Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Waning He-man Women Haters Club

"Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me. But they all seem to. It doesn't matter what country they're in or what religion they claim, they all want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our health and our own bodies." ---Secretary Hillary Clinton, 2012
Several people mentioned it. There were a notably large number of strong works by women artists at the Moving Image art fair.

I had noticed it myself as the selection process was coming together. The number of works by women artists stood out.

It wasn't intentional. The committee didn't decide this was the year to focus on women. It just happened organically.

But Moving Image wasn't the only venue. One of the top collectors in the world posted on his facebook page that "It's the year of great women artists at the art fairs in NY this year" in response to his visits to the ADAA Art Show and Armory, and the downtown favorite mini-fair Salon Zürcher presented solo projects by women artist only this year.

So what's happening?

After the last Whitney Biennial (the first in its history that featured more women than men artists), the pendulum swung back this time to including nearly twice as many men as women in the line-up. The funny thing is, though, that I had to count myself. No one that I know of has remarked on the numbers this time.

I think that's a good thing, actually (that, even if momentarily, we're enjoying a bit of "post-disparity" refocus on other issues). And it's very heartening to see Rush Limbaugh's sponsors flee from his show after the political shock jock piggishly mocked a woman who insisted her health insurance cover her health care needs.

It seems to me that the reactionary attacks on women from the right-wing extremists in this country reveal a desperation for another "other" to project their political frustrations onto (read: attempt to veil their incompetence). The fact that women legislators are fighting back (and how) across the country suggests the extremists chose the wrong scapegoat this time.

Vigilance is obviously still called for. Had Limbaugh's comments or Issa's censorship gone unchallenged, my guess is they might have succeeded in changing the subject from how lame and utterly disjointed the GOP's current vision for the country is. So it's still very important to call a pig a "pig." To draw attention to disparity and slam those who would promote it.

But I think we're also seeing signs that things are actually improving. When larger numbers of women artists just so happen to be included in exhibitions or fairs (without a set agenda to do so) or when women lawmakers shove nonsense misogynist legislation right back down their creators' throats, I personally become more hopeful that we're reaching the point, as Secretary Clinton also noted, where women's rights are seen as human rights, plain and simple.

Labels: Art and politics, gender disparity


Anonymous Saskia said...

In Larry Whitman's new book, Art Scooled, which chronicles a year in the life of an art school, the administrators note that males in art school are becoming a rare species.

Is it really any wonder we're seeing more women's art shown these days considering the art school enrollment and graduation rates?

The first time I enrolled my son in art classes for kids(he was 6), there were.... 2 boys, and about 12 girls in the class! I was really shocked, since every activity or school he's ever been enrolled in always had the opposite problem-- almost no girls! I had no idea where all these girls his age even came from? I know that is an anecdote, but I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it held some statistical truth.

You just wait, if in today's world girls are starting art class at age 6 and boys are hardly present, in 10 or 15 years, what will art school enrollment look like?
And what will the art world begin to look like? It will definitely be tougher and tougher to keep up the status quo of male dominance.

Maybe gallery openings will have day care available, since we all know, that will still be a woman's job...

3/15/2012 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Men don't hate women. Men hate themselves and for good reason.

"Every man, deep down, knows he's a worthless piece of shit."

Valerie Solanas Scum Manifesto

Now I am going to go make some art maybe I will be redeemed. How selfish and pathetic is that? Then hopefully It will be sold to a wealthy Sociopath and their Gate Keeper Sychophants will put me to the front of the line. YEA iM FUCKING DOWN . Where's my slice of apple pie mother fuckers! Can... you.... smell... what the Rock is cooking?

you Ruined my weekend Edward but the inspiration was worth it.

3/16/2012 11:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now if only the gallery world would get over the 'we can only show liberal ideas' hump. When Ken Johnson calls the gallery world a 'liberal circus' you know there are problems with religious / political bias within that 'community'.

Have you ever stopped to think that 'right-wing extremists' would be more supportive of art on the public level if 'art professionals' kept their personal political leanings out of the curatorial process? Art can be technically great even if you don't agree with the visual message.

3/16/2012 08:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saskia, art school enrollment is already dominated by women. Unfortunately, most art dealers are sexist. That is a fact. Hey Ed... you can't blame Republicans for the choices of private business owners... which is what a commercial gallery is. The bias has long been bred in your own backyard boyo.

3/16/2012 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Get back to us when you have a cohesive argument Anoymous, will you? At the moment it makes no sense.

3/16/2012 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger findingfabulous said...

So hoping for the complete end of women's art shows, feminist theatre and even worse a bunch of girls yelping "Whooohoo, girl power" on Survivor. Women's issues are everyone's issues, as are all other injustices on anyone. Let's hope we are almost there.

3/17/2012 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Ha Ha. "Anoymous" that's good!

I think Anonymous has a point, though maybe hard to decipher. Commercial galleries cater to the market, with maybe a few choice tastes of the dealer that may be less marketable thrown-in. The buyers are mostly old rich white guys. This needs to change. The more diverse the art audience, the better for everyone.
If galleries really did reflect the population of artists and not the select discriminations of the buyers there would be more female artists getting attention.

3/18/2012 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Wow...what happened in here?

Let me just make a few notes that will hopefully clear things up.

This post in no way suggested Republicans were responsible for the choices private business owners (gallery owners) make in the ratio of men to women in their program. There's nothing to suggest that at all, and Anonymous' claim that there is stands as perhaps the most carelessly considered straw man I've seen in over 10 years of blogging.

This post is celebrating what I see as solid indications that gender disparity is waning in 1) the art world (where exhibitions and/or art fairs now seem more organically to feature as many if not more than women, as opposed to when that only happened if contrived to do so) and 2) the political world (where in response to what is in my opinion a callous attack on women by the GOP, we're seeing women legislators fight back, suggesting a tide has turned in the political arena). Together, these ideas suggest to me disparity is waning.

Now I can imagine a host of reasons why those observations might not sit well with someone who either prefers the older disparity or will defend the GOP's actions without actually even thinking about whether they're worthy of that defense, and I imagine if you're upset it's only human nature to strike out against the person who highlighted the issues that made you so, but seriously, if you're going to critique the gallery system in this regard, you'll make a much stronger case if you refrain from launching your diatribe on such a seriously transparent, illogical association.

3/19/2012 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, you are calling Rush a pig for promoting gender inequality. I agree with you 100%. He should be called out. You are calling for people to call out other pigs like him. I agree 100%.

BUT art galleries have long promoted gender inequality in their own way. Actions do speak louder than words. The fact that the art world is only now making major strides toward gender equality shows just how much people in your profession have dropped the ball.

I'll add that I can recall Democrat voice boxes calling Laurie Ingram a "slut". Where were you then? Or is she not worthy of being respected as a woman because she is conservative and a Republican? You are a hypocrite sir.

Bernard, it has long been said that most major art collectors are politically liberal. Even Ed has suggested that. So based on your words, what does that tell you? Inequality does not have a political party. It can be rooted in ANY political party.

3/22/2012 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Anonymous, whoever you are, I fear that normal reason is a useless tool in discourse with you.

Therefore, I will cut to the chase and illogically accept responsibility for all the times in life I didn't stop to call someone out for the wrongs they've done, even when my defense would be I didn't know about them, if you'll simply be on your merry way.


3/22/2012 02:35:00 PM  

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