October 2013: GUERRILLA GIRLS' RETROSPECTIVE 1985-2013 AT ALHONDIGA BILBAO PLUS OTHER RECENT STUFF
View past editions:
October 2012: WE'RE INVADING MINNESOTA TO SUPPORT SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND FIGHT VOTER ID ... PLUS DROPPING A BOMB ON D.C.
March 2012: MAKING TROUBLE AT THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM, LAUNCH OF NEW THE GUERRILLA GIRLS' ART MUSEUM ACTIVITY BOOK
February 2012: NOT READY TO MAKE NICE: GUERRILLA GIRLS IN THE ARTWORLD AND BEYOND
Spring 2011: THE GUERRILLA GIRLS' GUIDE TO BEHAVING BADLY
May 2010: CELEBRATING 25 YEARS! THE FIRST GG POSTERS WENT UP IN MAY, 1985!
March 2010: DISTURBING THE PEACE IN MONTREAL AND PARIS
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The Dish on Discrimination FALL 2007
GUERRILLA GIRLS IN SHANGHAI, CHINA
Just this September we were invited to be a part of an “art intervention” at the Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair 07. We designed 4 posters on sandwich boards that were carried around the fair and the streets of Shanghai. See them here.
"BIRTH OF FEMINISM MOVIE POSTER" IN ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
The sexy ladies of the revolutionary blockbuster now adorn the entire façade of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Arts Center in Rotterdam! Check out photos here.
WOMEN, POWER AND PEACE CONFERENCE
In September we attended an amazing weekend of workshops and lectures, organized by Eve Ensler, creator of the Vagina Monologues, and Vday together with the Nobel Women's Initiative, a group of female Nobel Peace Prize laureates who use their notoriety to strengthen work being done in support of woman’s rights all around the globe.
Over 800 attendees confabbed for 3 days about the undeniable connection between women and sustainable peace. It was inspiring to hear what Betty Williams with the World Centers of Compassion for Children International is doing to create safe zones for children caught in war zones, what Jody Williams has done to disarm landmines, and what is being done by Christine Schuler Deschryver in the Republic of Congo to medically repair women brutally raped by guerrilla fighters.
We met Malalai Joya, a fearless Afghani who publicly denounced corrupt connections between war lords, drug lords and her fellow MPs in the Loya Jurga. Rada Boric from Zagreb, explained how the violence that tore apart the former Yugoslavia didn't stop when the war was over: it just went home in the form of alcoholism, domestic violence and child abuse.
Throughout Women, Power and Peace, the relevance of global feminism in building a better world was a given, and it was a relief not to have to spend time explaining the connections between patriarchy, war and violence. Women, Power and Peace was funded by the same visionary philanthropist-activist behind the Future Feminisms Conference at MoMA last January.
BEFORE WE GO ON....
Let's think for a minute about the Iraqi women and children caught in the current US-led war and UN sanctions. Iraqi women are looking back with nostalgia at the days when there was still infrastructure and employment and when their towns were multi-ethnic and multicultural. Now, they are often subjected to the threats and codes of Islamist militants, used as bargaining chips by U.S. forces and in turn becoming potential victims of honor crimes. Women are often the last to eat, after feeding their husbands and children, and agonize as they watch their children suffer from malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases. Even under these dire conditions though, women have mobilized, formed locally-based women’s collaboratives and pooled their resources in order to address practical needs of healthcare, housing and education.
SOLVING A PROBLEM BY MAKING IT GO AWAY...
Hetero high school traditions like Homecoming King and Queen die hard. But in Potsdam, New York this fall, students shook things up. The girls’ swim team decided the perfect couple for their celebration were both women. The guidance counselor told them the election was for one male and one female only. They threatened to write in "fe" before the "male" on the ballot and wore t-shirts to school that said "GAY is OK." The counselor played hooky from school for a couple of days while the principal tried to defuse the situation by taking a poll among students. Students in this small, out of the way town overwhelmingly supported the idea of same sex couples wearing the crowns. So what did the administration do? They cancelled this year’s election. Will someone keep an eye on Potsdam Central High and make it live up to student opinion in 2008?
BIG LOVE, BIG CROCK
The HBO mini-series Big Love makes for great entertainment -- playing into male fantasies of having lots of women simultaneously. The show serves up a voyeur’s peak at an aberrant version of family life in America: polygamy, practiced by small sects of Mormon fundamentalists. (Polygamy was officially abandoned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1890).
But let's face it, no matter how sex-in-the-city-slash-desperate-housewives-ish this may all seem (the show website quizzes- are you a Nicki, Margene or Barb?) these sects -- whether in Hollywood or in Utah -- are about male domination. We saw real-life Mormon fundamentalism in action during the trial of Warren Jeffs. As prophet and leader of a large polygamous sect, he commanded the marriages of his followers, often involving underage girls and much older men. One brave woman who testified against him had been married at 14, against her will, to a cousin. She summed it up: "This trial is not about religion nor a vendetta. It is simply about child abuse and preventing child abuse." Jeffs was convicted and faces a long prison term.
The Jeffs trial shows us a pocket of American culture as misogynist as any fundamentalist religion we're fighting, both in the US and in other parts of the world.
CURATORS OF CONSCIENCE UNITE!!!
Last spring we did a project for the Washington Post about the low numbers of women and artists of color in DC museums. We dissed the National Gallery of Art for not having a single work by an African-American artist on display. When the museum realized we were going to print that fact, they hurried installed a sculpture by Martin Puryear. So big deal, we printed the fact that they had only one work on display by an African-American artist.
After our project appeared in the Post, a group of 21 women at the National Gallery got together and pooled personal funds to buy some of our posters to donate to the Gallery’s permanent collection. The group includes eight curators, four conservators, an editor and a translator, two designers, a development officer, a special events coordinator, a press officer, and a research assistant. They also formed their own in-house advocacy group, the Gallery Girls, each with her own pseudonym of a dead woman artist. A few members: Jane Bissell Grabhorn, Alice Guy-Blache, Samella Lewis and Gwendolyn Knight. (If you don't recognize them, time to do some research!) We’ll be watching to see if they make a difference.
We hope this idea spreads and curators of conscience everywhere begin to organize and bear witness to the fact that museums today must tell the whole story of our visual culture, not just the white male part. A similar group formed at MoMA last winter and we'll be watching them, too!
AND THE PALME D'HorREUR GOES TO.......LE FESTIVAL DE CANNES!!
The 2007 Cannes Film Festival commissioned 34 filmmakers to each direct a three-minute movie on the subject of movies, to be screened as appetizers before officially-selected features. The resulting anthology was called “To Each His Own Cinema.” What’s not so appetizing? Out of 34 filmmakers, only one woman (Jane Campion) made the cut.
What a shame. We can easily list 34 accomplished women directors (see list below) who would have actually made the anthology, well, an anthology. But perhaps things were doomed from the beginning with a series title that perpetuates the prehistoric idea that cinema is always one man’s very own, very precious, and tortured vision. Maybe it’s too much to ask an old, prestigious and influential institution to think outside….. le can.
But what if each male filmmaker, after seeing the ridiculously lopsided line-up, had shared half of his commission with one of his female contemporaries?! Allison Anders could be sponsored by her proclaimed hero and friend Wim Wenders. Abbas Kiarostami could commission Iranian new wave filmmaker Samira Makhmalbaf (her first feature screened at Cannes in 1998 when she was 17!). Cherchez les femmes!
Here are just 34 established women directors that came to mind.. feel free to add to the list!
Trinh T. Minh-ha
Fanta Regína Nacro
BRAVA GONDOLIERA! BRAVA!
Slowly, slowly Alexandra Hai travels through the canals of Venice, but she’s not on her honeymoon, and the waters are far from romantic. All 425 of Venice’s gondoliero’s are men, but as Venice’s 426th gondola operator, Alexandra Hai, 40, has become the first female gondoliera. After a ten year battle, Hai won the right to operate her own gondola through the historic canals of Venice, as long as they are guests of the hotel Hai works for. Many of the gondoliers are not happy with the change, claiming that women do not have the strength to navigate and maneuver the 35-feet gondolas, but Alexandra Hai is paddling on, even though she says, “I would have preferred to do something more useful in life, like helping save the rain forests.” Ms. Hai follows in the footsteps of Ljubica Gunj, who eight years ago became the first woman allowed to wait on customers at tables in Venice’s main square, the Piazza San Marco.
STOP CRYING 'TEEN PREGNANCY!' ONLY 7% OF ABORTIONS OCCUR IN MINORS
Unintended pregnancies and abortions in the U.S. are not a teen issue, they’re an adult issue. 48% of the 1.3 million annual abortions occur in women over the age of 25; 45% in women 18-25.
Other recent statistics:
50% of pregnancies are unintended
4 in 10 of those unintended pregnancies end in abortion
Pregnancies for 15-17 year olds are down 35% since 1995
92% of abortions occur in women who said they used birth control
1 in 3 women will have an abortion during her lifetime
WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY: HEAR THEM ROAR!
"We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.” Ursula LeGuin. That quote begins a book of essays by and about women in technology. To Sir, with Love: How To Get More Women Involved in Open Source, My Fabulous Geek Career and We Have the Technology to Change are just some of the myriad essays that have been brought together. Read them here.
WOMEN WE'VE LOST
Clinical psychologist, and president and board member of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, Bettye Travis, died at the age of 55 after losing a long battle with cancer. Ms. Travis fought the common assumption that “fat” equaled “lazy,” and that people are responsible for their size. She worked tirelessly to lessen the stigma of being fat, a term she used with no apology, and during her tenure at the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, developed workshops that addressed issues concerning large children and their parents. Ms. Travis was determined not to let children suffer the way people of her generation had—losing out on jobs and healthcare services because of their size. “We were taught that fat people are stupid or worthless, but we aren’t buying that anymore. That is what we’re hoping to get people to realize, that being fat is not a crime. It’s what we are, and we are proud of it.”
Nora Ezell, an Alabama quilter, died of a stroke at the age of 88 at her home in Eutaw, Alabama earlier this September. Ms. Ezell was well known for her quilts which included the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute commission piece “A Tribute to the Civil Righters of Alabama” that depicted such key moments from the civil rights movement as police officers attacking civil rights marchers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writing from jail and Rosa parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Ms. Ezell was a recipient of the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment of Arts in 1992 and the Folk Heritage Award from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 1990.
The Dish on Discrimination SPRING/SUMMER 2007
GUERRILLA GIRLS GO WILD: EN LA CIUDAD DE MEXICO; EN BILBAO,
ESPANA; AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK; IN THE PAGES OF THE WASHINGTON
POST; IN GREECE;
CYPRUS; AND IN ROTTERDAM.
¡HAY QUE QUITAR LAS CADENAS A LAS MUJERES DIRECTORAS!
EN LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO
In December of 2006 we unveiled the Spanish version of our “Unchain the Women Directors” billboard as a giant banner on the façade of the historic Hotel Virreyes in the Centro Historico. The hotel is now an artists’ center and residence. Thanks to all the wonderful people at Centro de Artes, Humanidades y Ciencias en Transdisiplina S.C. for making this happen! ¡Muchísimas gracias a todos!
¡HAY QUE QUITAR LAS CADENAS A LAS MUJERES DIRECTORAS! EN BILBAO, ESPAÑA
Our “Unchain the Women Directors” Spanish version billboard also made a splash in Bilbao, Spain, as part of the “Todos los Publicos” exhibition at the Sala Rekalde¡ Bezos a todos en Bilbao!
NO BEZOS, BUT WE DO THANK MoMA IN NEW YORK FOR MAKING US SO ANGRY 23 YEARS AGO THAT WE STARTED THE GUERRILLA GIRLS! Now down to business…
We’re not out of the woods yet! MOMA is still way behind on the number of women artists and artists of color in its exhibitions and collection. As part of the museum’s “Feminist Future Symposium” in January we took a very present day look at MOMA’s not so impressive track record.
HORROR ON THE NATIONAL MALL! Thousands of women locked in the basement of D.C. museums!
The Washington Post asked us to create a full page in the newspaper as part of a special section on feminism and art published April 22, 2007. We decided to take the museums in D.C. to task. You won’t believe the dirt we dug up! Now we have them all scrambling to bring out the art by women and artists of color in their collections.
DEAR ART COLLECTOR…. WE KNOW YOU FEEL TERRIBLE THAT YOUR COLLECTION DOESN NOT INLCUDE ENOUGH ART BY WOMEN, RIGHT?
We’ve left a little note for collectors who attended the Art Athina International Art Fair, May 30 – June 3, 2007 in Athens, Greece. A few days earlier, an exhibtion of GG work went up at the Hellenic American Union, curated by the amazing Artemis Potamianou. And...we almost got arrested for wearing a gorilla mask at the Parthenon.
LEFKOSIA AND PAFOS, CYPRUS
At the end of May the Guerrilla Girls gave two talks in Aphrodite’s old stomping ground, Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean. Thanks to everyone from Intercollege and Tekniart for inviting us!!
BACK TO BILBAO
Xavier Arakastain's mega exhibition of feminist art, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang: 45 Years of Art and Feminism, is at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao until September 9. A bunch of our recent work is on exhibition.
WITTE DE WITH, ROTTERDAM
We're putting up a 14 meter high banner on the facade of this Dutch museum from September 9 - December 15, 2007. It's part of their exhibition, Bodypoilitk. Pics coming soon.
BOY CRAZY BAY AREA INT'L FILM FEST 2007
The Bay Area is home to the longest running film festival
in the Americas – The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF).
After a 50 year run, we thought they would be a little less boy crazy..…
This year out of 15 awards, only 2 are being awarded to women. All 15 of the
awards are being presented by men. Even an ‘extraordinary showcase of
cinematic discovery and innovation’ in a cool city like San Francisco
is not safe from boy fever.
Help the 50 year oldster get better by dropping an email to Graham Leggat, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society at firstname.lastname@example.org, demanding that they recognize the accomplishment of more women filmmakers!
SHE COMPLAINED, CANON CAVED!
