Sj7g09's Blog

Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

The first line from the video in the previous post has really captured my imagination. To paraphrase, it’s Gail Dines asking what exactly can be considered artistic about a woman having a cock forced down her throat, and gagging. And I would argue, what exactly is not artistic about that? It makes the viewer feel something – whether this something is arousal or disgust or something in between. It raises so many issues on boundaries between high and low culture and what can be considered ‘art’. It also challenges free speech – that if free speech is worth anything, it must be that people can make material like this, even if it offends people, because that is their right. Free speech cannot just be for the people we agree ‘deserve’ it. Pornography illicits so much more of a reaction, I think, than gallery art. It is such a contentious issue at the moment, and is very tied to free speech, body autonomy, and reflecting, or challenging, mainstream norms and values, depending on your position on this. Like, one of the arguments Gail Dines uses against pornography is that it’s unimaginative and restricting peoples’ sexuality… therefore we should try to minimise pornography, like that isn’t restricting the sexuality and rights of people who want to use pornography… Anyway, I’ve never understood this argument, which has also been implemented by people at my school – that pornography is so completely mainstream and doesn’t challenge anything about society. Then why is there such a furor about pornography if it’s so mainstream? Why is it that people have to fight for their free speech to express themselves in this way? Also, that people tend to think of pornography as one set thing – tanned, blonde plastic young women – and therefore it doesn’t challenge mainstream values at all. But what about all the pornography that doesn’t fit these mainstream standards and is conveniently disregarded in debates – for example, pornography using models that are overweight, old, not fitting gender binary, etc. ? And does no one find it at all interesting how exaggerated the portrayals of ‘femininity’ have become in pornography that they come across as parody?

I think that mostly the point I want to make from the Gail Dines quote is that, in my opinion, a woman with a cock down her throat is certainly art. It may not conform to the aesthetic and coded language of high art, but it deals with the same sort of themes, and probably provokes more response and debate than a piece of ‘high’ art. And I dont think that these debates necessarily have to be just about porn – unfortunately pornography isn’t viewed in the same way as art is. If you see a high art painting of a naked woman, the implicit symbolism within art means that it could mean anything, could make comments on all manner of things, but if you have a ‘pornographic’ picture of a naked woman, it is just literally a picture of a naked woman. I think that pornography has so much to say about gender roles, free speech, the nature of capitalism, body autonomy, and a lot of other issues also, and that it’s missed because of it’s form. So the temptation is to convert these ideas from pornography into a more palatable form, conforming to the aesthetics and codings of high art, but why should it be necessary to do this when it’s quite possible that pornography itself is the best way of illustrating and commenting on itself and the issues around it?

At least it’s made with feeling – whether that feeling from the woman involved is pleasure or discomfort. The main point I want to argue is that even if people involved in pornography or modelling or erotic dancing, or any ‘sex industry’ umbrella term, hate what they’re doing, that shouldn’t mean that the way this is dealt with is to take away their right to do it, or the right of others to do it. Also, something that is very rarely pointed out is that it’s completely insulting to insinuate that porn models, dancers, etc. have no skill, no talent – that what they are doing isn’t artful, that anyone could do it. I think that people completely disregard that there are other skills required in order to excel in these jobs – confidence, assertiveness, independence, social skills – and it’s not just a case of “you have the right sort of body, you’re in!” This may sound a little silly, but why is it that sexual skills are devalued? I realise that they’re probably not much good in other areas of life, or other possible careers, but that if you’re a porn model, then it is skillful and a talent that you are able to perform certain acts. And time for a slightly reactionary comment that I’m sure will come out wrong, but I think perhaps Gail Dines should attempt having a cock put down her throat in front of a camera, then say whether it’s artful or not.

(Funny how violent that sounds when an act like that is applied to someone who clearly would object to it, when it’s not the act itself that is violent, it’s the reaction or perceived reaction. ‘I wouldn’t want to do it, because I think it’s universally violent, so no one else will want to, or should want to, or should be able, to do it either!’ sort of thinking.)

It always makes me angry to read articles that imply that basically all women of my generation are feminists, but are too embarrassed to admit it. Like the only reason women could ever not agree with feminism is that they’re worried about boys thinking they’re silly, and that it’s the courageous thing to do to be able to stand up and say “I am a feminist.” I am not a feminist, and I would say that I’ve had a lot of criticism and disbelief at my stance, and the idea that the only reason I would say I’m not a feminist is because I don’t understand it, or want to look ‘cool’ in front of my peers is insulting. I think there’s a very big difference between believing in equal rights and believing in feminism – they are not the same thing. Feminism looks for inequalities everywhere, because of the ideology it subscribes to, and subsequently finds inequality everywhere, especially where it is symbolic and there is no proof that it’s oppressing anyone.

