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What challenges do feminist artists face in contemporary society?


my name is Janine. I am a student of Arts and Humanities at Birkbeck. I volunteer at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I have a full time job. I am an artist.
I am a feminist. I am a woman. I am gay.

I know this introduction is not really needed, yet I feel it makes the connection I have to the subject more clearer and shows my sincerity.

As part of my degree I have to write a about a subject I chose. After a breaking my head over subject I like but not love, brainstorming (I never believed this would work) helped me find this question.

'Which challenges do feminist artists face in contemporary society?'
Last summer (actually two summer's ago) I went to see Tracey Emin's exhibition 'Love Is What You Want' and I remember going through the exhibition and hearing rather shameful comments. Which I am not going to repeat at this point. Two years in these voices are still in my head, and I wonder what is going on? What happened to feminist revolutions? Why are so many women almost shamefully convinced that we have equal rights, when we do not? Sometimes I feel we are going back to the fifties again and I FEAR this place.

So I ask you what are your ideas on my question and what do you have to say on the subject of third wave feminism?

Are we really there yet?


  • Mar 10 2013: No Janine, we are not there yet. Men still get more pay for the same work, are noticed & listened to more then women and if you wish to sell your art work: Use a man's name.
    As an older gay artist, I learned a long time ago my work would faster if I just used my nick name, Which happens to be Max.
    It's my middle name shorten.
    I am NOT a shabby artist & my work sells around the world as long as I use my nick name. Once folks have bought my work & then learn I am female, all is fine, but not before.
    A 3rd wave of Feminism? I am for it as I was in the 50's, but done a lot differently this time. We now have the world wide web at our fingertips and the education to use it to great advantage. The Queen of England is going to sign an equal right bill for all her subjects, including Gays, women, and others. Great step for all humanity.
    • Mar 10 2013: Hey Gale,

      this sounds really interesting. What work do you do? And could you name one or two examples where you experienced challenges with your art in a male run world.

      I am keen to hear more.

      Take care

      • Mar 10 2013: I am a wildlife artist and most is custom work.
        When I used to show my work in judging contests yrs. ago. I noticed a lean towards the male artists and it just wasn't I who felt this way. The males were doing animals in the raw: meaning every day survival mode. While the females were doing the softer side of life.
        I changed my signature and started doing animals in the raw and my work started winning shows & sales went up. I never showed up at the shows but had a male friend take my place. He never said he was the artist just my rep.
        After several shows, I stopped going and devoted my time & talents to custom work, used to have a web site (no longer). All by word of mouth now.
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      Mar 10 2013: I had no idea. Thanks for letting me know that women's art doesn't sell. I'm stunned. I mean, art is art. I like what I like regardless of who painted it. But as I think about it, my stunned condition dissipates as what you have said sinks in and makes sense.
      • Mar 10 2013: There are many female artist out there who have had great success selling their work, but usually it is because they have had the money & connections to do so.
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      Mar 10 2013: It is a misconception that, "Men still get more pay for the same work?"
      Can you provide three examples?
      There may be serval reason this appears to be the case; women are not in as many higher paying jobs, women are employed in different fields, comparison use statistical averages.
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    Josh S

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    Mar 10 2013: What rights are different for men then for women?
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      Mar 10 2013: Shall we start with the lost right to own our own bodies?
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        Josh S

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        Mar 10 2013: abortions are currently legal in the US, though states can put limits on it. So if you want an abortion, go to a state with few regulations, there are plenty.

        So is this your one and only example of variation in rights? and by the way, the argument for abortion is the same for men as it is for women. Men are under the same restrictions, but we cant have babies. So in reality, in this situation there has to be differences in laws because women are physically different then men.

        So anyways, do you have an actual response? is there any right that treats men differently then it treats women?
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          Gail . 50+

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          Mar 10 2013: You said, "So in reality, in this situation there has to be differences in laws because women are physically different then men".

          If you think that you make sense, you will not begin to understand the rest either.
        • Mar 10 2013: Dear Josh,

          thank you for your interest in this subject. But I reckon if you want to see the inequality you need to start to see the world with different eyes. Do you have a daughter? I feel that this is always a very strong motivation for men to see the world in a different way.

          Read a little more and try to avoid people who argue against equality of men and woman. Because essentially it is about just that. Equality.

          Take care.

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    Mar 10 2013: Janine, this subject has gotten a great deal of attention over the last maybe fifty years but particularly recently, with the mounting of pathbreaking exhibitions. The first stop I recommend for you is the website for Elle: Pompidou.

    There is a very important article from the seventies, I think, called something like "Why are there no great women artists?" It started a firestorm.
  • Mar 16 2013: Janine; let me give you these caveats up front. I have never seen your work, nor the work of Tracey Ermin, so I may well be commenting ignorantly. I therefore am not personally criticizing or attacking your works; just tossing out generalities for discussion, which, admittedly, may not apply to you at all. If so, please forgive me in the context of my ignorance. First: because you're a feminist and gay, do you therefore assume that your works should be well received and popular? That you're "entitled"? Are you entering this field with a "chip on your shoulder"? Is there any true creativity or originality in your works, or are they just derivative, indistinguishable from the works of dozens of other feminist "artists"? Because you are female, you probably expect people to respond to your emotional expressions. But, this doesn't take the place of skill, craft, inspiration, individuality. So you have feelings? So does everyone else. So what? (Yeah, yeah, you're right; this is written by a straight man.)

