as we wish to exist; unafraid of change, of difference; unafraid of the ‘quest to dissolve the impenetrable divide between the private and public spheres.” Carol Hanisch propelled the movement forward with this notion, insisting that there is nothing natural in defining female existence as personal. I think that this is a phrase I will return to throughout this school year. Feminist theory is helping me contextualize my own artistic intuition. For instance, I am realizing that my practice relies heavily on an impulsive type of form making that turns out time and time again aesthetically sexual in its nature. I swear this is not a conscious decision, and yet my awareness of these returning elements is changing the way that I perceive my work. I am naturally drawing a connection between this newly developed awareness, with the awareness/conscious raising of first generation feminism and subsequently the Radical feminist drive to inspect their lived experiences “which reflected their status in the eyes of society—their childhood and adolescence in a patriarchal world,….their sense of inferiority imposed on the female body…” Because my work is entrenched in childhood memory and unprocessed trauma, I am noticing how even my tangential understanding of feminist discourse has shaped my own revisiting of such a childhood within the patriarchy. Feminism helped me make sense of a lot of things that I struggled with growing up, and continues to do so, and most all of it comes down to my relationship with my won bodily autonomy, in a lot of ways. I struggle with how and why my work seems to always want to gesture toward the bodily, but I also readily admit that I have had a complicated relationship with my body and my sexuality my entire life (who hasn’t?). That said, it seems that a deeper inspection of the cannon of first wave feminism, particularly on the topic of depicting female nudity in art and the criticisms of such ‘essentialist’ emphasis, may provide some concepts to consider. The notion that female nudity “serves as one of the most prominent visual means of male dominance” for example, make sense, to some degree, but it makes me pause nonetheless. Feminists argued that the female nude figure in Western art history is a “symbolic act of sexual violation engaged in by artist and spectator alike.” Again, this raises all kinds of questions about my own work and my subconscious’s insistence of abstracting body parts and sexual organs. Am I reclaiming my sexual traumas of the last 12+ years? Are these visual representations of those traumas? Tools for processing? I’m not sure, and I don’t expect to ever really arrive at an answer to this question. Perhaps these thoughts will permeate my next “frienemies” though, and I am already looking forward to meeting them.