Powerful Images

Allan G. Johnson does an excellent job of defining patriarchy in Patriarchy the System. The subtitle itself states it as “An it, not a He, a Them, or an Us.” The reason this is crucial to understand is because most people associate patriarchy with those who blatantly perpetuate it. We may imagine it to be the man cat calling a woman on a sidewalk or the boss who only strings her along because he sees more value in her rack than in her ability to push numbers faster than any man in the office. This, Allan states, is merely a glimpse at some of the players in the game. Defining a group of individuals as patriarchy is like calling a group of Canadians Canada according to Johnson, and instead of looking at the people we must examine the system as a whole.  We all participate in patriarchy, whether our role is profound or not. The system runs us all. “Patriarchy is a kind of society organized around certain kinds of social relationships and ideas (pg 100).” In order for patriarchy to function, women as well as men must contribute to the system. We are all actors with specific roles to play. Even if we hate it, we are still involved in it. We cannot all avoid getting jobs where we get paid 73 cents to the dollar, nor can we avoid buying shampoos that hyper sexualize women.  Although our role is present, we don’t have to make it easy to function. In order to take down patriarchy however, we must understand that patriarchy is an it.

In the article Yes You Are, the author does what I do every single day, which is tell people that they are feminists even if they don’t know it. We contstantly hear people attatching negative connotations to the term feminist when in fact its dictionary meaning is quite simple and to the point. If you believe in equality of the sexes, you are a feminist. It goes in depth to address all of the false notions about who can be a feminist and who cannot. I truly admired the simplicity of the article. The author does remind us that although it is a little bit more complicated than that, it is also that simple.

In PFA, we get a sense of the importance of the Feminist Art Movement and what it meant for the art world. It opened up the world of art and expanded the definition of modernism and opened up new methods of expression to both male and female artists. Female artists could emerge from their cultural isolation after the 1970s movement. Female artists did not feel like part of larger group but instead were very individualized. In the 30’s for a female artist to be seen as good, her art would need to be seen as something a woman did not do. In the 50’s and 60’s women weren’t only disjointed from one another, but they were excluded from history of art.

In the article on Art and Feminism, the author explains the importance of the link between feminism and art. She explains that feminist movements led by feminist artists in the early 1970s did not lead to a comminality of art expression, nor did it eflect the diversity of artistic responses at different times. Some prominent women artists such as Louise Bourgeoise and Chantal Akerman have denied being feminist, but she goes on to say that this does not mean their work isn’t feminist art. The art world only sometimes has women of color displaying their art, and sometimes it is only for funders purposes or to seem diverse.

Woman makes me think of so many different things. Subconciously I think of mother, covering up, modesty, compassion, and kindness. I have learned that this is what every woman is supposed to be, so I will always subconsciously read these words off in my head and the sound of that word. When I close my eyes, I see a woman of each religion and each color; a woman in hijab and another in a tee and jeans. I see women in sub-Saharan Africa bearing their chests and wrapping up their hair in braids. I see women across the spectrum that represent a variety of cultures and ideals.

 hijab-cover.jpg (225×325)

The images reveal such varying ideas of cultural systems. In the African village of Himba for example, women bear their chests freely. They are not required to care about Western ideals of beauty, but that does not completely free them from the confines of their own concepts of female beauty. They must do their hair a certain way and they must have to carry out many different physical tasks as women. The woman in hijab is someone I once related to very much. I begin to think of her claiming her body and representing the hijab in the way she likes. However, I cannot ignore the fact that hijab to me feels like a patriarchal device to prevent the wandering eyes of men. It seems like women taking on the solution to a men’s problem.

The main theme in this image is one of “honor.” This picture is of a woman being put in a hole to be stoned to death for some type of crime whether it was infidelity sexually or religiously. This image is everything I DESPISE about Islamic misconceptions. In reality I find absolutely no tie to Islam or any other religion for that matter, and it is mostly due to the fact that women always get the short end of the stick. For a woman to be stoned, their need to be less witnesses than if it was a man. Woman are required to expel themselves from human nature and become something unattainable. Of course men are happy to live in this world, they do not have to fear rape or death by stoning as we do. This image represents everything I hate about religion, and although I do not like to use the word hate, religion fosters it the most.

This image is one of gay shamings/beatings in Russia. The main theme to me seems to be humiliation. These men are tormented, beaten, shaved, and are left scarred. In Russia, gay individuals are being attacked on a daily basis solely based on their sexual orientation. The LGBT community is suffering from this violence, and it doesn’t look like there is anyone trying to help them in terms of Russian elite & officials. People lack compassion, and when one is homophobic there tends to be violence enacted due to their inability to fathom such a complex relationship. These boys suffer traumatically as a result of these attacks, and it is hard for anyone to live comfortably knowing their lives are constantly being threatened by these monsters.


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