To Be She
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.” I often feel these words said by writer Rebecca West in 1913. As I think about access to feminism, I realize that it began as a political, social, and cultural movement dedicated to promoting equal rights for women in all aspects of life. Today, feminism is not narrowly defined by a single ideology but revealed in a diverse set of movements and perspectives dedicated to promoting the experiences of women. It is not only the booming voices demanding political and economic justice but also the subtleties of women and men working and living together. These are the intense feeling that bursts out in each crimson droplet of my soul onto paper.
Art, I believe, is an examination of my role in the world. I believe art is always a self-portrait, a view of the woman within me and her experiences. Hard or soft, pretty or ugly, superficial or deep- those things should not be opposing forces, should not be feminine or masculine traits, but should be blended into the modern clothes that we wear as women of modern times.
Still, I am brought back to these distinctions when someone says to me, “When I saw your work and not the person, I had only assumed it was a man”. I know it is often meant as a compliment, meant to tell me that my work seems intellectual and dynamic, that it’s not the pretty little flowers or soft velvet sunsets they have grown to expect of women. Haven’t we come further than those expectations, or are we bound by the shackles of our past? Are we as women allowed to display in full access the range of emotions we obviously feel?
As Michele Le Doeuff states: “A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place.”
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