Category Archives: Women

Nasty Women at the Met Museum

Wounded Amazon, 1st–2nd century A.D. Metropolitan Museum, NY

“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” That’s the pointed question that the feminist art collective Guerilla Girls printed on a poster in 1989 to expose the dearth of female artists—compared to the bounty of naked female subjects—on the walls of New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

Edith Minturn Stokes by John Singer Sargent
Metropolitan Museum, NY

“Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Section are women, but 85% of the nudes are female,” read the poster’s potent subhead.

So begins Alexxa Gotthardt’s review of the “Nasty Women” tour of the Met by Andrew Lear. To counter this unfortunate truth, Art historian Lear has a organized a tour of the museum that focuses on influential, if largely unknown, women.

“There are so many feisty, tough women artists and subjects at the Metropolitan,” says Lear as a group gathers around him. “So when a certain unappealing man used the phrase ‘nasty woman’ on television last fall, I thought ‘God damnit, I’m going to organize a tour showing that these women exist in art—and how powerful they were in life.”

“Nasty Women” is not Lear’s first thematic tour of the Met. “Gay Secrets of the Metropolitan” explored homosexuality in the Met’s collection. “Shady Ladies” was a romp past sculptures and paintings of courtesans and ladies of the night. “Nasty Women” has been sold out in advance since it opened in March. Read more about it here.

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Women on the march

International Women’s Day in New York City— beautiful, brisk, and perfect for marching, cheering, chatting, comiserating and consoling. Women of all ages and all colors were united in their will to resist the Trump agenda. If women were striking, I did not see them. But the women I did see were marching for their less fortunate sisters who did not have the luxury of taking time off from work. They demonstrated their solidarity with the many women in the US and around the world who work very hard for long hours and minimal pay. Some are not paid at all. They marched for equal pay, reproductive freedom and the health care they now have with the Affordable Care Act. They marched to restore clean air and clean water, and public education for their children.

Young

Eight-year old Ravan Peterson (below, left) was delighting everyone who heard her with her enthusiastic support of women everywhere. “Women are stronger than men.” She said she was “marching to support all women, but especially women who are suffering all over the world.”

Older

 

Black

 

White

The sign reads, “Tinkle, tinkle little czar. Putin put you where you are.” Golden showers fall on the umbrella.

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Stand up on International Women’s Day

Women’s rights are human rights. Wear red in solidarity with women across the US and in more than 30 countries. March 8 will be A Day Without a Woman, in which women who can will take the day off from paid and unpaid labor and avoid shopping.

Show up at town halls and petition your members of congress to repair Obamacare. Speak up for the gutted EPA, clean water and clean air. Insist on the importance of public education, of the arts and of a social safety net to provide the necessities, like nutritious food and health care to those who can’t provide for themselves. Defend regulations that were put in place to protect people from predatory lenders, to safeguard public health, to keep the stock market honest. The fabric of American democracy is being rent by a blitz of lethal blows. You know of others that also affect you personally. Stand up! Make yourself heard! There is power in numbers.

Read Emily Crockett’s “The ‘Day Without a Woman’ strike, explained.” She’s done a masterly job of examining the “gendered revolt” kicked off by the Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Recognition of African-American Women in 1960s long overdue

civrtsmarch

Now, as Black History Month begins, is an ideal time to celebrate the heroism of the largely unsung African-American women who put their lives on the line, fighting next to their men.

Few of the women activists in Martin Luther King’s day—women whose zeal and courage matched his—earned lasting fame. In the 1960s, women’s voices didn’t carry very far, despite the fact that their activism was critical to the movement. The resounding chorus of men, few of whom realized or acknowledged the intelligence and dedication of the black and white women who worked and protested alongside them, all but drowned them out. Of those women, only Daisy Bates, who spearheaded the desegregation of the Little Rock Schools, spoke at the rally that concluded the famous 1963 March on Washington.

A half-century later, black and white women organized massively: On January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands of women marched not only in Washington, but in cities and towns across the U.S. Their voices reverberated throughout the world.

Here are some of the African-American women of the 60s whose stories must be told again: Continue reading

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Women united to fight for rights

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Streaming to march into Manhattan

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Forty-second St. and Park Ave.

The day after President Trump’s inauguration wasn’t an especially beautiful day in New York City, but it was perfect for marching: not too cold, not too hot, cloudy but not rainy.

And march New Yorkers did— hundreds of thousands of women and men and children filled the streets and sidewalks, marching from the United Nations by the East River to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. They marched in solidarity with their sisters in the original Women’s March on Washington. The New York demonstration was one of the Sister Marches throughout the country. In all, an estimated 3.3 million people took part. They gathered support from every continent as women all over the world marched with them.

In midtown Manhattan, streets were spilling over with people who could barely move. The subways were teeming with rivers of humanity. When they finally reached the street above, they found a wall of marchers. On 42nd Street, it took 10 minutes to wade through and cross to the other side, one hour to advance one block. But no one complained. Courtesy and friendliness prevailed. The sense of community pervaded the throng because all were committed to the same goal: to hold on to the hard-won gains made in the last six decades. They carried signs that championed civil rights, women’s rights, healthcare and reproductive rights. A concern about climate change was another common theme, and politics was everywhere. The new president is not popular and that was reflected in most of the signs.

I asked psychotherapist and artist Judy Warren why she was marching. “Because I have to,” she answered. “Everything in me makes me do this because I am so dismayed and disheartened at what has happened in this election and the kinds of things that Donald Trump stands for. They are so opposed to all my values— values of equality, freedom and caring that Obama represented.” Continue reading

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Meryl Streep’s righteous anger

merylstreepSunday night at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. The outspoken Streep, ever the political activist, stepped up to the bully pulpit she’d been given, and launched into an emotionally charged diatribe against the president-elect without ever calling him by name.

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective, and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

“Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence,” she said.

Streep named actors Viola Davis, African-American and daughter of a sharecropper and Dev Patel, born in Kenya and raised in London, and others who are “people from other places,” because “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners.” Trump would exclude them from a native-born, white society— and what a great loss that would be.

Monday morning at 6:30 Trump responded to Streep’s remarks as the jejune narcissist he repeatedly has shown himself to be: his only comeback when he feels slighted or criticized is to demean the person he feels has disrespected him. Resorting to Twitter, his favorite means of communication, he called Streep, the most celebrated of actors, “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.” (She is in fact the most nominated, 409 times, 19 for Oscars and 30 for Golden Globes; plus 157 awards.)

The most honored artist in Hollywood called on the press to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and entreated the public to join her “in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re going to need them going forward.”

Trump constantly reviles the press. The First Amendment is our bulwark against tyranny, and it is under siege. Meryl Streep’s outrage should be felt by every American.

 

Photo by Andreas Tai – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4944442

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Mulling it over two days later

In the immediate hours after the election, I was reeling and I wrote something I regret. I realize it’s not true:

It’s over now. It’s over for Hillary and for many of her contemporaries who fought so hard for civil and women’s rights and were finally closing in on the unattainable prize. That cohort may not live to see a woman in the White House.

It’s never over. Hillary won’t be president, but she’s not going to stay home and bake cookies. She never has. I am confident she will continue to serve.

As for her contemporaries, they’re not staying on the sidelines either. It’s time to plan for the next election. Elizabeth Warren, where are you?

As for the rest, be active and get involved! That’s how you make a difference.

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