Recently we received a letter from L.G., a woman photographer
who had called Canon on their sexist "Masters of Light" ad campaign
depicting a dozen or so "masters," all white guys of course. She
complained, Canon responded with the usual brush off. Here's a quick excerpt
from their masterful letter -
We really understand and appreciate your concerns, but we would also like you to understand that the PrintMaster program in question, a subset to our existing Explorers of Light program is a relatively new program that we started about a year ago. And we intend to invite photographers of diverse races as well as female photographers as long as they meet the criteria of the program.
BUT, this just in from L.G. -
Hey-- have you seen the new Canon ad? Three token women photographers, front row in all their glory. Push taken to shove and the picture changed. Whoppeee.
Thanks for going ape L.G.!!
WHO HAS TO Q2P IN MUMBAI? THE WOMEN
Speaking of film festivals, Q2P, a film by Paromita
Vohra, recently screened at the Indian Film Festival Los Angeles. The documentary
delves into the subject of public toilets in Mumbai, a city working to reflect
an image of being a global metropolis. The film exposes the drastic shortage
of public restrooms for women and the poor conditions of the restrooms that
do exist. Often times women must pay to use a public bathroom, while men pee
for free. The rationale? Women on average take more time in the bathroom.
In reality, many of the women who queue to pee, are also in tow with their
A restroom manager explained that men would be broke if they had to pay every time. Women, he reminded, need only to explain to the attendee that they were there only to pee, not poop, and they would be let in for free.
I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE MONEY, I WOULD FAST TO GET THE STORY
24-year-old Awatif Ahmed Isshag has been taking it upon herself to reverse the tide of underreporting from Darfur. 10 years earlier Isshag had begun posting a handwritten newsletter by pasting pages to a large piece of wood and hanging it from a tree outside her family’s home. Today, in her hometown of El Fasher, the capital of the Northern Darfur state, more than 100 people a day walk to the front of her house to read Al Raheel, Isshag’s grassroots publication that reports on issues of the plight of refugees, water shortages, government inaction, and sexual violence against women. Now, with local support, Isshag will be able to publish a print edition of Al Raheel, but she is adamant about keeping the paper free. “I don’t care about the money, I would fast to get the story.”
WOMEN ARTISTS MAKE UP LESS THAN 12% OF THE TATE'S COLLECTION
If you are in or around London, make sure to stop by the Tate Modern where the Guerrilla Girls have a room full of posters. We were jazzed to hear that the Tate has lately admitted to having too few works in their collection by women artists and have publicly committed to buying more works! Interesting that they announced their new policy after the Guerrilla Girls appeared there.
IT'S EVEN WORSE IN HOLLYWOOD
You’ve seen our stats.
Hollywood is soooo subversive compared to film industries overseas!!
Out of the 61 films submitted for the foreign-language category of the Academy Awards this year, 12 were directed by women. In France there are always at least 20 established women directing films every year. European women filmmakers attribute higher opportunities to lower budgets for average commercial movies and better child-care systems for aspiring female directors who have children.
CRITICAL MASS AT THE MOVIE THEATERS, NO MASS IN THE INDUSTRY. ¡YA
BASTA! ¡NO MÁS!
A 2005 study conducted by the Motion Picture Association
reported that Latino Americans watched more movies in a year than any other
ethnic group in the country. In 2005 Latinos watched an average of 9.8 movies,
compared with 7.8 for African Americans and 7 for whites. The industry however
does not reflect the audience that is showing up to see its films:
-No Latinos serve as managing partners or board members in any of the industry’s top five talent agencies.
-Out of the top 100 grossing movies in 2005, only 2 were directed by an American-born Latino- both of them were directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Disney is making movies to target their Latino audiences with shows like Ugly Betty, with movie projects in the works with Salma Hayek and Eva Longoria, and a live-action movie about a Beverly Hills Chihuahua that heads to Mexico. But the road is much longer than that trek down the 405. We still need more Latinos in the board room, as screenwriters, directors, and producers, and more executives to trust them and green light film pitches that reflect Latinos as part of the snapshot of American society.
WE'D LIKE OUR COPORATIONS WHOLE PLEASE. NOT JUST 2%
More women are stepping up to the helms of corporations.
Just in 2006 alone Irene B. Rosenfeld became CEO of Kraft Foods, Indra Nooyi
took the top seat at Pepsi Co., and Patricia A. Woertz moved from Chevron
to be chief executive of Archer Daniels Midland. Despite their high visibility,
they are among only 9 women out of all chief executive jobs at Fortune 500
companies. That’s less than 2%.
A recent study released by Catalyst, an organization that studies women in the workplace, showed that while top business schools are graduating an increasing number of female M.B.A.’s, only about 16% of corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies are women. What’s going on?
- Not enough women in the boardroom. Boards play crucial roles when it comes to the hiring of employees.
- Women are two and a half more times likely to be relegated to staff jobs like H.R. and communications than into operating roles where they would be responsible for generating revenue and managing profit and loss.
Other stats of percentage of women at the top of Fortune 500 companies – provided by Catalyst (2005):
Chairwoman only 0%
Vice chair 6.4%
Sr. Executive Vice President 12.3%
Executive Vice President 13.7%
WOMEN ARE SHOPPING BUT THEY AIN'T DROPPING!
Women are financially stronger and independent more than ever before. Studies show that women will earn more money than men by 2028 if current trends continue (Boston Consulting Group). Women make the majority of travel decisions, out purchase men in consumer electronics, and they are responsible for the majority of purchasing for the home (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears). While retailers are paying close attention to what women want, the industry has also seen a rise in women run, women focused retailers that counter stereotypes in the marketplace- BeJane.com is a website for women who like to do home improvement projects and AskPatty.com, a web blog and q&a site of all things automotive for women, by women.
JUNE BUNDY CSIDA
June Bundy Csida, former Hollywood publicist, feminist, rape awareness activist and author, died at the age of 83 at her Los Angeles home on September 29. Alongside a very active career as a Hollywood publicist in the 70’s and 80’s, June Csida used her expertise and connections to bolster the second wave feminist movement in Los Angeles. Along with her late husband Joseph Csida, she joined NOW, the National Organization for Women in 1970 and became the publicist for the group. In the mid-70’s she and her husband co-wrote the ground breaking book Rape: How to Avoid It and What to Do If You Can’t. The landmark book exposed rape as “the No.1 crime against women” that went severely under-reported (only 1 in 10 in the mid-70’s) and also broke through the common misconception that women were ‘just asking for it’ by wearing short skirts.
BEBE MOORE CAMPBELL
On November 27 novelist Bebe Moore Campbell died at the of 56 from complications of brain cancer at her home in Los Angeles. Campbell was part of the first wave of black novelists who’s fiction revolved around the lives of upwardly mobile black professionals; breaking away from the stereotypes of black people as socially and economically marginal. Her prolific career included the novels, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” (1992), “Brothers and Sisters,” (1994) written right after the L.A. Riots, “What You Owe Me,” (2001), and most recently “72 Hour Hold” (2005). In 1992 book critic Clyde Edgerton wrote about Campbell saying: “By showing lives lived, and not explaining ideas, Ms. Campbell does what good storytellers do- she puts in by leaving out.”
EFFIE MAE HOWARD a.k.a. ROSIE LEE TOMPKINS
Rose Lee Tompkins, quilter extraordinaire, died at the age of 70 at her home in Richmond, California, in December. Tompkins’ quilts began to appear in art museums and institutions in the 1980’s and throughout her career until her recent death were marveled for and often compared to modernist paintings, African textiles and to jazz music for their improvisational qualities. Another extraordinary aspect of her career was that for the most part Rosie Lee Tompkins remained out of the limelight – Rosie Lee Tompkins was a pseudonym, she never allowed to be photographed, interview or quoted. Consequently only 4 people in the art world knew what she looked like. Effie Mae Howard, the woman behind Rosie Lee Tompkins, was an African-American woman, deeply religious, and had no use or desire for public acclaim. She created her quilts for a sense of peace, for family and loved ones, and for Jesus Christ.
Tillie Olsen, writer, labor activist, and feminist, died at the age of 94 on January 3 in Oakland, California. Her short story “I Stand Here Ironing” from her first published book “Tell Me A Riddle” from 1961 recounts a difficult relationship with her daughter and the struggles and frustrations of motherhood and poverty. Olsen was the first recipient of the Ford Foundation grant in 1959, the year it was first offered.
MARY CARTER SMITH
Mary Carter Smith, storyteller, teacher, and writer, died at the age of 88 on April 24 in Baltimore. Smith started telling stories to families and neighbors as a child and eventually popularized the term “griot,” a West African storyteller who recounts the oral history of a village or family. Smith taught for 31 years in the Baltimore school system. In order to counter the lack of classes on African culture, she represented by wearing African dresses, headpieces, necklaces and bracelets. After leaving the school system, Smith became a professional storyteller, performing at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center, and also on local radio and public television programs. Colleagues and friends called her the ‘grande dame of storytelling.’
The Dish on Discrimination FALL 2006
UTRECHT, LONDON, ISTANBUL
We spent a couple of weeks recently postering Utrecht, Holland, appearing at the Tate Modern in London, and talking to women artists and curators in Istanbul in preparation for a project we're doing at the Istanbul Modern Museum in October. We thank everyone we met there, including the hundreds of people who came to our workshops and gigs. Our trip made us more determined than ever to do more posters and actions on global issues.
In many Muslim countries, it is believed to be the duty of male relatives to murder a woman who "dishonors" her family by having a liaison with -- sometimes even simply kissing -- a man. In Turkey, the government is trying to stop these "honor killings" (and show the world they care about human rights) by arresting the perpetrators, but never fear, the guy shave figured out a new way to ensure that they escape imprisonment and still make sure their female relatives were killed. They pressure the women into committing suicide, thus cleansing the family's honor, and ensuring that they themselves go free.
FEMALE SCIENTIST BECOMES MALE: SURPRISE! HE GETS MORE RESPECT
The Wall Street Journal recently interviewed Prof. Ben Barres, a transgendered professor of nuerobiology at Stanford University. Barres completed female to male treatment and surgery over10 years ago. Based on his career in science first as a woman, and then a man, he has a unique perspective on the debate over why women are so rarely at the highest levels of academic science and math. He claims that the reason is not innate ability but discrimination -- he's treated better now as Ben Barres than he used to be as Barbara.
MADRID TO SKINNY MODELS: GO HOME AND EAT SOMETHING
Madrid, Spain has banned too-thin models from participating in its premiere city-sponsored fashion show, the Pasarela Cibeles. “Fashion is a mirror and many teenagers imitate what they see on the catwalk,” said regional official Concha Guerra. She added that the fashion industry has a responsibility to portray healthy body images. So far, 30% of the models from last year's show have been prohibited from taking part this year, and medics will be on hand to check the reamining models. Other cities in Spain are planning to do the same at their shows.
Octavia Butler, author of 12 science fiction novels, died August 5th at the age of 58 after suffering a stroke. Although science fiction is a genre with few African American writers, Butler had a successful and inspiring career. In 1979 she finished Kindred, one of her best selling novels. By 1995 she had won the nation's two top prizes for science fiction writers. Her 12th and final novel, Fledging, was released last November. She used the genre of science fiction as a powerful way to speak about race and gender.
JEAN BAKER MILLER
Jean Baker Miller challenged psychological views of women in her1976 book "Toward a New Psychology of Women." She believed that much of what had been written about women was wrong. For example, she showed that the Freudian model, which portrayed women as nurturers who are dependent on others and therefore inferior, was incorrect, arguing that those traits were necessary for healthy psychological development regardless of gender. When she graduated Sarah Lawrence College in 1948 she decided to pursue medicine and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University where she was one of 10 women in a class of 100. After earning her degree in 1952 she stayed in New York and eventually went into a private practice. In 1995, Wellesley established the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, which trains thereapists in her relational theories. Miller had remained the director until late last year. Miller passed away at the age of 78. Her work significantly altered the field of psychology.
Jane Jacobs, writer and activist, whose ideas transformed urban planning, died at the age of 89 on April 25th. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), Jacobs condemned the practice of replacing urban slums with isolated high-rise housing projects, arguing for "animated city streets," full of people and commerce. She was a self-taught architectural and urban-planning specialist, as well as a community organizer. She based her radical ideas on observations she made watching people interact on the New York City street where she lived. She strongly believed that urban renewal was worsening the problems it was trying to solve, such as poverty, and crime.
The Dish on Discrimination WINTER/SPRING 2006
UNCHAIN THE WOMEN DIRECTORS
The Guerrilla Girls, Movies By Women, and lots of film directors have joined forces to erect a new billboard in Hollywood, just blocks from where the Academy Awards will be held on March 5. Check it out.
A WOMEN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOUSE, THE WHITE HOUSE
With the recent election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia,
Michelle Bachelet in Chile, and Angela Merkel in Germany, we got to thinking
about how many women have been elected leaders of other countries: Helen Clark,
New Zealand, Mary McAleese, Ireland, Golda Meir in Israel, Indira Ghandi in
India, Maggie Thatcher in the UK, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, and Sheikh Hasina
Wajed in Bangladesh. So why is the only national female leader in the US a
character on TV?
While we’re at it, why does the American Right have a better record than the liberal Left for appointing women to important positions: Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Linda Chavez, Imelda Radice, Lynn Cheney, Karen Hughes, Christy Todd Whitman, Condoleeza Rice, etc. etc. Is this to appease women and minorities, to the impression of equal opportunity among Republicans without having to deal with the political issues of women or people of color, and without risking an election on a female candidate?
Isn’t it time for the Democrats to find a woman who can win? Or is there something in our big-bucks driven electoral system that makes it impossible for a female or person of color to be nominated? Unless, of course, Oprah decided to enter the fray. Write and encourage her today!
WALK, DON'T RUN INTO PAKISTAN
Last May, upset that women were allowed to participate, Muslim hard-liners beat up runners during a competition in Pakistan. Instead of protecting women’s right to race, what did the government do? Passed a law banning them from the sport.
