In nakedness or elements of what it means

In order
to understand theories and movements discussed, it is first necessary to have
an awareness of feminism. There is a significant amount of research that has been
undertaken around feminism, resulting in an array of definitions, although
similar, there are variations. For the purpose of this written piece, a
definition has been created from theorists at the forefront of feminism theory,
defining feminism as a political
movement which identifies and opposes sexism, misogyny and patriarchy (Finlayson,
2016) across cultures. Feminism
is a theoretical framework which refers to a range of intellectual and
political commitments involving a broad series of ideologies (Isank, 2014).

The political and cultural movement helps promotes gender and sex equality for
women, freedom for women, and protection from sexual harassment, rape and
violence. Feminists are often represented
by journalists and other ‘right-thinking’ spokespeople as deviants (Laughey,
2007:102.). Feminists are ‘lesbians’, ‘man-eaters’, ‘man-hater’, ‘loners’,
‘extremists’ (Friedan, 1992). According to Barbara Friedan (1992) it goes
without saying that these media representations of feminism are false and
stirred up by the traditional moralist view that feminists are a threat to
social order, family life and human reproduction. Forty years after the birth
of women’s liberation movement, there is continuous energy between the 1970’s
feminist art and contemporary artwork made by women (Johnson, 2013), whether
including their own nakedness or elements of what it means to be a feminist.

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The feminism’s history can be split into
three waves (Walker, 1992; Humm, 2003)
however, other theorists speak of four waves (McRobbie, 2004; Gill, 2007;
Tasker and Negra, 2007) relating to specific achievable foci and form a
historical timeline. The first wave consisted of the suffrage movement; Suffrage
referred to the act of voting and franchise the right to vote, which strongly
helped shape ideas about leadership throughout history, and spans from early
1800’s to the present time. When the first wave commenced in the mid 19th
century, the first women’s rights convention organised by Lucrietia Mott and
Elizabeth Stanton was held in the U.S, and lasted until the mid 1900’s. The
focus of this movement was on women’s right to vote, women gaining civil
rights, equal access to education and health care. This wave tapered off during
the 1940’s as countries granted women the right to vote, which was one of their
goals (Goethals,
Sorenson, Burns, 2004:1675). Thomas
Wickert (2012) declared the ‘Suffrage’ had contributed to the passing of laws
and prevented laws, it intended to provide justice; “Even the most extended
system of suffrage has not included all persons” (2012:43). Wickert referring to the
movement being for rich to middle class white women, this right to vote, which
not have included the poor or ethnic minorities. In the figure xxx, it is obvious to see that the women
protesting are in fact white, upper class rich women. In comparison, the rights
that the suffragettes fought for, can be considered a bias movement to some extent; then this goes against what
it stands for; for example, gender equality and civil rights.

Figure 1
‘Suffrage Procession’, The Suffragettes 1911.

Following this wave, in the 1950s, with the
growth in consumerism (Rappaport, 2001) and the introduction of the term Housewife, what it means
‘to be a woman’ became the central issue (Laughey, 2007). Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex (1949), argues
that the work of the housewife proceeds from a ‘negative basis’, that she is a worn-out
woman “waging a ‘battle dust and dirt that is never won’, the housewife wears
herself out” (Munford, Waters, 2014:84). The woman is considered to wash, iron, sweep, ferret out
fluff form under wardrobes- all this halting of decay is also the denial of
life (Beauvoir:1949) later echoed by Betty Friedan (1963:264):

It is urgent to understand how the very condition
of being a housewife can create a sense of emptiness, non-existence,
nothingness, in women. There are aspects of the housewife role that make it
almost impossible for a woman of adult intelligence to retain a sense of human
identity, the firm core of self or ‘I’ without which a human being, man or
woman, is not truly alive.

 

Friedan (1963) perceived women to feel alone
whilst idealising this term, therefore, portrayed a sense of emptiness, suggesting
that a woman is not her true self, that she is ‘a puppet on string’ and not
accepting the adultness of the role. In her book, The Feminine Mystique (1963), she identified a fifteen year period
after World War II in the United States, when the ‘suburban housewife’ became
the feminine ideal upon which American women were expected to build their lives.

