Sunday Edition #27: My Column in Yellow
As a fellow female street artist, I’m curious if it is important to you for people to know you are a woman. Does whether you’re known to be a woman or not seem to make a difference in the opportunities presented to you? Do you feel you need to work harder to be taken seriously since it is a very male dominated art scene?
It’s true. I am a woman.
Many of you reading this might be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, we know that already.” But, I do get quite a number of DMs on Instagram where the question is posed, “Are you a man or a woman?” It always makes me smile when it comes up because like you, I thought it was obvious, but also because I wonder why it matters (maybe they were deciding if they should ask me on a date?).
I do believe my artistic perspective is greatly impacted by being a woman. It is a significant part of my identity and alters my experiences walking through the world. My poetry would be different if I were a man. It wouldn’t be better or worse. It would just be different.
The more I step out into the art world, the more I feel the challenge of being a woman in a male dominated space. I’ve walked into many art shows that were filled with 80% or more male artists. I see woman not being considered for opportunities that made sense to have a female presence over male.
Part of me wonders if I’ve been conditioned to find all of that acceptable. I was born during Generation Y, and grew up watching the gender gap not being addressed as heavily as it is now (or I wasn’t exposed to it). I come from a business background and work in an office where 99% of the assistants are women (which I am one of) and 99% of the top executives are men.
Similar to physical pain you’ve learned to live with, you don’t know what it feels to have it any other way.
I jumped onto Google to see what the internet had to say about it all. I found an infographic by The National Museum of Women in the Arts that outlines the disparity between men and women in the arts. The facts are quite shocking.
To get another female perspective, I asked McNasty McN for her thoughts on the topic. She said, “I have run into the issue where it makes me wonder if an artist genuinely likes my art or if they are simply trying to get me to agree to go on a date with them. There have been so many times a compliment on my art ended up being a pick up line. There is also the issue of women being objectified in art. Whenever I see it happening in the gallery or on the streets, I feel the need to get up more often to prove to people that women are more than sex objects.”
The part I have felt and been the most frustrated with as a female artist is how often men feel the need to “educate” me on what I’m doing. I remember submitting a canvas during my first year in street art and having the guy I gave it to go on and on about other techniques I should have used even though I didn’t ask for help or his opinion. I watched all the men come in with their work (which was no better or worse than mine) and him not feel the need to “school” them on what they did. Even as a holder of a MBA and over 5 years experience within the advertising industry, I have had men brush off my knowledge on marketing and promotion. I usually just bite my lip and smile.
I’ve never felt like I was being spoken down to or my intelligence and self worth questioned by other female artists. And for that, I’m grateful.
I am so proud to be a woman. I’m proud of everything I’ve been able to accomplish even with the gender gap not in my favor. But ultimately, what matters to me the most are the words I write… the messages I give to the world. What doesn’t matter is what bathroom I walk into.
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