CHICK LIT IN IRAN
Women in Iran are constrained in ways that are hard for western
women to understand. But western women should envy Iranian women for their
recent literary success. There are over three hundred and seventy published
women authors in Iran, and, all together, they sell as many books as male
authors in the country.
Why are women authors so successful? Well, first, the prolonged war with Iraq forced many women in Iran to support themselves while husbands and fathers were fighting. Then, after that dose of independence came the need to write about it. Iranian women writers are open about describing their personal experiences at work, at home, even in the bedroom. Everyone, men included, like to read what women write! Many of these women have families opposed to their literary careers, but they keep writing anyway. That’s what we call feminism Iranian-style.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WAITRESS AND A PROSTITUTE?
Nothing, according to German law. Prostitution was legalized in 2003. Another law forces women under 55 who have been out of work for a year to take an available job or lose their unemployment benefits. That’s how a 25 year old waitress found herself being told by a job centre to report for a job in a Berlin brothel. She’s now suing, but many unemployed women in Germany have told a similar tale—of being sent by the government to work in brothels, phone sex factories, strip clubs, etc.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN CHESS
Chess doesn’t require brute strength or speed, two attributes that leave many female athletes at a disadvantage. It’s also one of the few games where women compete at the highest levels directly against men. Still, only 9 of 950 world Chess Grandmasters are women and there’s only one women among the top 100 chess players in the world. (Hungarian Judit Polgar is #8) Some claim this is because female chess players are more interested in style and technique than in winning. If sports like gymnastics, figure skating and even boxing are so complex they need to be judged, why doesn’t the great intellectual exercise of chess require an equally complex criteria to determine who is the better player? Why doesn’t chess step out of it’s military winner-take-all tradition and become the art form it deserves to be?
TURNER AND TOKEN, BOTH START WITH A "T"
We got a letter telling us about the sorry state of the Tuner Prize, the most prestigious and remunerative award in British contemporary art. In twenty years of prizes, only 2 women have won, both white (Rachel Whiteread in 1993 and Gillian Wearing in 1997), and only 2 men of color (Anish Kapoor in 1991and Chis Ofili in 1998. Tsk, tsk, Turner.
TV TURNS DOWN GAY CHARACTERS
Of the 710 regular characters on network tv shows scheduled for the 2005-6 season, only 2% are lesbian, gay or bisexual. We all know there are more than than percentage in the population at large!
ROSA PARKS, SO MANY FIRSTS
Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist who set off the bus boycott that led to the Supreme Court decision striking down Jim Crow laws in the segregated South, became, at her death in October at the age of 92, another first: the first female to lie in state at the Rotunda of the Capital Building in Washington. Laura Bush, no outspoken fan of any present-day movements committed to overturning the status-quo, picked up some free publicity by laying a wreath at Parks’ coffin. Rosa Parks was often misrepresented as a simple seamstress who one day just had enough and refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white person. In fact, it was not an accident or a happenstance. Rosa Parks was a brave, lifelong social activist who volunteered and trained for the moment when she would publicly defy unjust laws. To see her as anything less is an attempt to discredit her and the momentous civil rights movement she had the courage to help kick-start.
RUTH CLEMENT BOND, SEW MODERN
Ruth Clement Bond died in Manhattan in November at the age of 101. Her accomplishments are known throughout the world of quilting. In the 1930s she encouraged African American wives of former share-croppers to create hand-made quilts using modernist motifs and techniques. One of them depicted a black fist catching a thunder bolt, the first visual image of “Black Power.” Bond graduated from Northwestern University, then followed her husband to USC and then Tennessee where he was the highest-ranking black administrator in the TVA. Unable to enroll in any university there, she put her energies towards the quilting project and then headed the English department at Kentucky State College. When her husband joined the Foreign Service she taught at universities in Liberia, Malawi and Haiti and worked with women and youth groups in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Sierra Leone. In her seventies she was part of a commission that studied the role of women in West Africa. Guerrilla Girls believe that the role of African American quilt-makers has been overlooked in the history of modernism. We hope that soon some art historian will re-discover the quilts Ruth Clement Bond inspired and set the record straight.
BETTY BERZON, LESBIAN ACTIVIST, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, AND AUTHOR
In 1971 Berzon helped found the first U.S. center for gays and lesbians, which still exists in Los Angeles. She was an early activist in the battle to get the American Phychological Association to stop classifying homosexuality as a mental illness. She was the author of Positively Gay (1979) and Permanent Partners (1988, ) among other books. She died Jan 24, 2006.
SONORA BABB, AUTHOR OF A BOOK SAID TO BE BETTER THAN STEINBECK'S
Sonora Babb’s novel, Whose Names Are Unknown, was acquired by Random House, then shelved when Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939. Random House didn’t want another book about farm families in the Depression competing with Steinbeck’s. Whose Names was not published until the University of Oklahoma Press finally issued it in 2004. Reviewers called it a “masterpiece” and “a classic, both literary and historical.” Babb was born in an Otoe Indian community in Oklahoma in 1907. She wrote Whose Names after a decade spent poor and homeless. She became a journalist, script writer and literary magazine editor in Hollywood. She authored other novels and books of poetry, and at one time ran a Chinese restaurant with her husband, award-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe. She died in January at the age of 98.
AND FINALLY...APOLOGIES TO THE FEMALE GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST
In our book Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers, the Guerrilla Girls Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes, we bought into the conventional assumption that women were the only female mammals to experience menopause. We used it as an call for feisty, rebellious, productive older women, no longer concerned with child-rearing, to use their newfound extra time to make trouble. Now primatologists have discovered that female Gorillas also live long beyond their child-bearing years! We ask, what are all these furry, simian crones to do? Since gorillas live in harems attached to a dominant alpha male, maybe it’s time for them to take things into their own hands, and start a feminist rebellion inside the animal world. Wouldn’t that be evolution at it’s best?
The Dish on Discrimination SPRING/SUMMER 2005
GUERRILLA GIRLS GO BACK TO THE ARTWORLD!
Rosa Martinez and Maria de Corral of Spain have been appointed Directors of the Venice Biennale, the first female directors ever. And guess what: They are curating two group shows with the highest number of women artists ever —38%. And the Guerrilla Girls will be there! We’ve whipped up something very special about the male culture of the Biennale, Venice itself, and the European artworld.
Take a look!
WOMEN ARTISTS IN EUROPE ARE SICK AND TIRED AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE
In Spain, women art professionals are circulating a petition to demand that the national museums of Spain, funded entirely by the Spanish government, start telling the whole story about art in their country. They call for a reasonable quota of work by women artists to be shown and collected by all museums receiving public money. Check out the website at www.manifiestoarco2005.com. The Pompidou Center in Paris recently opened a show based on the theme of Dionysius, the god of wine, debauchery and misbehavior. Surprise! It was 93% male. Champagne was drunk out of crystal flutes in the shape of penises, cans of art lovers shit were ignited, filling the galleries with pungent aromas, and big scary puppets wandered about, frightening children. A bunch of women calling themselves “Les Artpies” a play on “harpies,” gathered outside to rename the female curator and the show “Snow White and Her Fourteen Macho Men.”
MEANWHILE…BACK AT THE RANCH…
The economic policies of the Bush Administration have come home to roost in the art auction market. A new generation of Bush Billionaires are the latest poker players in the world of contemporary art. They’re throwing millions of dollars at the work of a handful of living artists to see which ones will appreciate the most over time. Problem is, the super rich throw their money at artists who look like themselves: other white males. A recent feature article in The New York Times tracked two British artists of the same generation, with similar exhibition records, and similar critical success. An art work by the guy brought not two or three but ten times the price at auction of a comparable work by the woman.
WHEN IN ROME…
We watched the hooplah surrounding the death and re-election of the Pope. The photos of the Papal Conclave said it all. What other institution has a small number of celibate men making the rules for so many who are neither celibate nor male? The Vatican is one of the most backward, chauvinistic, institutions in the world. Maybe the media should treat the cardinals the same as they do the mullahs.
IN A FAMILY WAY:
We applaud the brave women everywhere who resist marriage and family practices that deny them their human rights:
In Malawi, Africa, the custom of “sexual cleansing” forces a widow to have sex after her husband’s death. Entire villages support the practice, sometimes carried out by relatives of the dead man or by a “headman” doing it as a community service. One courageous nurse and HIV educator, Monica Nsofu, is working to convince the women that the practice is a threat to their health and the health of their children.
In Uganda, young women have been kidnapped, raped and inducted into the Lord’s Resistance Army. They are forced to become the wives and bear children to the rebel forces. They are then coerced to commit crimes, even murder, leaving them little choice but to become insurgents themselves. A few have escaped, told their stories and now participate in programs to help reintroduce them to the world they had to leave behind.
In Kyrgyzstan men abduct women, often violently, and do not release them until they consent to marriage. The grooms’ families participate and the snatched brides’ families end up urging their daughters to accept this fate. The practice is outlawed but growing: one third of marriages in the region are by abduction. Some young women, especially students, resist by wearing wedding rings or headscarves to appear married. Others disavow their virginity, a claim that saves them from abduction but condemns them to public shame. A documentary film and some activist professors have stirred a national debate on the practice.
In Pakistan Mukhtar Mai was gang raped in retaliation for an offence committed by her brother. A courageous women, Mai decided to fight back rather than remain silent or kill herself as custom dictated. And she won. Her attackers were convicted and sentenced to death but a religious court nullified the decision and set them free on appeal. In the meantime Mai used her victim compensation to build the first school for girls in her village. While she still awaits justice, she continues to turn her tragedy into a better life for others.
GREAT WOMEN WE WILL MISS
Shirley Chisholm, that wiry, fierce woman from Bed-Stuy who was the first African American elected to congress and the
first black woman to run for president over 30 years ago died in January at the age of 80. She served seven terms in Congress.
Shirley was a trailblazer who spoke her mind, fought the political establishment, and impressed everyone with her independence and her outspoken ways. She garnered the criticism of other black politicians when she visited her opponent, George Wallace, in the hospital after he was shot and when she endorsed Ed Koch for Mayor of New York. She observed that black politicians in New York could be “like crabs in a barrel, crawling all over each other so nobody gets to the top.”
Her memory faded after she left politics and retired to teach and live on the lecture circuit. But a film about her life “Chisholm 72: Unbought and Unbossed” was released last year and shown at Sundance and on PBS. In her honor The Shirley Chisholm Center for the Study of Women will open at her alma mater Brooklyn College. We will miss that grin …and those big rimmed glasses!
A MILITARY HERO ALMOST FORGOTTEN IN WARTIME
Mary Halloran, who died in February at 97, was a woman who didn’t accept limitations. She followed her brothers into WW2 in 1942 and joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She helped overcome congressional resistant to help pass the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, a step that brought women into the regular army. Named WAC’s first director of over 18,000 troops, she was given the rank of colonel. This was a first for a woman but hardly compensation for her responsibilities. After her retirement she helped organize Women in Community Service, a women’s and civil rights organization that fought in another war in the 60s, the War against Poverty. It took almost a month for the New York Times to announce her death.
The Dish on Discrimination FALL/WINTER 2004
Our new 16-page book, just like the cutesy ones museums produce to teach kids about high culture. Well, maybe not eactly like them.
TAKE A POP QUIZ! CONNECT THE DOTS! WRITE YOUR OWN MUSEUM WALL LABEL! JOIN US FOR THE PREMIERE OF The Guerrilla Girls' Art Museum Activity Book AND THE EXHIBITION "GUERRILLA GIRLS: THE ART WORLD AND BEYOND"
The Guerrilla Girls Art Museum Activity Book is an artrageous
look at the world of New York City museums. On Thursday, November 11, 2004
from 5 -7 PM, Printed Matter, Inc. hosted a launch party for the book and
an opening reception for Guerrilla Girls: The Art World And Beyond, an exhibition
of recent Guerrilla Girls work that will be on view through December 23, 2004.
Printed Matter is located at 535 West 22nd St between 10th and 11th Avenues.
The Guerrilla Girls Art Museum Activity Book is a comic-book style call to action, and a parody of those cutesy books museums produce to teach children to respect High Culture. After sleuthing around in the galleries, board-rooms and financial portfolios of the Met, the Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art, we came up with seven fun and funny activities designed to encourage readers to fight discrimination, unethical behavior and conflicts of interest in museums everywhere. Included are quizzes, a connect-the-dots museum floor plan, and a do-it-yourself museum store complete with arty sex toys and t-shirts with slogans the museums don’t want you to see.
Why do museums raise hundreds of millions for new buildings, and then complain that they don’t have enough money to buy art? Why do they blow a fortune on a single painting by a white male genius when they could acquire hundreds of great works by women and people of color instead? Do women still have to be naked to get into the Net Museum?
It was painful to realize how deeply reactionary many Americans are and to see
them flock to the Republican party, with its promise of more cowboy foreign policy and more conservative
social programs and supreme court justices. The week after the vote we toured some red states and the
reality hit us in the face. In a Q and A in Florida, an elected official showed up and asked why we
don’t take the archetype of the Virgin Mary more seriously. People of conscience in those places
walk through similar ideological minefields everyday. They deserve our support.
It was equally shocking to learn how many Americans voted to support the war because they believed the Bush campaign spin/misinformation that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were connected. They also believed that weapons of mass destruction were really found in Iraq!
Advice for the 57,300,000 plus of us who voted for Kerry:
1. Take the media to task. They are terrified of criticizing the president, because they are afraid of being denied “access.” Demand that misinformation be retracted. Insist that important stories, like the recent report from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health estimating upwards of 100,000 Iraqis killed since the US invasion, be put on the front page of The New York Times and Washington Post, not buried in the back pages or among the editorials. It’s shameful when you have to go to the foreign media to find out what’s happening in your own government! We’re planning a campaign to embarrass and condemn the US media. Please send us your ideas.
2. Figure out some new ways to talk to moderate Republicans who can’t yet see what a menace George Bush’s crew of right-wing fundamentalists is to our country and the world at large. Be patient. It will take time.
