The above photo is a Joan Semmel self-portrait.
The one positive that came as a result of Trump becoming president is that women are finally able to speak out against sexism, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. When we now have a president who is on tape saying: "Grab them by the pussy," what more do we have to lose? What do we gain by staying silent when the leader of the United States has displayed a complete lack of respect for women? We've already hit rock bottom.
I've compiled a list of four female artists who I feel have created works of art that reflect our newfound freedom to express ourselves in ways that go against the grain of what we've previously expected from women artists. Some of these brave works were created before the Trump era, but they should be revisited because they perfectly reflect this move towards a change in consciousness. These examples of their art below bend our way of thinking and push us toward new directions in our roles as women:
1. "Locker Room Talk" (song/video by Dolltits) - Musician/Songwriter Therina Bella and Musician Magie Serpica have refused to let Trump's "Grab them by the pussy" words be forgotten. Instead, they've recorded a song and video that will keep his words remembered forever, and they've laid it all out in the open by using Trump's own actual words as every single lyric in the song. We've all heard Trump's own words in the recording of the "Access Hollywood Locker Room Tapes": "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful...It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything...grab them by the pussy. You can do anything." All of these words sting, but my particular favorite part of Dolltits' video is when a little girl appears and sings along to the line: "You'll never be a 10." This stings even more than the "pussy words" because think of the message the president of the United States has given to young girls by rating females for their supposed "beauty" or lack of it? Think about it.
Dolltits (Still from "Locker Room Talk" video)
2. Joan Semmel - A female painter born in 1932, Semmel decided to paint female nudes in the 1970's, but the dilemma of painting the female nude body - which was usually seen as an object of desire for men - created a conflict with her identity as a feminist. Semmel resolved this problem rather perfectly when, while in her seventies, she took nude mirror selfies and then painted them. It is rare to see older women in nude paintings much less based on nude photos they have taken as selfies! Women continue to be sexually active throughout their eighties and beyond, so why shouldn't Semmel paint her own nude female body too? Semmel is an inspiration as an older woman who refuses to be pushed into the background and meant to feel that only younger women can openly display their bodies.
3. "Trapeze" (book by Anais Nin) - Nin was born in 1903 and is best known for the publication of her Diaries which are the unabashed, brave and honest account of a woman constantly torn between needing to identify herself as an artist and wanting to take care of the men and friends she loves. Nin struggled to not confine herself to the traditional role of woman, and her diaries depict this battle of gaining her own identity separate from the men in her life. By the time she wrote the diaries that were published last year as "Trapeze," she was living a complicated bi-coastal lifestyle in which she had a longtime husband, Hugo, who lived on the East Coast in New York City, but also had a new lover, Rupert, who lived on the West Coast in California. "Trapeze" shows her near impossible feat of bouncing back and forth from coast to coast while keeping each relationship secret from the other. In Nin legend, before "Trapeze" was released and we could get her uncensored version of the story, it was believed that Nin only remained with Hugo out of loyalty and really wanted to be with Rupert full time. Most romantic tales would have us believe that too: The long-suffering wife as the victim whose unfaithfulness we forgive because she really only seeks love just like every other woman and has no other reasons behind her bad behavior. But in "Trapeze," we learn that Nin enjoyed the wealthy, New York lifestyle she had with Hugo where she had a maid and could be a writer 24/7. She claimed the sex was better with Rupert, but he drove her crazy with his fastidiousness and insistence that they save money and eat dinner in, and that she do all the housecleaning herself. After a couple of months of this, she often couldn't wait to get back to Hugo and her New York lifestyle. In "Trapeze," Nin gets real and admits that she has chosen to stay with both men because of her own needs. She doesn't try to write a romantic story with a happy ending. Instead, she tells the truth of her story wherein she makes the best out of her imperfect relationships and imperfect life. She does this with a maturity we don't always see in both fiction and memoirs of women who are often depicted as near children and as victims of the people and circumstances around them.
4. "Peek Hour" (short story by Adrea Kore) - Kore's brilliant and sexy short story refuses to stay silent on an issue that women usually don't speak about: penises. At least, they don't usually speak about it in the manner that female protagonist Roxy in "Peek Hour" does. Roxy has what she describes as "feelings of affection and admiration of the penis." Her favorite thing to do is ride the crowded train where she weasels her way into the specific seat that gives her the best view of the "packages" of the men standing closest to her. She says the men don't even notice that she's eyeing their pants because they've traditionally been too busy focusing on HER parts so it never even occurs to them that she's obsessed with stealthily examining THEIR parts. She examines their bulges and notices their different sizes and shapes and whether they lean to the left or the right. She laments the fact that most penises are hidden away and wishes to liberate them all. She wants to build giant statues of them so they can be monuments that people can visit. While she fantasizes about these things, the bumps of the train often force men's crotches into her face. This excites her, and she says it happens so fast, the men usually don't notice, and it's her little secret. She does whatever she can to brush into men's crotches "by accident." I love this story and find Kore's depiction of Roxy's penis obsession fascinating because for once we can see a woman's point of view of the penis that doesn't seen to be influenced at all by the man's point of view of his penis.
This is a penis sticker by Luna Snaps that is on Redbubble.
I hope to spread the word about these amazing artists and their music, stories and paintings! Women have been categorized, marginalized and misunderstood for too many years. We have different things to express than what has previously been expected of us. These women are my favorite examples of a new feminine consciousness, and they remain such inspirations to me!
You can find my Top 4 at their websites listed below. Please check them out!