She writes about this ‘happy housewife’ heroine, a myth perpetrated by media
and socially accepted to be the ‘image of a good woman’ (Friedan 1992:30). Whelehan
(1995), acknowledged the need for women to challenge Hegemonic masculinity-
male domination and female intimidation (Schippers, 2007). Femininity it itself
was very much seen in a position of demotion in relation to masculinity
(Connel, 1987), with the union of marriage being used as a device to enforce
this male dominance (Marx and Engles, 1978). In order to create a balance
between genders, a neural point considering factors such as protection, safety,
welfare of relationships and family is vital.

 

In 1975, at the height of second wave
feminism (Laughey, 2007) and as a manifestation of the link between women and the kitchen.

The resettlement from second wave feminism came about when many of the legal
institutional rights failed. Thus, the Second wave of feminism arrived with the
1960’s and included the Women’s Liberation Movement that campaigned for equal
rights on issues such as employment, marital relationships and sexual
orientation (Laughey, 2007). This wave was seen as the ‘New Social Movement’
which began in the early 1960’s and lasted well into the late 1980’s. The focus
in this wave was on the rights of women in the workplace along with equal
salary for equal work in the workplace between men and women. This wave also
concentrated on fair opportunities for married women and sharing the same
anti-patriarchal values and the same goal of equality between sexes (Laughey,
2007). Although the equal pay act was established in 1969, the discrimination
act against women did not settle until 1984.

 

Third wave feminism attempted to bridge the gap
between second wave politics and the ‘personal choice’ rhetoric of
post-feminism by arguing that women’s personal choice must be politically
contextualised. The gradual introduction of postmodernism influenced what would
become the third wave of feminism which began to develop from the 1990’s
onwards. The third wave ideology, focused on a post structuralism understanding
of gender and sexuality. ‘Post-feminism’, as it is commonly known, claims that
“no singular perspective on feminism can speak for women across the multiple
difference of class and race” (Oullette 2002:318). The failure of the legal
establishments of the second wave, including the creation enforcement of sexual
harassment policies for women in the workplace, child care services, access to
contraception and other reproductive services (including legalising abortion)
plus many more, has served as a foundation for the third wave. Since the early
1980’s there has been a continual critique of second-wave feminism. In E. Ann
Kaplan’s (2012) book Looking for the other, she identifies women as continuing
to develop as a cultural and social category. This suggests that there is already a
development for the fourth wave, to which is present to this day, some which
think shifted the third wave to fourth wave around 2005. Many have expressed
concern on how it differs from the waves that came before, however this wave consists
of the rising evolution of social media (Tichler,2015).

Whilst the internet has
emerged increasingly over the years, questions have risen concerning the amount
of internet usage by women, and how technology play a role in accelerating the
fourth wave in feminism. In Ealasaid Munro’s (2013) article, Feminism: A Fourth
Wave, she argues that the fourth wave has been supported by the internet.

Enduring the rise of social media, it has not only impacted but challenged
sexism and misogyny. This suggests even to this day, each coming wave,
feminists still find women being under-represented, for example the small
percentage of seats taken up by women in political governments. Munro (2013),
implies that feminism must not only be progressed in the wave narrative, but
also outside, to continue the openness of feminism.

 

Feminism in Art

According to Silvia Bovenschen’s 1976 book Is
there a Feminine Aesthetic?, Art has been primarily discovered by men.

Bovenschen (1976), declared that men have neatly separated and dominated the
public sector, and that they have defined the normative standards for
evolution. Feminism
has made a contribution to the avant-garde and / or modernist arts of the
1970’s (Lippard, 1995). In her book (1995) ‘The Pink Glass’, Lippard quotes, ‘Feminism’s greatest contribution to the future of
art has probably been precisely its lack of contribution to modernism’. Both
Feminism and post modernism have emerged as two of the most important political-cultural
currents of the last decade: they have tried to rethink the relation between philosophy
and social criticism as to develop paradigms of criticism without philosophy
(Nicholson, 1990).

 

In 1975, at the height of second wave
feminism (Laughey, 2007) and as a manifestation of the link between women and the kitchen,
Birgit Jürgenssen represents
her female body that has merged with a kitchen stove to form a new organism
(Mörtenböck, Mooshammer 2014:37).

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