I had a conversation last year with one of my lecturers, and said that I’m not a feminist, because I believe in the core value of equality, but that I believe that that is very different to ‘feminism’ in its current incarnation. Just as I would not call myself a Christian just because I believe that murder is bad, I refuse to subscribe to feminism just because I believe in one value that it sets out, but completely disagree with how it suggests this is achieved. People are far too willing to label themselves and change their life according to these labels.

This is a quote from an article in the Guardian, ” You’re not a feminist, but… What?” by Chloe Angyal:

“Feminism demands a complete overhaul of how we think, how we behave, how we talk, where we work, what media we consume, how we vote and how we raise our families.”

To me, this is the essence of feminism. It is completely hypocritical – followers are deterred from ‘patriarchal’ values, but these are simply replaced by other codes as to how you should live your life and form your identity, and this negates the only truly good thing feminism had – the idea that women should have free choice over how they think, how they behave, how they talk, where they work, what media they consume, how they vote and how they raise their families, amongst other things. In my opinion, feminism does not provide that choice, as it sets out other prescribed norms and values that you follow, or face being shunned.

I can only really speak for myself, but I don’t say that I’m not a feminist because I worry about fitting in, or having people say nasty things to me, labelling me according to stereotypes. If this were the case, it would be really stupid, seeing as most people I have ever met would say that they are feminists. This ideology is not the minority any more, and I would say that it’s a lot more challenging to actually go againist it and say that you’re not a feminist. For a start, you’ll have people telling you that you actually are a feminist, you just don’t understand what feminism is. Or people flat out telling you that you’re stupid if you don’t believe in feminism. I think this is the point – feminism is so hypocritical, it’s become what it set out to argue against. Feminists argue that women have been deterred from feminism because of peoples’ reactions and people trying to dissuade them from taking on this new ideology, but now feminism is that deterring force, trying to make people believe in this ideology because if you say that you don’t, you’re shunned, told you’re stupid, told that you don’t understand, guilted, told that you’re internalising patriarchy so aren’t entitled to an opinion.

I am not a feminist, and could never be a feminist, because I don’t believe in how this ideology conducts itself. It is hypocritical and underhanded, denying women their rights to choose if women do not agree with the ideology set out by feminism. I realise that there are different branches of feminism, but that is not enough of an argument to make me reconsider and think “oh, I can just define my views by a different sort of feminism”. That’s just weak. People shouldn’t need labels to validate their views. Unfortunately this means that feminism will pretty much always always win over the people it’s oppressing, because they have their club that most people now have a membership to, but can still claim that they are the oppressed minority, rather than that they’re being oppressive of others. As a woman, I feel oppressed by feminism. I do not want an ideology telling me how to live my life, simply because I happen to have been born female. I don’t want to be part of your club because of my genitals, thanks. I don’t want the extra protection that feminism wants to give me – I don’t want to ban lad’s magazines, or close strip clubs, or make counselling mandatory for prostitutes. I don’t want to lobby the government for yet more ridiculous laws to force everyone to be nice to each other, or come up with legislation that amounts to punishing people for thought crime. I know that this is not all feminism is, but, to me, these are all elements that are so very, very important to me that I could never even pretend to subscribe to an ideology that would make me complicit in these things. Ironically, I have more respect for myself than that. My views are very important to me and I won’t compromise them just so that people will respect me. I don’t feel that people I’ve spoken to, especially at university, respect my views, or me. Overwhelmingly, it’s always that I’m internalising, I’m stupid, I don’t understand, that I think what I’m doing is empowering but actually it isn’t (accompanied by pitying, self-righteous facial expression). Feminism is the norm, and it’s respected. I don’t live according to what looks empowering to everyone else – I really don’t care. I am not a representative of my gender, and will behave however I choose to, whether that looks symbolically degrading or not.