3. Insist that morality is not about who you have sex with—it’s about who you kill.
WALL STREET: IT'S STILL A WALL
Over the summer Morgan Stanley settled a sex discrimination suit just moments before trial.
The woman who sued got $12 million and $40 million was divided among other female employees. And, we’ll
never know how bad things were at Morgan Stanley. The winning women had to pay a price for their victory: silence.
The terms of the agreement sealed years of information documenting the treatment of women at the firm.
So, what’s the status of women in the finance industry? Well, over at Smith Barney, women make up 36 percent of the investment banking division but earn only 11 percent of the payroll. Women who work as “control administrators” earn on average $50,405 while a guy in the same job gets $65,614. Twenty-five percent of male sales assistants get promoted to broker while only 3% of the females make the grade.
Will Morgan Stanley go back to keeping women back? Will Smith Barney and other companies get any better? Women in finance: keep records. We’re watching and ready to help.
RICH WOMEN: KINDER AND GENTLER
According to a new book that studied the habits of millionaires, the female variety are more generous, giving three times as much of their income to family members than their millionaire male counterparts. Rich women also cough up 1.5% more of their income to charities than the rich guys do.
A WOMAN ON TOP......
of the Met Museum. This fall the Metropolitan Museum of New York finally promoted a women to its second highest position: President. Emily Rafferty, formerly Vice President for External Affairs, and rumored to be one of the best fundraisers in the art world, will preside over 2,000 employees at the country’s largest museum. We’ll be watching the Met’s tax returns on Guidestar.com to see if her new salary (she made $202,000 as VP in 2002) is on a par with the outgoing President, David McKinney ($439, 00 in 2002).
BOYS WILL CHOOSE BOYS
An exhaustive study of New Yorker Fiction conducted last year by a Princeton undergrad proved the obvious: that male editors just might be inclined to favor the work of ……other males. Several more conclusions: 1) some editors are worse than others and 2) things aren’t always getting better for women writers at the nation’s literary magazine of record. The percentage of stories by men published in the New Yorker rose to 70% between 1995 and 2001 under new editor Bill Buford. The previous stat from 1992-95 under former editor Charles McGrath was a more balanced 59%.
CALL IT COURAGE
A recent incident in Pakistan laid bare the human rights situation of women in many parts of the developing
world, and also the strength and courage of individual women in those countries. Mukhtaran Bibi had the misfortune of being
related to a man who got caught in a conflict with another family over accusations of sexual abuse and adultery. A village
tribunal meted out its justice: to compensate the offense, Mukhtaran should be gang-raped by the men from the opposing family.
By custom it was expected that she would kill herself to prevent such a dishonor to her family.
Instead, Mukhtaran had the courage to testify in a government court against her local rapists, sending them to prison. This reversed a tradition that a victim of rape is more disgraced than the rapists. She has to have constant police protection now, but she is determined to use money she was given in compensation for her suffering to start a school for children to help effect social change in her village.
THINK GLOBALLY, INVEST CONSERVATIVELY
Most international agencies agree that women are the most under-utilized asset in the Muslim world. Currently, we’re throwing billions at global giants like Halliburton to rebuild the rubble we created in Iraq. Why not entrust our tax dollars to the segment of the Muslim world with the best fiscal reputation? Micro-loans to Muslim women to start businesses in their own countries have an astonishing 98% rate of repayment worldwide. Let Iraqi women rebuild Iraq. George, you’re a business man, act like one!
CHILDREN OF WAR
With war all around them, scores of Iraqi children no longer
leave their homes, play in the streets, or visit with their friends. It’s
just too dangerous. Groups of men appear at schools, urging the girls to cover
up and change the way they dress. Children who have lost a parent in the conflict
abandon their education to help support their families. Many are girls chosen
to make the sacrifice over their brothers.
What happens to a generation of children who grow up amid the chaos of war? What if, at the end of the day, their opportunities are less than before the war? What kind of price can be placed on that loss? Of what value is “freedom” to children, especially girls, if they are uneducated and intimidated by fundamentalists? While we can rebuild roads and armies and cities and infrastructure, what can we do to give back to these children the childhood taken from them?
IRAN FOLLOWS U.S. MODEL
The new hard line Iranian government just might be taking its cues from the fundamentalists in Washington.
How? Well, they rejected the same UN convention banning discrimination against women that the Bush administration refused to
sign a few years ago. Then, they imitated the Republican strategy of putting conservative members of oppressed groups in
positions of power to suppress dissent from those groups.
The last Iranian parliament included a group of courageous female members who fought for the right of women to get a divorce and retain custody of their children. This fall, a new Iranian parliament rolled back some of those rights. All 12 female members of the new parliament voted to reject inheritance rights for women. One called for a ban on unmarried men and women mingling in public. Another has proposed polygamy as a solution to female poverty. This group also pulls a curtain around themselves while eating in the parliament cafeteria, so as not to be seen by hungry men.
GIRL TALK: ENDANGERED SPEECHES
Yang Huanyi, a Chinese woman in her 90's, died September 20. She was the last living person to communicate in Nushu, a secret Chinese language written only by women. Nushu means “female writing” and has 1,800 characters representing spoken sounds, unlike other written Asian languages based on characters that represent ideas. It was used by women to talk about their feelings and fears. Women developed Nushu over the centuries as a response to being denied education in the more dominant written Chinese languages. The penalty for women who were caught creating a secret language was death, but somehow Nushu flew under the radar screen of a culture that thought “anything to do with women was inferior, insignificant.” More recently it has been called “the witches script” and “the first language of women’s liberation.” There are rumors that Nushu is being kept alive by a few self-taught younger women.
We were honored recently to receive a donation honoring the life of Anne-Elizabeth Houle, who committed suicide earlier this year. She was a really amazing human being and art was extremely important to her. She incorporated a lot of feminism into her art. We will try to do her memory proud by continuing our activist work. For any of you out there who have had thoughts of suicide, please, please hang in there. There is a national suicide hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). and many local ones. We know some wonderful women and men who work hotlines like these. Please call them.
The Dish on Discrimination SUMMER 2004
The Guerrilla Girls at the March for Women's Lives, DC. Photo by David Noble Dandridge.
BUSH'S WAR ON WOMEN
We had an amazing time at the March for Women’s Lives in
DC back in April, along with a million of you. Please keep up the pressure
on the Bush administration. George Bush’s war in Iraq is not going well, but
his war on women and children here at home goes on unimpeded. Here are some
facts we culled from Emily’s List:
Secretary of Education Roderick Paige referred to the National Education Association, representing teachers across the nation, as a “terrorist organization” when it raised concern about some parts of the No Child Left Behind Act. The NCLA shorted schools by $27 billion and called for the end of Head Start, family literacy programs, and initiatives to divide large high schools into smaller ones.
Leon Kass, M.D, Bush’s choice to head the President’s Council of Bioethics, has made this sage observation: “For the first time in human history mature women by the tens of thousands live the entire decade of their twenties—their most fertile years-neither in the homes of their fathers nor in the homes of their husbands: unprotected, lonely, and out of sync with their inborn nature.”
The Bush Justice Department tried—but luckily failed—to subpoena Planned Parenthood records of women who have had abortions. They’re still pursuing records from other abortion providers.
The Bush Administration 2005 budget proposes cutting all funding for school dropout prevention, calling it “unnecessary.” Guess they hope that the 50% of African Americans, 47% of Latinos and 49% of Native Americans who never graduated from high school will join the “volunteer” army, where they are much needed to fight an unpopular war.
IT'S STILL A MAN'S WORLD IN AFGHANISTAN
George Bush (who knew he was a foreign film aficionado?) recently paraded the Afghani film Osama around Washington to remind us that one reason why we invaded that country was to help women. The film tells the wrenching story of a young girl forced to dress as a boy during Taliban rule to support her family. But has the U.S. occupation made things better for Afghani women? Over the winter, Homa Safi, a 21-year-old female journalist with a bright future, killed herself rather than accept her father’s choice of a husband. Reports from the city of Herat claim 100 similar suicides in recent months. Warlords now control entire sections of the country and patrol streets, arresting women not in the company of a close male relative. They subject them to humiliating medical examinations to determine if they’ve had recent sexual intercourse. Rape and sexual assault are on the increase.
...BUT IT’S GETTING BETTER IN MOROCCO
Things are getting better for women in some parts of the world. In January, Morocco adopted a Family Law giving women new rights: they are no longer legally bound to obey their husbands, they no longer have to be under the guardianship of a male relative, they cannot be married before the age of 18, they have the right to divorce their husbands, they can refuse to remain in a polygamous marriage, and they have the right to custody of their children. For more information about women’s rights around the world, check out the Women’s Learning Partnership www.learningpartnership.org
OUR BODIES, OURSELVES 2004
This spring we were honored to do a benefit for The Boston Women’s Health Collective, authors of the pioneering 1969 book about women’s health and reproductive rights, Our Bodies, Ourselves. OBOS has gone global with special editions in Armenian, Bulgarian, French for West Africa, Romanian and Serbian and translations planned in Portuguese, Chinese, Polish, Korean, Thai and Turkish. Executive Director Judy Norsigian, is still at the helm, and her stories about getting sections of the book on lesbian sexuality past censors around the world are hilarious and inspiring. Check out the latest OBOS. We guarantee you will learn something about yourself you never knew!
SEEING RED ON FRIDAY
Here’s an idea we received from Nadia Jenson, inspired by millions of Norwegians who dressed themselves and their children in red knit hats during WW 2 to silently protest the Nazi Occupation of their country: “I believe, as many of us do, that at the very heart of our democracy is our right to oppose the policies of our government. Many of us oppose what our government is doing to individual rights and family planning programs. It’s time to take action in a way that is effective and easy: Wear red every Friday between now and Election Day. Be sure that wherever you go in your daily routine -- everyone who sees you will know that you are wearing red because you believe in freedom and you don't agree with our current administration's family planning policies at home and abroad. Ask everyone you know to wear red for “Freedom Fridays.”
REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY, ITALIAN STYLE
Italy was a leader in extreme reproductive technologies. There were claims of month old embryos grown in test tubes, and the artificial insemination of the oldest woman ever —63—known to have a child. Now, Italy has taken a giant step backward. In February, Parliament voted to ban just about every form of assisted reproduction, including artificial insemination employing donated sperm or donated eggs, embryo freezing, surrogate motherhood, and any assisted reproduction for single women or homosexual couples.
THE LAW, FLORIDA STYLE
When prosecutors showed Circuit Judge Gene Stephenson a photo of a middle-aged woman who had been beaten, kidnapped, raped and robbed he commented, “Why would he want to rape her? She doesn’t look like a day at the beach.”
BIRKENSTOCKS DECLARED UNBUSINESSLIKE
Hardly any colleges still have dress codes. But this spring, while preparing to don jungle drag and meet with the Yale Liberal Party at
the Yale Club in New York, we encountered the following instructions for all who enter the venerable institution where Yalies
rub elbows and network:
“Please help keep The Yale Club one of New York's most distinctive and distinguished spaces by dressing appropriately. The following guidelines should help you determine what is and is not business casual dress. If you have any doubt as to whether you are dressed appropriately, you probably are not. Business casual dress consists of professional and tasteful clothing you would wear in your workplace.
For men this includes: blazers or sport jackets (optional), collared shirts (dress shirts, button downs, golf shirts), turtlenecks or sweaters (including cardigans), tailored trousers (dress slacks, khakis, corduroys) and loafers or lace-up shoes with socks.
For women this includes: shirts (collared) or blouses with sleeves, turtlenecks, sweaters and sweater sets, skirts or tailored pants, and flats, pumps or boots.
Inappropriate attire includes but is not limited to: denim (jeans and jackets), shorts, tee shirts (sleeveless shirts, tank tops, halter tops, crop tops), sandals (beach sandals, Birkenstocks, flip flops), athletic wear of any kind (sweatshirts, rugby shirts, sweatpants, leggings, stirrup pants, jogging suits, spandex, lycra, athletic shoes or sneakers, caps), torn clothing (clothing with holes or frayed ends), clothing with offensive or profane language, and provocative or revealing clothing.”
LIBRARIANS ARE DOLLS
In our book Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers, we invented a collection of female stereotype dolls that were meant to be outrageous, and offensive. We did this to make fun of the ways stereotypes diminish women. In the spirit of our book and because librarians have also been the butt of some intense stereotyping, the American Library Association asked us to design a couple of librarian dolls and bring them to their conference in Orlando, where we will be speaking June 29. We’re proud to present 'Betty the Bookworm' and 'Merrion the Librarian,' above.
...AND SO ARE THE REST OF YOU!
Thanks to all of you at all the places the Guerrilla Girls
appeared in the first half of 2004: ARCO Conference, Madrid. Spain; College
Art Association conference, Seattle, WA; Radcliffe Union of Students/Harvard
University Cambridge, MA; Harvard University International Forum, Cambridge,
MA; Albion College, Albion, MI; Washington & Lee University Lexington, VA;
Iowa State University Ames, IA; Utah State Art Educators Conference St. George,
UT; Idaho State University Pocatello, ID; University of Louisville Louisville,
KY; University of Memphis Memphis, TN; Furman University, Greenville, SC;
Benefit for Our Bodies, Ourselves, Boston, MA; Boston University Boston, MA;
Cameron University Lawton, OK; New York University Tisch School of the Arts,
New York, NY; March For Women's Lives,
Washington, DC; Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Los Angeles, CA;
American Library Association Conference, Orlando, FL.
We have a new web page where we post some photos from our travels. Check it out: http://www.guerrillagirls.com/tours/travelpics.shtml. And send in your photos of the GGs!
GREAT WOMEN WE'VE LOST RECENTLY
Born in 1910 to a single mother who was the first registered woman pharmacist in Iowa, Mildred Jeffrey fought for civil rights and the rights of women and working people all her life. Her accomplishments and firsts are staggering: first director of the Women’s Bureau of the United Automobile Workers, organizer of the first women’s labor conference in response to wide-spread layoff of women workers after WW2, leader of the Democratic party committee that ensured that half the delegates to the 1980 convention were women, founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, unofficial head of the group who persuaded Walter Mondale to name Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. Other groups she played a major role were Coalition of Labor Women, Emily’s List, National Abortion Rights League and the ACLU. In 2000 President Clinton gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Pat Shroeder said, “Millie is the political godmother for many of us.”
