WTF? Museum First Proposed to Celebrate Women Is Now Dedicated to a Serial Killer

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Photo via Wikipedia

We were going to enjoy insight into women”s history, now we”ll have to endure Jack the Ripper.

Women have a hard enough time in the arts, and in history. This kind of hoodwinking isn”t helping the situation.

This past fall, former Google diversity chief Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe won approval to convert an old Victorian-era shop (or, shoppe) into a museum that would examine East London women”s contributions to society throughout history. But this week, it”s been revealed the museum is now going to be online casino about something a little…different. Namely, infamous London serial killer Jack the Ripper. Um. What?

“We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper,” Palmer-Edgecumbe said in a statement to the London Evening Standard. “It is absolutely not celebrating the crime of Jack the Ripper but looking at why and how the women got in that situation in the first place.”

“Got into that situation”? What? Who “gets into” being murdered? Instead of celebrating the accomplishments of women, they”re glorifying their deaths at the hands of a serial killer.

This is basically a snuff film in museum form.

 

ARTNews Calls Out Rampant Sexism in the Art World: Everything You Need to Know

ARTnews June 2015
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Where are all the great women artists? The gender gap in the industry may have reduced in size over the years, but as ARTnews’s June 2015 issue points out, there’s still rampant sexism in the art world.

Curator Maura Reilly begins by breaking it down numerically and structurally in her article “TAKING THE MEASURE OF SEXISM: FACTS, FIGURES, AND FIXES”, from the amount of press women artists get to museum representation statistics. For example, since 2007 only 29% of solo shows at the Whitney Museum went to women. She continues,

It’s not looking much better at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2004, when the museum opened its new building, with a reinstallation of the permanent collection spanning the years 1880 to 1970, of the 410 works on display in the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries, only 16 were by women. That’s 4 percent. Even fewer works were by artists of color. At my most recent count, in April 2015, 7 percent of the works on display were by women.

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Feminist collective The Guerrilla Girls’ “Report Card” from 1986 takes galleries to task over how many women they represented. Pussy Galore’s 2015 version show how much (and how little) has changed in 29 years.
©1986 GUERRILLA GIRLS; ©2015 PUSSY GALORE

 

Theorist Amelia Jones argues that women (as well as artists of color and queer artists) are allowed into the hegemony of the art world so long as they ape the identities and roles of straight white male artists; the purported archetype of the “artist genius”. It may behoove those on the fringes to eschew this institutional authority and develop spaces outside to foster a new kind of art world. Jones says,

While not disregarding the potential importance of large museum exhibitions and programming in foregrounding feminist goals, artists, and movements, I find […] more modest venues more creatively vital at this moment for achieving feminist goals.

She cites the Blk Grrrl Book Fair, an LA-based event this past March which combined artworks, poetry, performance and more from anti-racist, radical feminists, as “the art world I want.”

Linda Nochlin, in many regards the progenitor of the feminist art movement, spoke with Maura Reilly for the issue, touching on everything from her hatred of Tinker Bell to the landscape of feminism in the arts today:

It is undeniable that both institutions and education have changed a great deal. M.F.A. programs are now comprised of 60 percent women students. There are courses on women artists, feminism and art, contemporary women artists, etc., at major institutions of learning. This would have been unheard of in my day.

Check out all of the art world feminist goodness in the June 2015 issue of ARTnews.

Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer Slam Hollywood’s Sexism Problem, and It Gets Pretty Nasty

Lena Dunham
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Photo via The Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter gathered this year’s crop of Emmy-contending comedic actresses for a roundtable discussion and, sad to say, the conversation highlighted how sexism still permeates the industry.

“The way women are spoken to in social media is truly shocking. It’s how you imagine people screaming at prisoners in Guantanamo.” Lena Dunham said as she and Amy Schumer, Gina Rodriguez and more talked about the amount of rape threats and death threats they receive on Twitter.

Someone even wished Amy Schumer would get ovarian cancer.

Moving beyond the terror of internet trolls, the women touched upon the institutionalized discrimination faced in the industry. Dunham recalled how one man who worked on Girls made fun of her weight and said he hated his job because a man was not in charge. Tracee Ellis Ross, star of Black-ish, said working on a show run by four women (Girlfriends) set up false expectations of the industry.

There are hardly substantial roles for women in Hollywood, let alone roles for women of color. Michelle Rodriguez echoed this, and explained why she would never play a role to reinforce negative stereotypes. “When you compromise, you don’t do your best work.”

Feminism has emerged as a strong force in the entertainment industry as of late. Shonda Rhimes has created an incredibly successful television empire where straight, white, and male is not the default. But that doesn’t mean the struggle’s over by any means.