Just watching a BBC interview with Kat Banyard, which is fantastic, to see her views actually being deconstructed and challenged. I think that this highlights the absolute hypocrisy of feminism – Kat Banyard is against the sex industry and feels that it is one of the most detrimental forces in achieving equality, and sees the sex industry as exploitation towards women, conflating stripping, lap dancing, etc. with prostitution. In this interview, she defends womens’ rights to wear a burqa, as a choice that women should be able to make, and denounces how, in this issue, womens’ bodies are used as a battleground. Yet she doesn’t apply this thinking to women working in the sex industry – why can’t women choose to use their own body, which they should be seen as having ownership of, to work in an industry that she feels is exploitative? This is how feminism in general comes across to me – women have the right to make free choices about their own body, e.g. to have an abortion, but as soon as it’s about commercial sex, they’re too frail and vulnerable and exploited to have their views listened to. Particularly shown in Kat Banyard saying that abortion has to be a right for women, as they should have control over their own bodies, but that in the West we don’t label practices that are ‘harmful’ to women as violence, because they’re shielded by using words like ‘choice’ and ‘liberation’…. How can it be that women should not be allowed to make choices about their own bodies that they think are choice, or liberating, but have a higher authority outlawing these ‘choices’ because they don’t believe that they are the right choice?

And that laws changing to make sure women can go into any profession they wish regardless of their gender are good, but revoking this to make sure that women can’t work in the sex industry is good. How does that make sense? The idea that women still have to choose between a career and looking after their children, yet a lot of the time women choose to work in the sex industry because they want the more flexible working hours in order to spend more time with their family, but they’re looking to make sure that women can’t do this, can’t make this choice, and must have a job that they deem non-exploitative. What, exactly, in Capitalist society, is a job without exploitation?

In this Kat Banyard interview, I was hoping desperately that the interviewer was going to keep asking her about womens’ rights to choose abortion, to be a stay-at-home mother, to wear the burqa, with her answer always being that it’s about choice and body autonomy, but then to ask why these same principles can’t be applied to choosing to work in the sex industry. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but the point is still extremely relevant, I think.

 

So, I am not a feminist, but please stop trying to convert me.

My exhibition piece for tomorrow in progress. Better than I expected, considering I found out that I have an exhibition tomorrow at 3.30 this afternoon, and so had to go into my studio afterhours to take everything down and paint the wall white in preparation, then start actually making the piece. Obviously it’s completely badly made – it’s all stuck together with sellotape, but it doesnt show too much. My excuse for being able to link it to everyone elses’ work in my studio is that it has some stuff directly on the wall, and other people are doing murals, and the bedframe looks like an extension of the wall, or something. Failing that I’ll have to paint on the wall, which I dont want to do because I like how clean it looks as it is – maybe that can be my point, it’s not similar to the murals, it’s dissimilar, with black letters stuck to clean white wall. Bleh, dont really care. Not marked on it, will probably only be up for a couple of days. Totally unimportant, just dont really want to look like a twat for doing something completely different to anyone else in my studio, but not quite sure how painting a mural of kitchen utensils would really be that useful to my work, and get the impression that while the things should link together in the room, they are still meant to be something to do with your own working practice.

 

Here are some pictures from my studio shortly before it was dismantled. After moving in a couple of weeks ago, they’ve now decided that we’re having an exhibition tomorrow (which we were told about today), and are using the studio spaces to do this, so have to move everything out.

Luckily enough, I had my crit earlier today, otherwise I would have been very very unhappy seeing as I wouldn’t have a studio space if it were next week.

My crit was utterly bizarre. I’ve kind of given up writing on this blog now, or at least have done for a while. I dont think that it can really be that interesting to read, and probably would be of no interest to people who know me, let alone people who don’t. But maybe I should try to write, even if it’s just for myself.

The crit was strange and terrible, but not really that terrible. I was really nervous and nearly had a panic attack while people were discussing my work. It was horrible. The comments seemed to be that the subject matter was ‘dark’, ‘disturbing’, ‘horrible’, which I always find strange because there’s obviously nothing inherently dark, disturbing or horrible about the sex industry, in my opinion, and that the only reason you’d think it was dark, disturbing or horrible from seeing my work is if you believe the things my propaganda says. People seemed to think that there wasn’t any subtlety, that it was blunt and bludgeoning, but I hope that that’s about the propaganda images, as that’s exactly how they’re intended. I got the impression that people didn’t really understand that the views expressed in the propaganda wasn’t what I actually thought, and there wasn’t really any challenge of the views expressed within them.

The lecturer leading the crit suggested that with images of women, money, handprints, toys, etc. that even without the text she would have understood that it related to the sex industry. I think that that’s perfectly true, but can’t help but think that because of the level of stereotyping about the sex industry that people would get to the issue of the sex industry from that sort of imagery but that most likely they would arrive at the exact sort of thoughts expressed in the text on the images, without necessarily realising that those are stereotypes and generalisations, not universal truth. Part of why I use the text is so that when people read it they might actually question it, seeing as if they’re thinking those things then see them written down, they might wonder why those sort of things spring to mind.