Elma Lewis was a legend in the Boston arts community. After working her way through Emerson College by acting, Elma attended BU and then went on to found the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in Roxbury, teaching generations of young people dance, theatre and opera. She helped clean up a drug-infested park in Boston, and then built the Elma Lewis Playhouse on the site, attracting performers like Duke Ellington and Arthur Feidler. In 1968 she established the National Center of Afro-American Artists. When Elma won a MacArthur Genius Award in 1981 she remarked that she felt more excluded on account of her race than her sex. She said, “…in (the) white dominant group…men are keeping women from utmost dominance. The black man is oppressed, and I can’t imagine a man brave enough to oppress me.” She died at 82.
In 1949 Corinthian Nutter, a public school teacher, risked her career when she walked out of the all black Walker Elementary School in Merriam, Kansas, in solidarity with her students and their families who were boycotting the school and suing the school district in the desegregation lawsuit of Webb vs. School District no. 90. Walker Elementary School was in dire condition and when parents were denied sending their children to a neighboring school that had been newly rebuilt with state funding, they decided to sue. For an entire year while the parents and lawyers were fighting the case, Nutter continued to teach the students in church basements and living rooms. One of her former students said, “Had not someone like her said, ‘I’m with you. Let’s do this. I’ll hang in there with you and teach the kids to the best of my ability,’ this might not have happened then.” Nutter later became a key witness in the case, providing key testimony describing the conditions at Walker Elementary School. “I just told them the truth….if they were going to build a new school and the parents were paying taxes like everybody else, why couldn’t their children go? Schools shouldn’t be for a color. They should be for children.’ Nutter died at 97 at her home in Shawnee, Kansas.
JANET AKYUZ MATTEI
Born and educated in Turkey, astronomer Janet Akyuz Mattei came to the United States as a Wein Scholar at Brandeis University in the mid 60’s. Dr. Mattei was the director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers where she collected data from over 600 observing posts, amateur and professional, operated larges telescopes, earthbound and spacebound. With the data Dr. Mattei kept the scientific community up to date with the status and condition of variable stars, and made the association’s database available to educators. She was also instrumental in obtaining Hubble Space Telescope time for amateur astronomers. She died at the age of 61.
The Dish on Discrimination SPRING 2004
WE'VE GOT NEW POSTERS FOR YOU TO CARRY IN THE MARCH FOR WOMEN'S LIVES APRIL 26, 2004
Are you going to the March For Women's Lives in Washington DC on Sunday April 25, or participating in a support rally in your city? We've designed a special set of posters that you and three friends can carry together in the march! Please download our "I decide…You decide…We decide…They DON'T decide" posters. You can print them out 8.5x11, 11x17 or even much larger and mount them on cardboard or foam board. Hope to see you in DC!
Also coming soon are GG appearances in Boston, Lawton, OK, New York, Los Angeles, CA and Orlando, FL. Check our datebook for details.
And...work by the Guerrilla Girls is in DETOX, an exhibition in Kirkenes, Arctic Norway. Kirkenes is a former war zone (WWII and NATO Iron Curtain) and our anti-war posters are included in the show.
The Dish on Discrimination WINTER 2004
THE NEW YORK TIMES DOES THE GUERRILLA GIRLS
If you didn’t catch the article about us in the NYT Jan 4, 2004, click here.
THE GUERRILLA GIRLS DO ART CRITICISM
We'll be picking up the 2004 Frank Jewett Mather Award at the College Art Association conference in Seattle on Feb 18, 2004. The CAA tells us that we are being cited for our "unique and evolving adaptation of art criticism as a vital, socially relevant, and transformative art form."
CURATING IN THE 21ST CENTURY
One of our moles recently sent us an email that a curator of Artists Space gallery in NY wrote to two artists, turning down their exhibition proposal, “Queer Art Now.” Of course a curator has a right to turn down an exhibition but what caught our attention were his reasons. We just had to write and congratulate the curator for his cutting edge ideas:
To: Christian Rattemeyer
From: Guerrilla Girls
We were privileged recently to see a letter that you sent to Harmony Hammond and Ernesto Pujol declining an exhibition proposal they had submitted to Artists Space.
We are writing to say that we couldn't agree more with the views you expressed in your letter!!!!! You are right that in this post-ethnic era there should no longer be exhibitions of works by “Women artists,” “Black artists,” “African artists,” or, as in Ms Hammond and Mr. Pujol's proposal, “Queer Artists,” or any shows selected solely on the basis of gender, ethnicity, or nationality.
But we feel you didn't go far enough. Let's get real, here! In this post-studio era, how can you justify shows of “video artists,” “painters,” “sculptors” or “photographers?”
In fact, since, any curatorial intervention limits the reading of artists' work, by pushing it into some thesis or other, we propose there should be no more exhibitions at all!
Love and kisses,
The Guerrilla Girls
SURPRISE! IT’S A MAN’S WORLD ON TV
A study of 10 years of TV shows, by Martha Lauzen (the source of the stats in our film work) revealed the following:
62% of all characters have been men.
70% of all characters in their 40s and 80% in their 50s have been male.
93% of characters playing business owners have been male, as well as virtually all the politicians, military or religious leaders.
Of 674 lead or supporting characters on prime time broadcast tv this season, 11 are gay. Cable is a little better.
INCREASED OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN…IN PRISON
The number of women arrested, convicted and sent to jail is skyrocketing. Assault by females is up 24%, embezzlement 80% and drug abuse 50%.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE STEREOTYPED
Our last book was about stereotypes: positive as well as negative. That’s why we were interested to read about a recent study conducted by Columbia and NYU that used positive stereotypes to disarm negative ones in a group especially vulnerable to labels: teenagers. A group of girls, laboring under the stereotype that they don’t do well in math, and a group of African Americans confronted by the stereotype that blacks don’t score well in standardized tests, were prepped for a series of tests in this way: they were presented scientific material about how the brain processes information as well as positive stories of students who overcome the challenges of high school. A control group was given only information about the dangers of drug use. Guess which did better on the test? The former. Bring on those positive stereotypes!
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
Last November President Bush signed a law to ban late term abortions. Here’s the official photo that was taken of the event. What’s wrong with the picture? Not only are all the signers wearing the same cardboard suit, they’re all guys and lily white at that! Doesn’t it make your blood boil to see a bunch of individuals who will never have to make the difficult decision of whether or not to bring a child into the world are telling us what we can and cannot do? Reminds us of Flo Kennedy’s famous line “If men got pregnant, would abortion be a sacrament?” DOUG Mills, NY Times, Saturday, Nov 8, 2003.
A recently published book had some fascinating info about women in the Space Program. Politcians and military men kept women out of the early space program; they considered the Race to Space akin to a military conflict with no place for the weaker sex. But the scientific community recognized that women had The Right Stuff. Edward Teller, father of the H bomb, early on declared that “all astronauts should be women because they weigh less and have more sense.” Physiological studies suggest that “women in general tolerate pain, heat, cold, loneliness and monotony as well or better than men.” Still, it took NASA 20 years to train female astronauts and 30 years to allow a women to serve as a commander in a shuttle flight. That was Eileen Collins in 1999.
IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME
A recent demographic study showed that 70% of the US population does not condone same sex marriages or civil unions. But digging a little further, in age groups under 30, the statistic was reversed: 70% approved of gay marriage! On this issue, that old hippie adage “Don’t trust anyone over thirty,” might just apply.
The founding fathers of the US constitution guaranteed the rights of regional representation. Despite the fact that
some states were smaller than others, all are equally represented in the US Senate. Is it going too far to suggest that if different
regions of the US are guaranteed representation in congress, that women, who are 50% of the population, should also be guaranteed
A worldwide movement is developing to insist that governments have a critical mass of female representaton. Argentina has a 30% quota for women candidates for election; India requires 1/3 of seats in local municipal bodies be reserved for women; Uganda guarantees one seat in each parliamentary districts for a woman and Rwanda, emerging from a bloody civil war in which millions were killed, has also set aside 1/3 of the seats in the lower parliament for women to be elected in a women-only election. India is passing legislaton. Scandinavian countries have many women in government. Local governments in France are 50-50.
If U.S. women were guaranteed representation, like the residents of the states of Nevada, Delaware and New Hampshire, would we have the government now in power?
A GIRL AFTER OUR OWN HEART
We’ve never seen Shabana Rehman perform her stand-up act but it sounds like it's right up our….alley. Rehman is a Norwegian-Pakistani comedian whose work raises consciousness about the conflicts between Muslim and European cultures. Posing in a burka and also naked with the flag of Norway painted on her flesh, she has raised the ire of both the Muslim and the Left-liberal communities in Scandanavia and across Europe, and provoked a dialogue about difference. No one can agree on the “correctness” of her positions but everyone is talking about the issues she raises. That’s been our goal, too, for almost 20 years. We try not to state a single angry position but to present a conundrum that causes the viewer to stop, think and maybe change her or his mind.
GREAT WOMEN WE’VE LOST RECENTLY
ALTHEA GIBSON, winner of 11 grand slam tennis titles, died last fall at the age of 76. Gibson broke the racial barrier in tennis, becoming the first black player to compete at a national tennis championship. Raised on the mean streets of New York, Althea’s athleticism was discovered by two African American physicians who sponsored her training. She went on to Texas A & M, on a tennis and basketball scholarship, and in the 1950’s she became the first African American to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, a full decade before Arthur Ashe. She was also the first African American woman to rank no.1 in the world. Gibson retired from the tennis tour in 1958 at age 31. Her friend, David Dinkins, former mayor of New York, remembered her like this: “We say everybody stands on somebody else’s shoulders….a whole lot of people-tennis players and many who are not tennis players, stand on Althea’s shoulders.”
GERTRUDE EDERLE was the first woman to swim the English Channel. It took her 14 hours and 30 minutes on August 6, 1926, a time over two hours faster than the 5 men who’d swum it before. It wasn’t until 24 years later that another swimmer managed to break her record. Ederle died November 30, 2003 at the age of 98.
JANET MCCLOUD, an American Indian activist from Washington state, led a successful campaign to force that state to guarantee local tribes a 50% share of the state’s salmon and trout catch. She died at 69 in November, 2003.
MARIE FOSTER, known as “the mother of the voting rights movement” died in December, 2003. Marie tried to register to vote eight times before she was finally enfranchised and allowed to vote. After that she made a point of going door to door in Selma, Alabama to get African Americans to register to vote and she held classes to teach people how to pass the discriminatory voter registration tests. More recently, Foster was an activist for public housing for the poor and held reading classes for underprivileged children in her hometown.
MARGARET ‘Mardy’ MURIE, matriarch of the wilderness. She worked on the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, banning development on millions of acres of national forests, parks and other land. Murie testified for the Alaskan Lands Bill in 1977 stating, “Alaska must be allowed to be Alaska; that is her greatest economy. I hope the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by- or so poor she cannot afford to keep them.”
The Dish on Discrimination FALL 2003
ARE YOU A BITCH? DUMB BLONDE? BULL DYKE? FEMINAZI? YUMMY MUMMY?
We’re off on a ten-city tour starting September 16 to read from our new book, Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: the Guerrilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes. See our datebook for details. We hope to see you on the book tour...and we hope you enjoy the book. And don’t forget to write us with stories of how you’ve been stereotyped so we can post them on our femail page. For more about the book, click here.
HELP WANTED (OR IS IT JUST “HEEEEELP!!!!!!!”): WOMAN TO LIE
NAKED ON TABLE WHILE RICH PEOPLE EAT SUSHI OFF HER BODY
What’s the latest trend in fancy parties? Body Sushi. A woman lies on a table, flanked by candles and dipping sauces. Flowers cover her nipples and g-string. The sushi is arranged on leaves, artfully placed on her body, and the elegant party guests chow down. The woman must remain still, although she may speak when spoken to. “It’s a celebration of body and food and environment, Gary Arabia of Global Cuisine, a catering company in L.A. We say, WHAT’S NEXT???? eating sushi off dogs? men? alligators?
I.T. GIRLS AND OTHER SCIENCE GIRLS
In 1993 15% of computer professionals were women, Today it’s only 20%.
In 1993 MIT awarded 61 Ph.D’s in computer science and electrical engineering; 10 of those went to women.
In 2003, MIT awarded 63 Ph.D’s and 10 went to women.
Meanwhile, over at the venerable National Academy of Sciences, for the first time ever 25% of this year’s inductees were women, way higher than usual. Female scientists now head Princeton, Penn, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, among other institutions. There are more women on science faculties at lots of colleges and universities, too. “The iceberg is beginning to break up a bit, but there’s still a lot of ice there. It’s very important that people not get the idea, that OK, everything is fixed now, because it’s not,” said Dr. Susan Lindquist, director of the Whitehead Institute. We’ve seen that in field after field: the minute a few tokens gets their feet in the door, people think hundreds of years of discrimination is over.
TV STILL NEEDS DIRECTION
The Director’s Guild of America, whose president is
Martha Coolidge, did some research on the 2002-3 TV season. Here’ are
the sorry stats they found:
White males directed 80% of the episodes of the 40 top series.
Series that hired no directors of color included NYPD Blue, Judging Amy and Malcolm in the Middle.
Series that hired no female directors included Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and My Wife and Kids.
Series that hired no women directors OR directors of color included CSI Miami, Yes, Dear and 24.
The series with the best hiring records: Bernie Mac, Third Watch and Frasier.
