The Art of Feminism

I recently took a course on Contemporary Art and one evening the class focused on feminist art.  We saw a video on a curated show on current feminist art in the US.  The art show featured some very funny, ironic work by young artists.  Some of the more established women artists were interviewed about their struggle to gain recognition.

In discussion afterward, two women in the class suggested that the need for feminism was in the past.  They were immediately countered by a young woman in her twenties who was from another country.  She had been the first woman to train as a Director of Photography at her school and the male students had made it very difficult for her.

After the class, I thought of J.   When she was young, J and her friends forced a large well-known manufacturer to hire women in the company plant.  There had always been women employed in the company office but when J. and her friends applied for the well-paid jobs in the plant, they were turned down.  The company would not employ women in that area. 

The young women then went to the press and politicians with their case and drummed up so much public support that the company was forced to hire them.  In an attempt to get them to quit, the company gave them jobs that involved some danger.    The attempt was futile – J. enjoyed the work.

Time passed and J. became pregnant with her first child.  There were chemical fumes in the plant and she was worried – not for herself, but for the health of her unborn child.  She asked the company if she could be transferred to the office until the baby was born.  The company refused.

J. then went to the press again and fought another public battle.  The company had to relent.  She was transferred to the office for the duration of her pregnancy.

When J.’s son was born,  a photograph of them was featured on the front page of the city newspaper.

Right on, J!


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