    You're good at expressing yourself? OK. So are all of the rest of today's artists. I believe, though, there's a higher art; that art which expresses that which is beyond our limited, finite selves. If there comes a time in your creating when the project itself, the painting, the sculpture, whatever, takes over and dictates to you what directions to go in, what colors to use, what must be done, and, when it's done, you stand back and say something like, "Well, I'll be damned; I didn't know I had that in me", then, maybe, you could call yourself a true artist. Best wishes to you, sincerely, in your creativity and future.
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    Mar 15 2013: Janine, You statrt off the conversation with, "I an a feminist, I am a woman, I am gay." Are you looking for a fight or daring someone to say something that can be used against them .... is this supposed to make a difference to me?

    Frankly I do not care a wit about any of that. I suggest you sign your paintings "J. Georg". If I like it I will buy it. Not because you are gay or not.

    Stop throwning the gauntlet down and get rid of the chip. People will either like you or not based on who you are. Not your sexual preference. Same for your paintings. Do you want to be know as the gay girl who paints or a excellent artist?

    I wish J. Georg all the best. Bob.
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    Mar 12 2013: Nothing serious after Christopher Hitchens has died.
    Just kidding.
    Hello Janine, I must be living in a part of the world very different from yours. I mean, women do get raped in Delhi, but there is no problem for sale of an art by a female. The women still have challenges that are social and that is basically related to lack of education not on gender discrimination. If your account is true, it is too bad.
    Equal right is a mirage. Have the right to be free to determine your life. It has challenges but not impossible. I think there are good many people who care a toot about your gender or sexual preference but are interested about the person in you.
    It is sad that you are collecting negative experiences to zip up your armor.
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    Mar 11 2013: Hello, in my opinion, one big challenge would be to change your introduction; you have written a very meaningful introduction, seem to want to emphasize that you are different and that often leads to inequality. One thing is to be different that all we are, and other is right to equality that e.g. women don't have around the world.
    My point is that you are an artist and should be treated "only" as an artist and for the rest of us should not matter if you are woman, man, gay, black, white etc.. and as an artist you will express different ideas through your art, that could be about women, feminist, and other totally different topics... out of artist you are a person, the sexual gender could be important only when forming a couple and its only problem for the couple itself.
    Relative to shamefull comments always exist in all areas and we have to catch only constructive criticism that help us to improve, the cheap criticism without critera and only made to harm must be ignored.
    Sadly there is much work to achieve equality for women and we have to wait many waves.
  • Mar 11 2013: Society has abandoned the class struggles like feminism, and now the die-hards hang on to the irrelevance of the cause.
    isms, causes, those born in class warfare, are for those with high emotionality and marginal intelligence.
    When you just be yourself, you are free. You want to make it a mission, or make the world see it your way? Your dilemma will never end. Shed the bolshevik class warfare chains, and live free! and allow others to too.
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    Mar 10 2013: I'm a masculist. That's not divisive, is it?
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    Mar 10 2013: Nope, Janine, we're not there yet. And yes, for women like me, it feels like we have been sent back into the dark ages. Things are even more disheartening for you than me because I am not gay, but the condition is no less difficult for me and those women who understand what we are talking about.

    I really don't know how feminism relates to art though.
    • Mar 10 2013: Hey TED Lover,

      when you say things have been difficult, what do you mean? This is exactly what I need. Examples of real experiences.

      Keen to hear more.

      Take care.

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        Mar 11 2013: RECENTLY (meaning within the last two years since I moved to my new location):

        Where I live, women are thought to be persona-non-Grata. If you want to deal with a contractor or any other professional, you need a man to do the discussion or you won't be taken seriously..

        #1: Shortly after moving into our new house, the man who did yard work for the former owner knocked on our door. My husband and I talked to him, and he gave us rates for various packages. I chose one and he came back the next day to do our yard. But when he didn't show up 2 weeks later, as we had agreed, I thought that I would have to hire someone more reliable. But in week 3, he again knocked on the door, asking which package we wanted. I reminded him of the one we had chosen. He said he remembered, but my husband hadn't told him that it was OK for me to make that decision,

        #2: After moving here, we wanted to have some estate documents rewritten because of state laws. We hired an estate attorney who was born, raised, & educated in this state. I had to eventually tell her that I was in the room and if she was unable to talk to me or even look at me, we would have to find another attorney. She was surprised to discover that we considered it OUR estate plan - not his.

        #3: After years of watching my husband's mental decline (he's much older than me), my husband finally agreed to allow me to go with him to his doctor (a Pakistani) who referred us to a specialist (born, raised, & educated here). That professional didn't believe me. My husband insisted that he was fine (as all who first enter into dementia do) and the doctor told ME that any problem he had must be me, because my husband is so intelligent. What damage he did! (My IQ = my husband's)

        10 years ago, I was in 100% commission sales. My boss wanted to cut my pay because I was making so much more than the men. I had to remind him that I was commission - as were they.

        Out of characters or I'd continue.