WHEN SEX IS YOUR RELIGION
If you were a guy who liked to have sex with lots of different women but your religion (Christianity) told you not to, what would you do? Well if you were Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, you would invent your own religion and make polygamy one of its founding tenets. That was in the early 19th century. Around the beginning of the 20th century, the Mormon elders, under major pressure from the US government, abandoned the doctrine of plural marriage. So what’s a guy to do today? No problem. Join a fundamentalist Mormon sect and get permission from your leader to “marry” (or, more accurately, rape and enslave) women and girls as young as 14. That’s what’s going on in several communities in Utah, Arizona, and Canada, along with incest and beatings. One organization fighting against these guys who abuse women under the protection of their religion: Tapestry Against Polygamy, P.O. BOX 16236, Salt Lake City Utah 84116
LONG HOURS, LOW PAY, LOTS OF STRESS? SOUNDS LIKE A JOB FOR A WOMAN
The percentage of men in teaching has reached a 40-year low. According to a survey by the National Education Association, 80% of teachers are women. The NEA said that teaching was less attractive to men because it was easier to earn more money with far less stress in other fields. This lopsided representation of women in teaching denies students a range of role models, says NEA president Reg Weaver.
NEW SOLUTION TO WORLD POVERTY: LET WOMEN WORK
According to a recent report from the World Bank, women are a ‘huge untapped” resource in the Middle East and also Africa, where the highest proportion of dependents to wage earners in the world can be found. Women make up half the population in these regions but comprise only 32 % of the labor force. This leaves, on average, two nonworking dependents for every wage earner “No country can raise the standard of living and improve the well-being of its people without the participation of half of its population,” say the financial experts at the WB.
CHANGE FROM THE INSIDE OUT
There are many feminists within Muslim cultures who are working to advance women’s rights. Journalist Rana Husseini of Jordan is one. Despite death threats, she has kept alive a public debate on so-called honor crimes where women are murdered after divorce, rape, or adultery to preserve the honor of her family. The murderer, often a relative, is then given a light sentence or none at all. Important figures in Jordan, like Queen Noor have publically opposed leniency, taking on the ire of conservative traditionalists who support it. Recently the Turkish parliament approved a civil rights law that repealed a law that reduced prison sentenses for honor murderers.
GREAT WOMEN WE'VE LOST
Janet Collins, who died in May at age 86, was the first black ballet dancer to be a permanent member of the Metropolitan Opera. Her talent was recognized early on, and she studied with top dancers in Los Angeles, where she grew up. At 15, she was offered a job in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The catch was that she was asked to perform in whiteface to “match” the rest of the company. She declined the job, and embarked on a career in vaudeville, musicals and films, that led to Broadway and the New York dance world. She also performed solo concerts, which attracted great critical praise, and was a respected choreographer, creating dances for herself, and for companies such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Linda Malabot, who died May 19 at age 49, created the Asian Pacific Film and Video Festival in Los Angeles to showcase the under-represented work of her fellow Asian American film makers. Her own films included Planting Roots: A Pictorial History of Filipinos in California, and Imaging: A Century of Asian Women in Film.
Brianne Murphy, one of the few female cinematographers in Hollywood, died at age 70 on August 20. And when we say few, we mean few: 99% of films have male directors of photography. Ms. Murphy was the first female member of the Hollywood cinematographers’ union, even though one union official told her, “My wife don’t drive a car, and you’re not going to operate a camera. You’ll get in over my dead body.” In 1980 she became the first female D.P. on a major studio feature, Fatso, and was invited to join the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers. For fifteen years she was the society’s only female member; her death left just five female members today.
Mildred Thompson, who died at the age of 68 on September 1, was one of the few African-American female artists trained in European abstract expressionism. She studied art at Howard University in Washington D.C. and spent three years at the Hamburg Art Academy in Germany. Feeling discriminated against as a black artist by American galleries, Ms. Thompson left the U.S. in 1961 for Duren, Germany. She taught, created and exhibited her artwork there for the next 13 years until her return to America in 1977 when friends finally convinced her that the country was more welcoming to ethnic artists. Known for her vibrantly colored abstract paintings, Ms. Thompson produced more than 5,000 paintings, etchings, drawings, silk-screens and sculptures for which she credits her German training for her versatility in many media. Her work is in the premanent collections of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the American Federation of the Arts and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Collection of Fine Arts.
The Dish on Discrimination SUMMER 2003
HIS BINGE ISN'T OVER BUT IT'S TIME TO PURGE HIM
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world protested the war in Iraq. The big question for now is how to keep up the pressure on the Bush administration and send those guys packing in 2004. We know people are demoralized because the protests didn't stop the war. But we also know, after 18 years of activism that has made a difference, that you don't stop fighting because you can't change everything, you just keep trying to change one small thing at a time.
THE ARMY IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD...PERSONS
We've all noticed the new face of the army filled with women and persons of color. The military is in the forefront of social change concerning race and gender. It has more diversity than most other institutions, including the elected legislature of the U.S. government it works for! The army is even filing a brief in the Supreme Court in support of the University of Michigan's Affirmative Action Policy. Women and people of color join the army for educational training they cannot afford, and career oportunities they cannot find, in civilian life.
But seeing women fight next to men, killing, getting killed, being wounded, or taken prisoner is a bitter reward for feminist progress. If women and people of color had more economic opportunities, if they played a bigger role in the decision to go to war, would the U.S. still be so quick to settle its grievances by deploying the world's largest collection of weapons of mass destruction?
OUT OF THE ASHES IN RWANDA
After the tribal massacres of the early 90s, Rwanda was left a devastated country, full of widows and fatherless children. In this void, Rwandan women started doing things they never could before. Here are some current stats: 61 % female literacy (highest in Africa); 25% of parliament female (highest in the world outside Scandinavia, twice the US percentage); boys and girls go to schools at same rate (before genocide there were 9 boys for every girl in school); over 50% of university graduates are women (compared to 6% just ten years ago). Guerrilla Girls see hope in this aftermath to bloodshed and violence. Maybe it will make future wars less likely.
IT'S NOT LOOTING, IT'S ART COLLECTING
The art world watched with horror the looting of the great museums and historical sites of Iraq, while the U.S. army did nothing. Phillipe de Montebello, director of the Met Museum in New York, called for amnesty for all looters, provided they return what they took. But let's take a closer look behind Phillipe's veil of high culture. Did he really mean what he said?
There is a long-standing ideological debate about where ancient artifacts belong. Should collectors and museums be allowed to buy them? Or, should they remain in situ-and even be returned to their original locations by museums and collectors that acquired (looted?)them in the past? Museums, along with art dealers-who make big bucks from the transactions-argue the former; archaeologists and historians argue the latter. This dispute surfaced during pre-war meetings between both sides, and the military, to try to prevent the cultural devestation that happened during the First Bush War in 1991. They couldn't agree on a joint position. The result-an agreement with the Pentagon not to bomb important sites, but no agreement to protect them afterwards.
So when a Museum director appeals to looters to do the right thing, we can't help but thinking that he secretly hopes that they won't return the stuff. After all, the looted objects will soon find their way into private collections and the collectors will eventually donate most of them to museums. The art business will make lots of money along the way. That's been the story of European and American museums from the get-go. Why change things now, especially with all these great objects from Iraq suddenly available?
OUR MOLE AT THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
Info has always been passed to us by supporters “embedded” in the museums and galleries we've exposed. Recently we got a letter from a Tour Guide in training at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Our mole reported that while the museum prides itself on diversity and even formed a committee to purchase African American Art, it does almost nothing to include the work in museum tours. Art by women and men of color remains marginalized and optional. In fact, there's not one work by an African American on display in the permanent Modern/Contemporary Galleries! Guides are instructed to give vague and incomplete answers to any questions about the Black Art at the Museum. The Guerrilla Girls believe that any museum that tells the history of our culture without the voices of African Americans is not telling the real story. Museums Moles everywhere: send us your dirty laundry and we might just hang it up right on this page!
NEW SCIENTIFIC METHODS?
21 women were among the 72 scientists inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2003. Usuually the percentage of women is 5 to 10 percent. This year it is way higher—29%, the most ever.
SAME OLD PINK COLLAR
In spite of advances in education and employment over the last 20 years, the American Association of University Women reports that most women are still working in traditional, lower-paying, pink collar jobs—as teachers, nurses, secretaries, bookkeepers, sales supervisors, waitresses, receptionists and cooks. Few women are training for fields like computer science, engineering and technology. The question of the 21st century just might be, “why?”—especially when women are standing next to men on the new battlefield. (See above.)
GUERRILLAS IN THE MIDST OF 2003: GG NEWS UPDATE
We spent the winter and spring doing antiwar posters (The Estrogen Bomb, The Women's Terror Alert System, The Real Homeland Terror Alert, and George Bush's Letter to Santa); creating a new anti-Hollywood campaign (The Trent L'Ottscar Billboard); and appearing at twenty schools around the country. We met some amazingly dedicated activists, artists and teachers. Thanks to you all, and keep up the good work.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we were part of Operation Strangelove in New York, discussing satire in political art with co-panelists Janeane Garofalo, Art Spiegelman, David Rees, Gene Seymour, and others, after a screening of the film Dr. Strangelove. In the last few months, our work has appeared in Premiere, Wired, Artforum, the Village Voice, Variety, the Los Angeles Times, Complot magazine Mexico, Fiber magazine, Vienna, Frauen Unterwegs, Germany, La Republica, Italy, and on many TV and radio stations. We've been anthologized in Feminism is Eternal, edited by Robin Morgan (Robin we love you!!!!), and Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, edited by Amelia Jones and Nicholas Mirzoeff. Our posters and excerpts from our books were included in over twenty other books and textbooks, including David Joselit's American Art since 1945. (Whoever thought students would study this crazy stuff!)
Now we're finishing our third book, Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: the Guerrilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereoytpes, and planning a bunch of actions and appearances in the fall. Check out our datebook to see if we are coming to your city.
IN MEMORIAM, THREE GREAT WOMEN
Did Monique Wittig's idea of heaven turn out to be true?
Monique Wittig, French lesbian feminist writer and filmmaker, died January 3 at age 67. In one of her novels, female warriors flay their male foes then tan and display their skins. In another, heaven is full of lesbians on motorcycles. Her most recent work was “The Girl,” a film she made with her partner.
Sayonara Yayori Matsui
The winter claimed one of the most revered Japanese feminist and peace activists, Yayori Matsui, who died in Tokoyo at the age of 68. A journalist by trade and an activist by conviction, Matsui was the founder of the Violence Against Woman in War Network which sponsored the Women's International War Crimes Trial held in 2000. In a symbolic trial, it found the Emperor of Japan directly responsible for the military's use of asian women as sex slaves during WW2. Up until her death, she was working on plans for a Women's Museum of War and Peace. We sure hope the important work she started continues.
And goodbye to Tahia Halim
Egypt's most well-known female artist, Tahiya Halim, died May 24, 2003 at the age of 83 in Cairo. She was known for bold paintings about Egyptian daily life, war and human suffering.
THE DISH ON DISCRIMINATION SPRING 2003
Been out protesting the war and speaking at schools all over the country so we haven't had time to do a Spring newsletter, but below are two pieces we did for the Village Voice a couple of weeks ago to accompany an article by Richard Goldstein about Bush's record on women's rights.The first is a reworking of an anti-war poster that came out of workshop we did recently at Case Western Reserve University. The second is an update on our Estrogen Bomb poster. See you in the streets.
The Dish on Discrimination WINTER 2003
GEORGE BUSH'S LETTER TO SANTA
The Guerrilla Girls go all over the world doing performances and we also do workshops, where we work with students on issues that are important to them and us. Below is a poster from a recent workshop at the University of Michigan. For a bigger image, go to Santa.
A CHILLING REPORT FROM AFGHANISTAN
Afghan women gained rights after the Taliban fell, but things are getting worse again. According to Human Rights Watch, women in Afghanistan are increasingly denied basic rights and subjected to public abuse. In Herat, women talking to strange men have been taken to hospitals and given chastity examinations. Boys have been told to spy on women and girls and report Un-Islamic behavior, like walking alone at night. Females have been beaten for being improperly veiled. In other parts of Afghanistan, arsonists have attacked girls' schools and female students have been threatened by men with guns. Afghan women's groups like RAWA need your continued support. http://www.rawa.org
IT'S NOT JUST THE ECONOMY, STUPID
While women's salaries in the US still lag an average of 27% behind men, for comparable work, it's not a steady stat across the fifty states. Many states are way worse than others. Or, to put it more positively, some states are way BETTER than others. Which states have the smallest gender gap between men's and women's earnings? The states with the highest educational levels? NO. The states with the highest per capita income? NO. The states with the highest number of Ladyfest attendees? NO. The states with the highest proportion of FEMALE LEGISLATORS have the smallest gender gap. Women of the World, Unite to Elect more Women!...vote your pocketbook!
We just couldn't resist entering the controversy over the males only policy of the Augusta National Golf Club. The Guerrilla Girls think that next year's most prestigious golf tournament SHOULD AND MUST be held at Georgia's all-male bastion of balls. Why? Because of the NAME of the Tournament. We think it's fitting and proper that something called the Master's Tournament be held at a club that consists of Masters only. (We would insist that it be called the Massa's Tournament, but we heard they had a couple of African American members.) Be a tiger, Tiger, and threaten to boycott the event.
TV NETWORKS DON'T LIKE THEIR REPORT CARD
The Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition was formed in 2000 by the NAACP, National Latino Media Coalition, American Indians in Film and TV and the Asian Pacific Legal Consortium to pressure the TV networks to increase diversity both in front of and behind the camera. That year, they got the networks to sign pledges promising increased hiring of people of color. In 2002 the Coalition released a “report card” showing that little progress had been made. Fox got a C, ABC a C-, NBC a D and CBS a D-. Now the networks are attacking the Coalition. Is the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition “misguided, unwieldy and unfocussed” as Fox and NBC claim, or are the networks just angry that they got bad marks in the Coalition's 2002 Report Card? We say to the TV moguls: stop complaining about your grades and start doing the homework.