I can stand peopleĀ  not liking the work, not thinking it’s subtle enough, or wanting to take away the text, but wanting me to not have worked on it at all is quite something else. There was someone who talked about having been told not to work on anything to do with any ‘issues’ by a staff member here, which I think proves that intelligence and academia is actively discouraged at this university. At foundation level she worked on the subject of human trafficking, but at degree level she’s told not to discuss female domesticity, because it’s too much work…

That one’s not so bad, because they were talking about their own experiences and not trying to tell me not to work on this, just saying that they’d been advised not to, but one girl makes my heart want to burst with rage. She said that maybe I could have got the point across with just 1 or 2 images, but I’d taken it too far. She said that she didn’t want to talk about it (so why did she start speaking infront of everyone?), because I’d used myself in the pictures, and she didn’t know whether I’d had personal experience or whether I was using myself as a prop, ‘for want of a better word.’ Then she talked about how I should be very careful, because lots of women have actually been through this, and, if she was one of them, then she’d tell me what for, trying to talk about something I didn’t understand or have personal experience of.

So, basically, offence. People pre-empting offence on the behalf of other people who havent seen my work, may never see my work, and may not even exist. The predominant theme throughout was that it’s reeeeeally hard to work on big issues like this, and that you need to research it really thoroughly (I research this obsessively), and should maybe find someone to talk to who’s actually been involved in this sort of thing, to get personal experience. As though talking to someone in the sex industry means that you’ll understand what it’s like and be able to make better work – it’s just lazy. It’s trying to prove that you’re not lazy, when actually you are and are just indulging in a bit of reaching out to and meeting undesirables. Aside from this, there’s the fact that this girl who said ‘exploited’ women would be offended was completely generalising. I even asked her whether she meant in regard to trafficking specifically, or the entire industry, and she said she meant it as a whole, which seems to mean that she thinks that any woman involved in the sex industry would react the same way to this.

I truly believe that people should be able to talk about and produce work on anything they want, whether they have personal experience on it or not. It annoys me when people create stereotypical art work based on buzzwords, but that doesnt mean that they shouldnt be allowed to do it by any means – they’re at least probably going to learn something from undertaking a project like that, even if they never bother to actually research it properly. This may seem a little conceited, but I think that my work comes across as stereotypical and cliched because it’s intended to come across that way – the propaganda was designed in order to show how shallow and simplistic those views are when they’re actually spelt out.

I’m not quite sure what could be offensive about my work other than it’s subject matter in general, seeing as it expresses so many viewpoints on the issue. Why is it suddenly considered offensive to have really strongly opinionated propaganda on sex work in an art studio when there are posters about sex work and trafficking out in public on the street, or commissioned by our government? Are they not offensive because it’s not expected that they’ll be thought about?

I don’t like doing one-up-manship, so didn’t rise to the baiting of only being able to work on this sort of thing if you have personal experience. The girl who really pissed me off for being generalising and patronising and condescending apologised to me afterwards, not for what she said, but for how she said it, although I wouldnt really say it’s an apology when you say sorry but then justify what you said. Apparently she was sorry that she bit my head off, but it was that she found out that my only experience of this was from the media, not personal experience, and that she actually does have personal experience in this sort of thing. Because I’m that sort of person, I obviously started trying to deduce exactly what sort of experience she has with this sort of thing, and I’d be willing to guess some sort of sexual abuse, but absolutely nothing to do with the commercial sex industry, although obviously I may be wrong. It’s just that when she was telling me my work might upset people who’d been through these things, she mentioned my supposed mentioning of rape in my work, which actually doesn’t come up at all. I kind of took it for granted at the time that my work explicitly and specifically had something about rape in it, but then later realised that’s not true at all, unless you’re going to argue that all sex work is rape, so I think it was just her projecting onto it.

Anyway, it was an interesting crit. Definitely worthwhile, if nerve-wrecking. At least I’m able to pretend that all the negative criticisms were because the work is meant to be obvious and bludgeoning. I still dont think that any restrictions should be put in place as to what you can and cannot work on, and that it shouldnt always always be a big competition of “well, this has happened to meeeee, so I can talk about it, and you all have to listen and believe me because I have personal experience!” It would be cathartic to play that game, but never mind. I want people to think that my work has integrity, but unfortunately by giving my work this, I’d lose any integrity that I had personally.

Posted on: November 21, 2010

Posted on: November 21, 2010

Posted on: November 21, 2010



  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se