As comedic actors, lots of these women weaponize irony and humor in the fight (Schumer wrote a whole sketch of men arguing whether she was attractive enough to be on TV), but there are still long strides to be made with women in Hollywood.

Schumer ended with a sound resolution: “Let’s never apologize for anything.”

Check out the full interview at  The Hollywood Reporter.

Free the Nipple: Lina Esco Makes a Movie, Starts a Movement

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Photo: Courtesy of Free The Nipple

Most directors seek to make a movie for their debut; Lina Esco has sought to make a movement. In a true case of art imitating life (and life imitating art,) the timeline of making the just released film Free the Nipple occurred in conjunction with the start of an IRL movement, one championed by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham, and Scout Willis. Esco is firm on her statement that her primary goal isn’t to urge crowds of women to rush topless into the streets, but rather to create a dialogue.

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The movie, at its center, is in itself a piece of activism. It lies at some vaguely defined midpoint of activism and art. As far as an art form goes, “It’s not your typical Hollywood film,” Esco says…“or your typical Hollywood plotline–this is completely different.” The film is supposed to convey “what it looks like when people really want to change the world and the realistic obstacles of what really happen.”

It is about girls challenging censorship laws. Esco is baffled by society’s perception of the nipple as vulgar. To portray her feeling of dumbfoundedness, she juxtaposes the issue of female censorship with the notion that violence is much more publicly displayed. We see gunfire, bodies, bombings on TV, but a nipple is taboo. Even in cities like New York, where a female’s exposed breast has in fact, been legal since 1992. As a taboo, the nipple has thus also become a metaphor, “You would not be talking to me right now if this movie was called EQUALITY,” Esco assures me on a phone call.

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But lest you think a movie is enough for this first-time filmmaker, you’d be wrong, she hopes to use proceeds to work with a constitutional lawyer on issues surrounding censorship of the female body.

“I’ve done what I could,” she says. “The only way this movie can make an impact is if people take something out of it. I want it to open your mind to see things in a different way, it’s not about hating men. Feminism is about men and women. Feminism just means that men and women should be treated equally.” In 2014, we hope that message is clear with or without boobs involved.

Get Ready To Smash The Wiki-Patriarchy This Weekend

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Ready for some renegade e-activism to right the gender imbalance of the Internet? Tomorrow, New York’s Eyebeam joins a bevy of international organizations for the Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, a collective, participatory action directed at the online encyclopedia’s demographic ills. (According to press materials, only 13% of the site’s editors are women; as a result, “Wikipedia is clearly skewed.”)

Volunteers are invited to Eyebeam’s 540 West 21st Street location for an afternoon of concentrated editing, all with the goal of increasing the representation of women artists on Wikipedia. “There isn’t really any rhyme or reason for the absences and gaps,” Eyebeam’s organizational committee told me via email, speaking of the site’s current blind spots. “Across the board you can say that living female artists of a similar stature to their male peers don’t have pages, or their pages have much less information on them. The Edit-A-Thon will ultimately be driven by the interests of each participant: for example, co-organizer Michael Mandiberg intends to create well-cited stubs for Caroline Woolard, Kristin Lucas, and Simone Leigh.”

These BYOLaptop events (all of which offer childcare options) will unfold simultaneously at a total of 22 venues, including the Sackler Center for Feminist Art in the Brooklyn Museum; The Public School in Los Angeles; De Appel in Amsterdam; and Eastern Block in Montreal.

What prominent women artists are inexplicably missing on Wikipedia? Tell us in the comments (and then go do something about it).

The Active, Strong Women of Prada

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Considering the feminist slant in Miuccia Prada’s show in Milan, it makes sense that to decorate her runway set she would enlist six contemporary artists to paint portraits on the walls, instructing them to create “an active, strong woman,” according to WWD.  The line-up of artists included El Mac, Mesa, Gabriel Specter, Stinkfish, Jeanne Detallante, and Pierre Mornet – a list that includes men. Men can be feminists, too, you know!

All six artists only painted women’s faces, leaving bodies out entirely, to Miuccia’s surprise. But given the way women’s bodies have been cut up visually in advertising and other arenas, reducing them to no more than a set of legs or cleavage, it sort of makes sense to leave them out. A little eyes up here, please, and I have a brain, you know.

Bras worn on top of clothing and shoes that could not have been farther from sexy continued to communicate the aggressively feminist aesthetic of the show. And for what it’s worth, feminism’s not a dirty word when it doesn’t have to be, but aggression in all forms is asking for confrontation. And I will never be convinced that those shoes are appropriate, or that wearing bras on top of a shirt is chic or functional – something most women I know generally require. 