AND UNIVERSITIES GET BAD GRADES, TOO
According to Harvard Magazine, “women currently represent 36 percent of full-time faculty compared to 23 percent in the early 1970s. Although this represents a very substantial gain nationwide, women constitute only 25 percent of the full-time faculty at research universities, versus 10 percent in 1970. Faculty of color remain a very small part of the professoriate. (Whites constituted 95 percent of all faculty members in 1972 and 83 percent in 1997.) Most of the growth in minority participation has been by Asian Americans, from 2.2 percent in 1975 to 4.5 percent in 1997. The percentage of African-American faculty members at all levels has been remarkably stagnant—4.4 percent in 1975 and 5 percent in 1997—and almost half of all black faculty teach at historically black colleges. The increase in Hispanic faculty has also been slow: from 1.4 percent in 1975 to 2.8 percent in 1997.” For more stats and an analysis of why things have changed so little since the 1970's, go to http://www.harvard-magazine.com/on-line/030218.html.
NEW YORK TIMES UNCOVERED
We met a media researcher recently at the University of Michigan. He claims that the highbrow New York Times has a sneaky way to put undressed women on page three, just like the British tabloids do. Lurid Brit dailies offer luscious babes on the third page so that guys (and gals, too) can start their day with a little T&A. No bare breasts on page three of the NYT, but most days you'll find an ad showing a woman in underwear, sexy clothes or high heels. Check it out!
BEAUTY IN CHAINS
First, the Miss World Pageant scheduled to be held in Nigeria that set off riots there and resulted in numerous deaths. It's hard to imagine why a government with a judicial system poised to execute a mother for bearing a child out of wedlock agreed to an invasion by armies of underdressed beauties from all corners of the world in the first place. Rescheduled and moved to London, what a strange bit of international combat it was, ending with the adversaries hugging each other and the winner in tears!
Then, a beauty contest in Lithuania went where no other contest has gone before. Women serving prison sentences competed for the title of Miss Captivity on national TV. Only the youngest prisoners qualified (between 17-31) and they took a pledge not to reveal on camera their real names or what crimes they had been sent up for. Contestants sang and danced in motorcycle hats and leather bikinis, then paraded in a grand finale modeling...wedding gowns! The winner, a single mom raising her child in prison, entered so that her invalid mother could get a glimpse of her on TV.
KAY ROSE, FIRST WOMAN TO WIN AN OSCAR FOR SOUND EDITIING
While no woman has ever won the Oscar for directing, sound recording or cinematography, a VERY few have won other technical awards. Kay Rose, who died at 80 in December, 2002, won the Oscar for sound editing for the 1984 film “The River.” She began her career as a civilian apprentice making documentaries for the Army Signal Corps during WWII. In 1944 she moved to Hollywood and was down to her last $5. when she managed to charm her way past the guards at the gates of Universal Studios and convince the editorial department to hire her. She worked on “some of the worst movies you've ever imagined.” as she put it, but eventually worked her way up to films like “Ordinary People,” “On Golden Pond,” “Crimes of the Heart,” and “Robocop 2.” Less than two months before she died, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas endowed the Kay Rose Chair in the Art of Sound and Dialogue Editing at the USC School of Film and Television.
The Dish on Discrimination FALL 2002
HOW TO FIGHT A WAR
In this difficult time, when it seems that George W. will soon be invading Iraq, we've been thinking about his Daddy's war ten years ago. Below is one of our anti Gulf War posters from that time.
We didn't succeed in stopping that war and we probably won't stop this one either, but we're going to try. We hope you'll join us. We're working on some new antiwar projects, and we'd love to hear your ideas, too.
WOMEN AND AIDS
Women now comprise 63% of new cases of HIV among people in their late teens and early twenties. The majority are Africans. The problem: men won't wear condoms, rape is prevalent in some cultures, and the myth that sex with a virgin can cure men of AIDS results in them seeking out young girls for sex who are then infected with the disease. “It's women and girls who are overwhelmingly the casualties of this scourge and it's getting worse,“ said Stephen Lewis, the UN secretary-general's special envoy on AIDS in Africa.
TOP ART DEALER REVEALS WHAT SHE'S MISSED
An exhibit making its way around the US right now highlights the personal collection of Ileanna Sonnabend, one of the top art dealers of the last 40 years. You'd think a woman art dealer would have some women's art in her collection? Sorry. Out of 81 works in the show, 2 are by women artists and 3 are by male/female teams. That's it. And none are by artists of color. In 2002. Think we've been attacking the art world all these years for no reason? Think again. The show was at the Tang Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York and will travel to the Wexner Center, Columbus, Ohio in the fall. You might want to write to these museums, or to the Sonnabend Gallery in New York.
WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT OF WOMEN IN POSITIONS OF POWER...
The Director's Guild of America finally has its first female president, film director Martha Coolidge. Will she speak out about discrimination in Hollywood, where only 4% of last year's movies were directed by women? “We're committed to making this happen,“ she says of improving things for women, “if it has to be by cajoling the studios, embarrassing them, or whatever.“ HMMM. Sounds like she's asking for more Guerrilla Girls stickers and billboards.
...AND WOMEN WITH POWER TOOLS
On average, electricians make $19 an hour, computer specialists $17. Almost all of them are male. And so are the technical schools that train them: plumbing and electrical schools are 94% men, welding and carpentry 92%, auto mechanic 92%. Liberals say that technical schools steer women away from these lucrative fields and into more traditionally female jobs like Health aides($11. an hour) or beauticians ($8.) Conservatives say that women don't want those masculine jobs. We say, it's time for women to enroll in tech schools en masse and crack these professions, just like we've cracked so many others.
THE TV RACE
Here are some stats from the 2001-2 TV season. Only 5 out of 85 TV shows had African American Executive producers, and four of those were on African American shows. Latinos are 12% of the US population, but only 2% of TV characters. While most TV shows last year had at least one person of color in their cast, only 2 of the 26 new series on ABC, NBC ,CBS and Fox had people of color in starring roles. UPN was the exception: 28% of that network's characters were African American.
A TRIBUTE TO ANTONIA PANTOJA
Antonia Pantoja, Puerto Rican activist, died at the age of 80 earlier this year. “She was the single most important figure in the development of the Puerto Rican community in New York City and nationally,“ said Angelo Falcon of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. She came to the US from Puerto Rico in 1944 and worked as a welder. Later, she earned a BA in sociology at Hunter College, a masters in social work from Columbia and a doctorate from Union Graduate School in Ohio. In 1953 she formed the Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs. Then came the Puerto Rican Forum and, in 1961, Aspira, an organization dedicated to improving educational opportunites for Latino youngsters. Aspira won a class-action lawsuit in 1974 that paved the way for bilingual education. It continues to train generations of leaders. After a stint as a professor at the San Diego State University, Ms. Pantoja and her life partner moved to Puerto Rico, where they founded two organizations to foster economic development and then back to New York where she continued her work with the Nuyorican community.
...AND DORIS WISHMAN, B-MOVIE DIRECTOR
She was a rare female in the world of low budget “Nudie,” “Roughie,” “Chestie” and “Slasher” flicks. She made thirty, from 1962 to 2002, writing, directing, editing and producing almost all of them. “Nude on the Moon,” her first, was banned in New York in 1962. Her last film, “Each Time I Kill,” will be out later this year. Some of her other titles: “A Night to Dismember,” “Satan Was A Lady,” “Another Day, Another Man,” and our personal favorite,“Bad Girls Go to Hell.” She died in August.
The Dish on Discrimination SPRING/SUMMER 2002
HOW THE ANTATOMICALLY CORRECT OSCAR BILLBOARD WENT OVER IN HOLLYWOOD
The Oscar billboard we did with the Alice Locas group was a big hit in Hollywood from March 1-31, 2002, except among a few angry white guys. We got a lot of press attention for our cause: tv news; newspapers from LA to Europe to Australia; radio talk shows, etc. The Los Angeles Times even got the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to say they supported our redesign of the Oscar. We've also received letters— positive and negative— from people around the world. See ouremail page for a selection.
As you know by now, at the Oscars on March 25 for the first time ever a woman of color--Halle Berry--won Best Actress and for the second time ever, an African American won best actor. The Guerrilla Girls are extremely happy about this. We've received lots of letters from people around the world asking if this is tokenism or is Hollywood finally changing? We think it's probably both.
One of the most interesting things we learned doing over 30 press interviews about women and people of color in the film industry is that we have an unexpected ally in our fight against discrimination in Hollywood: conservative talk radio. Why? Apparently because they hate Hollywood even more than they hate feminism. Even the callers were pretty supportive.
Thank you all for writing to us and for sending our billboard around the world. But our work isn't over yet. The latest figures from Martha Lauzen, the San Diego State professor who studies the film industry, show that the number of women directors working on the top 100 films last year dropped to 4%. And we are also planning a campaign about the content in films. For instance, did you know that the part of the wife in “A Beautiful Mind” was “whitewashed” to leave out the fact that she was, in real life, San Salvadoran?
TURN BEAUTY INSIDE OUT DAY
We've been ranting and raving for years about Hollywood's obsession with thinness, both on screen (ever skinnier actresses) and behind the scenes (emaciated numbers of women directors, writers, editors, cinematographers, etc.) New Moon, a publisher of books for teenage girls, is planning to storm Hollywood on May 15, 2002, bringing girls from all over the U.S. into the offices of movie and tv execs to tell them what girls want, what we really really want. Will it make a difference? We hope so. And anyway, things couldn't get much worse. http://newmoon.org/tbiod/index.html
HELP US DO SOMETHING ABOUT DISCRIMINATION IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
We're getting lots of interesting info about discrimination in the music business and we'd like to hear more from all of you so we can launch a poster/sticker campaign. We love Rockrgrl magazine's Hall of Fame/Hall of Shame Awards. As Rockrgrl explains, “While many equipment manufacturers recognize women's accomplishments in the rock arena, others have been slower to warm up to the idea. Some manufacturers' ads actually serve to discourage, repel and even alienate women—who represent 52% of equipment-purchasing consumers. The Hall of Fame winning ads show women as dedicated, respected musicians practicing their art. The Hall of Shame ads show things like: a guy playing guitar while an adoring babe looks on, or a bunch of guys watching a scantily-clad all-girl band perform, with the headline, “Sometimes you pay $12. to hear bad music. Sometimes bad music is worth $12.”
...AND THE I.T. INDUSTRY
The number of women using the internet is huge, but the number behind the scenes isn't. We received a bunch of stats from a GG supporter in Canada, where only 25% of university computer tech grads are female, 50% less than received degrees15 years ago. One problem: girls don't get info about I.T. jobs in high school, especially about jobs dealing with hardware.
...AND INDUSTRY IN GENERAL
According to a Congressional study, Women make up about 50% of the US work force, but only 12% of the managers. On average, female managers make 79 cents for every dollar that male managers make. 60% of women execs have no children, 60% of men do. Randell Johnson, Vice President for Labor Relations at the United States Chamber of Commerce, explained this disparity by stating that women probably had less seniority than men. Good luck, Mr. Johnson, you'll be hearing from the Guerrilla Girls...and from our supporters. Write Randel at U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20062-2000.
CHARITY ADAMS EARLY, WAC COMMANDER
Major Adams was one of only two African American women to hold that rank during World War II. She was commissioned in the first all-black unit of the WAC and served overseas in England and France. She stood up for her herself and her subordinates in the face of rampant discrimination. One time, a general inspecting her battalion—angry that women on work or sleep shifts would not be present—told her, “I'm going to send a white first lieutenant down here to show you how to run this unit,” Major Adams replied, “Over my dead body, sir.” When the general threatened to court martial her, she threatened to file charges against him for failing to follow an directive that officers to refrain from dissing racial segregation. Both eventually dropped the issue and the general later told Major Adamas he had come to respect her. After the war, she was promoted to lieutenant colonel. She left the army in 1946, received a masters degree in vocational psychology from Ohio State and became a dean at Tenessee A&M and Georgia State Colleges. Ms. Adams died on January 22, 2002 at the age of 83.
POLITICAL ASYLUM FOR LESBIANS AND GAYS MAY BE NO ASYLUM AT ALL
In 1994, after the Board of Immigration granted asylum to a gay man, Attorney General Janet Reno directed the courts and immigration officers to use the decision as a precedent. Since then, lesbians and gays from over 35 countries have come to the US to escape persecution, jail, even execution. When they get here, however, they still have to face persecution Amercian-style. A Lebanese woman received asylum after her family threatened to report her homosexuality to the police, who would have put her in jail. In the US, she found herself working with other Arabs and as terrified of discovery as she had been in Lebanon. She now stays out of Arab American neighborhoods and is afraid to be open about her sexuality. Gay men have reported attacks from fellow countrymen and US police. Amnesty International lists over 30 countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East that persecute homosexuals, including the US, cited for antisodomy laws and police brutality. The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force in New York provides help for asylum seekers.
The Dish on Discrimination WINTER 2001
FASHION MAGS, BEWARE!
The GGs like to dress up as much as the next girl, or at least some of us do, but we agree with the survey that shows that reading a fashion magazine for 10 minutes lowers a woman's self-esteem. Fashion models today weigh 23% less than the average female. We think the thin, thinner, thinnest mentality in the media is unhealthy for everyone, including the starving actresses and models. So we were intrigued by a letter we received recently containing a GREAT IDEA: A class-action suit against fashion magazines:
I am a teenage girl in Memphis, TN and earlier today I was sobbing because I had gained weight and could not fit into a skirt I had bought. When I stopped crying, I wondered why I was so upset. It's because of how I'm told I'm supposed to look. Media outlets perpetuate an ideal beauty, but I think fashion magazines are the worst. They are blatantly hypocritical. Many contain articles about self-esteem and eating disorders along with ads of perfect models and entire sections devoted to weight loss. I thought about myself and all the other girls I knew who had read one of these magazines and felt bad about the way they looked. Then I thought of the magic phrase, “emotional distress.”I would like to file a class action lawsuit against the companies that publish these magazines and either drive them out of business or, hopefully, make them change their content. I would appreciate any help or advice you have to offer on the subject.
What do you think? Want to join us? Any lawyers out there who would be willing to give it a shot? Handled right, the PR value could be awesome.
