Hey, Ladies

purses and a hammer

“Womanizer”    hammer, women’s purses   2013

This piece and incident, as described below, came to mind just yesterday as did an article from last spring, I think as a result of several things currently in the news: The WaPo’s Robin Givhan’s “Let’s talk about ‘Project Runway’ stars using ‘old lady’ to describe unflattering clothes” from April 23, 2019. Fashion, women who wear it and the men who get to decide…

This grad-school piece above was a ‘first draft’ attempt to express some degree of my lifelong rage at misogyny and the males who perpetuate it. When I presented it to my class, four young-ish men, the response was muted (these guys generally did not acknowledge the facts of sexism and they practically rejected the existence of ageism), but two of them did criticize my choice of purses. I had dug around in my own stuff and had rooted around a couple of thrift stores to find an array that suggested women of different ages, styles and incomes. These classmates told me with straight faces that the purses weren’t expensive or stylish enough, that they weren’t adequate; I could tell from their expressions that they were offended by the low-end items. In other words, these young men with limited experience in life and no experience as women, concluded my piece did not work because my materials were not expensive and designer-made, not because they did not communicate my intent. The instructor did not challenge my classmates; he pointed out a couple of confusing aspects of the piece, then hurried along, clearly not wishing to spend time talking about the world women exist in. It was a lost opportunity for all of us, I think.

So, this is what I was paying for, this is what ‘the academy’ allowed, rewarded and perpetuated. This was a few years ago; I look at today’s news and wonder how much has changed…