I Need Feminist Art and Media. So Do You.

I need feminism because I am a girl figuring out how to be a woman (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez).
I need feminism because I am a girl figuring out how to be a woman (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez).

I need feminism.

I need feminism because I have never felt so aware. I have never felt more at home in my own body and mind and have never felt more myself.

I need feminism because I am becoming a woman in a world where I am taught that I don’t have a voice and that scares me.

Feminism is like religion. I feel as though it gives me a narrative through which I can live my life, make decisions, and form my virtues.

It’s the vehicle for my heart and soul to express its individuality. It’s a vehicle that I never knew I had access to and that I never knew existed. As an artist, I am always looking for ways to release my passion and feminism feels like the superpower that could let me do more than any bird ever could.

I’ve come to understand so many things in the two and a half months that I’ve been taking this course, and I have become a more aware person in the process.

In a world where most of my natural habitat (New York City) is cluttered with media, I have somehow found a way to walk through it all. The messages are so overwhelming. Even the fact that the ads are on billboards towering over me like giants, shows the way the media is constantly begging for attention, begging for passers to look out of their car window or up from their park bench and suddenly realize that they need the product being sold or that they should believe whatever that company is telling them.

Even in the short 16 years I have existed, I’ve noticed the rapid evolution of media as it has moved from the physical, tangible world to cyberspace. However, the messages are still the same: buy this car/deodorant/shampoo/suit/tie/cologne because you can attract sexy women by doing so. Or buy this dress/shampoo/perfume/makeup to make men notice you. But there’s also still that standard for men to be strong and dominant and for women to be alluring but not “slutty.”

Sean John's ad for I Am King colognesource: http://nymag.com/thecut/2008/08/diddy_wants_to_anoint_you_with.html
Sean John’s ad for I Am King cologne source: http://nymag.com/thecut/2008/08/diddy_wants_to_anoint_you_with.html

We no longer have the tools to properly understand the world around us. Reader, you need feminism too, because you probably didn’t notice that the cologne ad P. Diddy (a.k.a Sean Diddy Combs, Sean Jean) put out objectifies women and glorifies the sole fact that he is a man wearing cologne.

Yes, the problem is that children are not taught how to understand media or realize that it needs to be understood in the first place, but why are we not doing more to teach them? How can we teach the world how to understand how to develop a feminist lens?

While media can be the problem, media can also be the solution. Feminist media, that is. New questions that we can pose with feminist media are: Where are the messages that make you realize something new about the world? How can we begin to teach media literacy through feminist media? And how can we make it mainstream so that enough people see it?

As an artist, I strive to make someone feel a familiar emotion and understand it. Artists make art for different reasons: some to invade your space or some to make you stop and think or some to challenge your depth. My ultimate goal is to make you remember that feeling that you couldn’t really put your finger on or feel that memory you almost forgot and make you feel something new and old at the same time.

By coming to a new awareness through feminism, I have realized that I want to infuse the two. I always feel like the rules of art do not have the same confines as those of morality which can sometimes be a problem or the solution. Some might say that the derogatory perfume ads we see every day could be considered art. Maybe that’s true, but the same type of “art” gets used all the time in mainstream media.

It’s hard to get people to notice an ad unless it’s on a huge billboard or on TV. But there needs to be more documentaries like Miss Representation that challenge mainstream America and force us to analyze world around us.

Art comes in many forms and media happens to be one form of it, even though I find it hard to accept art as a form of consumerism since it is more selfish by its very nature.

This is where feminist art and feminist media can do work together. There should be more art targeted to women, about women, and created by women. Not to say that men should be excluded, but don’t we live in a world where men dominate almost every industry? Why not take a stance like Ms. Magazine and show the stories that are worth reading about?

I’ve rarely seen art of women by women, for women. This could be an interpretive dance, or a song, or a play, or a sculpture or painting. Some might argue that there are women artists in mainstream media such as Nick Minaj or Lil Kim. But they still put down women calling other women hoes and cunts and throw around threats. Women seem to feed into their own stereotype when they portray themselves as spiteful and competitive, fighting with each other. The media catches a video of Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey fighting and it goes viral within a couple of days with millions of views.

But an inspirational video about commercially sexually exploited children is put out by a very popular female artist, Mary J. Blige, and it only gets a few thousand views.

There are few feminist artists who have made an impact on media. Those who did were women who lived before a time where the world is accessible to anyone with a smart phone or computer. But women such as Frieda Kahlo were so magnificent because they dared not to succumb to the messages that that media so desperately wants us to believe.

Frieda Kahlo - Self Portraitsource: http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/surrealism/Frida-Kahlo.html
Frieda Kahlo – Self Portrait source: http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/surrealism/Frida-Kahlo.html

We need to find a way to make feminist media more heard and seen. This is why YOU need feminism. And this is why I want to become an artist who takes a stance and creates art that is to be felt with the heart and mind.

3 thoughts on “I Need Feminist Art and Media. So Do You.

  1. I absolutely love this blog post! It’s written in a very poetic style and I think it’s wonderful how you want to incorporate art, something that has always been a passion of yours, and feminism, a newly discovered passion. I had never really thought about this before as a future for feminism, but I’m so glad you brought it to the forefront. I really hope you continue with these passions and create some feminist art of your own!

  2. I love how you critique the media and offered outlets of expression and examples of how to combat it, such as feminist art and the magnificent artists like Frieda Kahlo. This subliminal messaging from the media is toxic to us all and will only get worse unless we stop it.

  3. Fantastic post. The visual aspects of your blog really helped to further your point and the purpose in your writing.

    “While media can be the problem, media can also be the solution.” You crtically analyzed the way media has affected your life, and how it shapes the lives of many. I also liked how you put the solution. How if feminist media can take the reins of media overall, everyone would be recieving an enriching and informative message, instead of the constant degreading and juvenille messages we recieve today.

    I am fascinated to learn that you want to further your feminist activism through art. I think that is extreamely wonderful and fascinating. I can not wait to see what you will achieve in the future.

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