Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My misogyny bowls, and why I love them

A very exciting package turned up for me today from the talented Kim Foale (she of @frogpondsrock fame, for all Twitter people). This was a present to myself for my fast-approaching 40th birthday, something I'd first talked to Kim about months ago and ordered about 6 weeks ago, something I put time and thought into planning.

It is a set of 8 ceramic bowls, made by Kim, as beautiful and individual as you'd expect from her as an artist, but also with a little something from me in them.

Each bowl features a quote from a person in public life that I selected. Six quotes are from men, one is a newspaper headline, and one is from Bette Davis. What every quote has in common is that it demonstrates, and not very subtly, a common theme of sexism.

Here are the bowls:

Quote: "I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas..." Source: Tony Abbott

(The rest of the quote, which had to be omitted for space , reads "simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons".)

Theme: Biological Differences Mean It's Men FTW, amirite?

Quote: "When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch." Source: Bette Davis

Theme: Uppity Women are the WORST.
Quote: "I listen to feminists and all these radical gals - most of them are failures. They've blown it." Source: Jerry Falwell

Theme: Feminism. It's a consolation prize for the bitter ones.
Quote: "We've got real issues to talk about not the latest bimbo eruption." Source: Jon Huntsman

Theme: Women's concerns are trivial. Stop bothering the men with your silly lady business already.
 Quote: "Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something..." Source: Gordon Liddy about Sonia Sotomayor

Theme: Those irrational hormonal women. Sigh.
Quote: "Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access
to the mainstream." Source: Rush Limbaugh

Theme: Yes, only ugly women who can't get the menz are interested in pesky things like *rights* and *equality*.
Quote: "Another Angry Woman Wins Senate Nomination." Source: Headline in The New
York Times during the campaign of 1992.

Theme: Men are assertive and confident. Women, though? Aggressive. ANGRY.
Quote: "I went to a number of women's groups and said: "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women." Source: Mitt Romney

Theme: Women are just NOT AS GOOD AT STUFF as the men, alright? Don't yell at me, I tried! 

My husband, who thinks the bowls are physically beautiful, is confused about why I wanted them. He says that the statements make him want to smash them - except not, because they're beautiful, and that makes it all confusing. He's clearly bemused about why I want these visual reminders of how deeply and pervasively sexism is ingrained into the structures of influence and power.

Well, I want them *because* they are risible, foolish statements. I want them *because* they point up the kinds of attitudes that my three daughters will have to contend with when they go out into the world. I don't want to pretend that these ideas and attitudes, and the structural prejudices they give rise to, don't exist just because I am lucky enough to be somewhat insulated from their full effects by being a professional woman married to a feminist man. I don't want to forget, when watching the savage attacks on Julia Gillard, that something very nasty lies beneath a lot of it. I don't want to fool myself into thinking this story is over, or even well begun.

And I want them because the punchline hasn't yet arrived. I'm also getting a large serving bowl to go with these eight, and here's what it's going to say:

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.  (Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler)

And that's the sentiment that I want to serve out to each and every one of the themes expressed in my Bowls Of Sexism. That's the meta message, the answer, the pushback to each and every one of them.

That's what I want for my daughters to see.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the commission and thank you for articulating your reasons for the quotes as well. I am looking forward to making the serving bowl for you xx Kim