These Woman Directors Have Been Overlooked By The Academy

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Tomorrow night is the Academy Awards and yet again, no women have been nominated for Best Director. In 85 years, only four women have received a Best Director nomination and only one — Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker — has won. Bigelow was overlooked this year for her film Zero Dark Thirty, along with numerous other women directors. The blog Women & Hollywood put together a video to highlight ladies in the director’s chair who have been ignored.

  • Brenda Chapman (with Mark Andrews) for Brave
  • Lana Wachowski (with Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer) for Cloud Atlas
  • Jennifer Westfeldt for Friends With Kids
  • Ava DuVernay for Middle Of Nowhere
  • Aurora Guerrero for Mosquita Y Mari 
  • Valerie Faris (with Jonathan Dayton) for Ruby Sparks
  • Sarah Polley for Take This Waltz
  • Lynne Shelton for Your Sister’s Sister

According to the 2012 statistics from the Center for the Study of Women in Television, women only directed 9% of the top 250 domestic grossing films. Clearly, the problem of women’s representation as directors is two-fold: they need to be hired to direct in the first place, then they need to be acknowledged and encouraged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for their work. Otherwise the Oscars’ Best Director category will be the same sausagefest, year after year.  

Watch Women In Hollwyood’s video "To The Academy: Consider The Women" below: 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Diablo Cody Calls Out Some Sexist Bullshit About Her & Channing Tatum’s Sex Work Pasts

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Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody calls out sexist bullshit where she sees it, which is precisely why I love her. Chatting with NYmag.com’s Vulture blog about the third annual Athena Film Festival, which showcases the work of women in film. Cody is a co-chair of this year’s Athena festival along with actress Greta Gerwig, filmmaker Mira Nair, and others. But after chatting about the plight of women in mainstream Hollywood film, Cody discussed the topic one always seems to get to in a Diablo Cody interview: stripping.

Specifically, the screenwriter — whose forthcoming film about a conservative in Las Vegas will be called Paradise — addressed the double standard between how she and Channing Tatum have been handled in the press. Diablo Cody first got on a lot of people’s radar in her 2006 memoir, Candy Girl: A Year In The Life Of An Unlikely Stripper. A year later, her film Juno hit the big screen and she won an Academy Award for screenwriting. (Her other films, Jennifer’s Body and Young Adult, were slightly less popular, to put ti mildly.) Throughout her career, people have been all too happy to fixate on Cody’s past employment as a stripper, both positively and negatively. In fact, when I interviewed her years ago for TheFrisky.com about Jennifer’s Body, she said it "sucks" being part of the story more than her film — although we could certainly have a long debate about whether she has pushed some of that narrative herself.

Magic Mike star and beefcake hunk Channing Tatum also worked as a stripper early in his career … yet somehow, he’s seen as more randy and less trashy for doing so.  

The Vulture blogger asked Cody, "What do you make of all the love Channing Tatum’s gotten for turning his stripper past into a film, possibly a franchise?" Her response:

… I find it very interesting that a man can be a stripper, talk about it openly, go on SNL and parody it in several sketches, and nobody accuses him of leveraging his sexuality to get ahead. They applaud it. And he did make a quality film, and it obviously did really well, and it had a certain pedigree — it wasn’t trashy — but I do not think a woman would be treated the same way. I’m living proof of that. A woman’s sexuality is dangerous and threatening and dirty, and for Channing, it’s a charming tool in his arsenal. And I love Magic Mike. I love Channing. This is in no way a diss on him.

Diablo Cody has a point, a strong one. No one has ever told me that Channing Tatum "drives them crazy" or "is so annoying" or "wants attention for being a stripper." And I’ve watched the man give Ellen DeGeneres a lap dance.

I also appreciate Cody clarified she doesn’t mean to diss Tatum or his film. I would love to hear a response from him.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Beyoncé: Feminist Icon

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Anyone who knows me can attest to my love for Beyoncé, who is the most perfect human on the planet (although I wouldn’t be surprised if she weren’t a human after all and was, in fact, a supreme extraterrestrial being who was put in our midst to demonstrate to us mere mortals what perfection is). I just adore the woman and she makes me happy. Obviously her performance on Sunday at the Super Bowl halftime was fantastic, including a stellar version of “Halo” and a gracious reunion of Destiny’s Child (I mean, she didn’t have to invite Michelle). On top of that, the lady is all about the ladies, as the folks at Flavorwire gladly point out. Beyoncé for President? Beyoncé for Master of the Universe?

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.