More than five million Americans suffer from eating disorders. We thought you might like to know that some anorexic women have put up pro-anorexia web sites. One site proclaims,“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” Another has text saying, “If you are recovered or recovering from an eating disorder please, pleas, PLEASE do not visit my site. ...But if you are like me and your eating disorder is your best friend and you aren't ready to give it up, please continue.” We hope that girl is still alive.
SAY IT AINT SO, A GENDER GAP IN THE DANCE WORLD?
72% of NEA grants for Choreography in 2000 were awarded to men. Thirteen men received an average grant of $10,000. apiece.Three women received an average of $5000. apiece. Most of the companies appearing at prestigious NY venues̬American Dance Festival, Brooklyn Academy Next Wave Festival, Joyce Theatre, etc.—were headed by men. Any dancers out there need some Guerrilla Girls posters?
Amex, Merryl Lynch and AOL Time Warner are Fortune 500 companies that have African-American CEOs, but we won't consider the glass ceiling completely shattered until more women of color occupy the executive suite.
This summer, for the first time ever, 3 out of the top 5 books of fiction on the New York Times best-seller List were by African-Americans writers. One publisher said that about 30% of the books in her company's 2001 Spring catalog were by or about African-Americans. Why now? Two trends have converged. First, publishers have finally tuned in to the fact that African-Americans are a big reading market. Second, non-African-Americans have realized that these books are for everyone.
LESBIANS TAKE OVER CALIFORNIA
76% of gays and lesbians feel more accepted by society than they did a few years ago, but 74% report encountering verbal abuse because of their sexual preference. The California State Legislature now has four lesbian legislators out of 120. Their numbers are small, but their influence is big: they are making a difference on many issues, including getting Governor Gray Davis to sign a bill giving new legal benefits to gays and lesbians who register as domestic partners. The new domestic partner law in California gives homosexual couples more rights than in any state but Vermont.
CALIFORNIA'S FIRST FEMALE STATE SENATOR AND HER BELL
Which reminds us about the trials and tribulations of Rose Ann Vuich, the first female of any kind in the California State Senate. One of her initial acts upon arriving in Sacremento in 1977 was to have a women's restroom built...and named after her. She refused to identify herself as a feminist, but every time a male colleague began a speech with “Gentlemen of the Senate...” she rang a cowbell to remind him that it was no longer a boys club. Senator Vuich died recently at age 74.
MUSEUMS FINALLY ADOPT A CODE OF ETHICS
We've been ragging on them for years for their unethical practices, like letting wealthy art collectors sit on committees that decide what art the museum should buy. But it wasn't until 2001 that the American Association of Museums finally took the plunge, offering “voluntary” ethical guidelines, which don't go nearly far enough. We're still waiting for them to adopt the Guerrilla Girls' Code of Ethics for Art Museums.
Copyright © 1989 Guerrilla Girls
MUSEUM ETHICS PART 2:
The Guerrilla Girls have always maintained that public museums have a special repsonsibility to be inclusive in their presentation of art and to not support discrimination, even if that discrimination has been perpetrated by one of their biggest donors. Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections, now on exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, contains work by one artist of color and 4 women out of 25 artists. That's 4% and 14%, respectively. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
THE INTERIM GOVERNMENT OF AFHANISTAN IS JUST ABOUT AS PROGRESSIVE AS HOLLYWOOD:
Women in the interim Afghani cabinet: 6%
Women directors of the 100 top films last year: 7%.
As you know, the number of women and people of color working behind the scenes in Hollywood as directors, writers, sound engineers, editors and cinematographers is really pathetic...as bad as the art world was 15 years ago! The Guerrilla Girls and Alice Locas, a new anonymous group of women film makers, put together a bunch of stickers pointing out the sexism and racism that's rampant in the film industry. We premiered them at the Sundance Film Festival, then put them all over New York and Los Angeles: in bathroom stalls, on movie posters, anywhere a Girl can stick 'em up! We even had undercover GG agents putting them up at the Oscar ceremony.
Thanks to so many of you for putting these stickers up all over the world. We've received email from people who've stuck them up in Australia, Europe and Canada as well as the US. We've also received many irate letters from movie theater owners. Watch for us at the Oscars in 2002!
HAVE YOU BEEN STEREOTYPED?
We're looking for stories from women who have been victims of stereotyping, or women who are living stereotypes and proud of it. Are you or do people think of you as a Jewish princess, Soccer Mom, Bitch, Slut, Home Girl, Dragon Lady, etc.? Send your stories to: email@example.com. They may wind up in our next book.
GG NEWS ROUND UP:
2001 WAS OUR YEAR TO BE HONORED FOR OUR GRAPHIC DESIGN:
The Guerrilla Girls were very excited to receive the Art is a Hammer Award from the Center For the Study of Politcal Graphics, at a ceremony in Los Angeles in June. The CSPG printed a special silkscreen version of our “Birth of Feminism” poster for the occasion. Earlier this year, the graphic design magazine ID put us on their cover and named us one of the top socially-conscious designers in the US.
POSTERS BY THE GGS WERE IN THE FOLLOWING EXHIBITIONS IN 2001:
Resistance, Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm; Art and Ideology, Museum of Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain; PhenomANON: 2 Decades of Ephemeral Urban Guerrilla Artfare, Independent Media Center, Seattle, WA
...AND THE FOLLOWING PERIODICALS:
Ms, Bitch; New Moon; ID; Public Art Review; Adbusters; The Nation; Los Angeles Times;Simples (Brazil); Indiewire; Public Art Review; New Times; Studio Art; Dart Review; Artsymag; Technobabe Times and many more.
Women Artists(Taschen); Launching the Imagination by Mary Stewart (McGraw Hill);Gender in a Transnational World by Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan (McGraw Hill);Enjoying Art by Margaret Lazzari and Dona Schleiser (Harcourt) and many more.
The Dish on Discrimination FALL 2001
BEING A GUERRILLA GIRL IN A TIME OF NATIONAL TRAGEDY
We are shocked by the great loss of life in New York, Washington and now Afghanistan. For the first few weeks after the attacks, we wondered, like so many others, if there would be room for social critics like us during these difficult and uncertain times. Then both the Taliban and Jerry Falwell named feminists and homosexuals as root causes for the September 11 terrorist attack and we were reminded why Guerrilla Girls got into this monkey business in the first place: to fight discrimination and intolerance wherever we find it. In our own country a bloody war was fought to end slavery and an arduous struggle went on for years to win basic rights for women. Still there are religious fundamentalists and other groups in the US who would deny equality to women, condemn homosexuals as deviants and refuse to acknowledge racism, sexism and homophobia in our institutions.
On the other side of the present conflict, there are many countries besides Afghanistan--including US allies-- where woman are not allowed to be educated and where they are beaten, maimed or killed if they don't obey the rules. The public execution of Afghani women in a soccer stadium for adultery and premarital sex, secretly filmed for the documentary “Under the Veil,” was chilling. (see rawa.org, the web site of the Revolutionary Association for the Woman of Afghanistan, for more information on the status of women under the Taliban.) Much of the world does not recognize the basic human rights of every individual regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnic background or sexual orientation.
The Guerrilla Girls have spent 16 years making posters that named names and pointed fingers at individuals we believed took part, either consciously or unconsciously, in discrimination in the worlds of art, film, theater and politics. We used ridicule, humiliation and humor to instigate change. We aped the posture of freedom fighters, guerrillas, but we firmly believe that wit and information are our best and only weapons. During this time of violence and counter violence, we plan to keep agitating, in our own transgressive way, for individual freedom, for tolerance and for nonviolent solutions to national and international disputes. How can we teach our children to resolve their disputes without violence when our government solves its problems with guns and bombs? We condemn the forces of religious conservatism and despotism all over the world and we are outraged at the taking of innocent lives everywhere! We hope you will continue to join us.
GUERRILLA GIRLS URGE IMMEDIATE USE OF OUR NEW BIOLOGICAL WEAPON:
Let's face it, throughout history it's men who've become warriors, declared war on other guys and then fought to the death. So you could say that warfare is biological in origin--that the human race has long been a victim of Toxic Testosterone Poisoning. This deadly infection strikes men everywhere: it gives them the delusion that they are right, and it drives them to physical violence in many forms: combat, terrorism, domestic abuse, etc.
Over the years, the Guerrilla Girls have been advocating an antidote to this deadly infection.... a weapon of mass INstruction that the world really needs......the Estrogen Bomb! When dropped on an area of conflict, we believe high concentrations of estrogen will cause adversaries to lay down their arms, give each other a big hug, apologize, and then offer to clean up the mess. We insist on the immediate deployment of the Estrogen Bomb in Afghanistan and Washington! Please let us know where else it should be dropped.
The Dish on Discrimination SUMMER 2001
BUSINESS AS USUAL?
Why are US business schools having a hard time finding enough female students? For one thing, most graduate business programs require applicants to have several years of work experience: you can't go for an MBA right out of college. Women who would have been happy to go to grad school at 22 find it more difficult at 28, when many have started a family.
Here's the good news: a few schools are reaching out to female students, providing flexible schedules for mothers, course content featuring female entrepreneurs, and special scholarships.
“This is something that doesn't take care of itself,” says Meyer Feldberg, Dean of Columbia University Business School. “You have to be consciously vigilant.” Here's something else Professor Feldberg and his colleagues should be vigilant about: women make up only 11% of deans and 12% of full professors at US Business schools. (Source: Wall Street Journal 7.25.01)
ABOVE THE LAW
Despite the fact that more women than men are entering law school, female lawyers still earn, on average, about $20,000. less per year than their male counterparts. And, according to a report by the American Bar Association, women make up only a small percentage of law firm partners, law school deans and judges.
The ABA also found that women lawyers still face unconscious stereotyping, lack of suppport networks, inflexible hours, and bias in the court system. One study found that 75% of women lawyers had been sexually harrassed at work! (Source: Los Angeles Times report 4.27.01 on ABA Journal's 2000 Poll and ABA Commission on Women in the Profession)
ARE YOU WHAT YOU EAT?
This came recently from an honorary Guerrilla Girl:
I am a college student at Truman State University and I would like to bring up an interesting male-dominant product. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to think of a female childrens' cereal character. After brainstorming, I went to the store and realized that out of the 20 cereals that have some sort of character on the box, 20 of them were male. This just intrigues me, a product which shouldn't be marketed to male of female, I just can't figure out why. Anyways, such a small bump in the road to equality, and yet it seems to be so deeply rooted in our culture that we don't even realize it. Here are the characters/cereals I found:
Honey Comb ------------ Male Bee
Fruity/Cocco Pebbles -- Fred and Barney
Golden Crisps --------- Male Bear
Cookie Crisps---------- Male Dog and Policeman
Trix------------------- Male Rabbit
Cinnamon Toast Crunch-- Male Chef
Franken Berry---------- Frankenstein
Count Chocula---------- Count Chocula
Coco Puffs------------- Male bird
Nes Quick ------------- Male Rabbit
Honey Nut Cheerios ---- Male Bee
Lucky Charms ---------- Leprechaun
Frosted flakes -------- Tony the Tiger
Honey Smacks ---------- Male Frog
Corn Flakes ----------- Rooster
Coco Krispies --------- Male chimp
Rice Krispies --------- Snap, Crackle, and Pop guys
King Vitamin ---------- King Vitamin
The news about women and body image is usually bad, but some good news about the subject caught our eye the other day: an article in USA Today claimed that more and more women in their 40's and 50's are wearing bikinis. One 50+ woman said she didn't care about perfection, she just wants to wear what she feels like wearing. The Guerrilla Girls have always felt that if women could stop obsessing over what they look like, we could take over the world.(Source: USA Today, 7.23.01)
HOLLYWOOD: THE GREAT WHITE WAY?
The NAACP has been meeting with Film and TV studios since 1999 in a campaign to increase the number of people of color working in Hollywood. Here's just one of the dire statistics: of 839 writers employed on 95 TV shows in 1999, 6% were African American, 1% were Latino, 0.3% were Asian-American and none were Native American.
In 2000, the NAACP created a multi-ethnic coalition of African-American,
Latino, Asian-American and American Indian groups and issued “report
cards” for the TV networks. None got over a “D.” A 2001 report
card was recently released. Here's how the industry improved:
The slight increases were mostly due to more actors of color in front of the camera. That's all well and good, but behind the scenes on the tech crews and creative staffs, things stayed pretty much the same.
(Source: Los Angeles Times May 24, 2001)
Did you know that wealthy art collectors sit on committees that vote on what works of art museums should buy? Artists get no say, members of the public get no say, but individuals who donate lots of money do. A NYT article about Larry Rinder, a Whitney Museum curator, followed him to dinner with a novice collector who had just donated $25,000 to join such a committee. For that amount, the collector gets to tell the Whitney what to collect. This gave us a great idea, which we proposed in the letter to Curator Rinder, below.
Monday, June 11, 2001
The Whitney Museum
945 Madison Avenue
NY, NY 10021
Congrats on the May 2 article about you in The New York Times. Reading it,
the Guerrilla Girls were reminded once again how pathetic the art world is
in these United States. This is the paragraph that caught our beady eyes:
“Greg Miller, a 35-year-old investment banker at Credit Suisse First
Boston, is a case in point. Last fall, he joined the Whitney's ‘contemporary
committee,’ which means that he donated the required fee of $25,000.
for the privilege of attending four meetings a year and VOTING ON MUSEUM PURCHASES.”
Now, we have nothing against Mr. Miller, but why should a collector be able
to purchase a say in what a museum collects? And when will any museum employee
have the guts to speak out against corrupt practices like this one? We know
the Whitney, like most museums, is desperate for money in a country where
there is virtually no government support for the arts, but let's face
it: this kind of behavior would be considered unethical, if not illegal,
in other professions. And worse, it insures that most of the work being
acquired by museums (and preserved for the future)is work that the marketplace
Our solution: the Guerrilla Girls have decided to join your Contemporary
Committee. Because we are a group of artists with varying levels of art
market success, it might take us a little longer than it would an investment
banker to collect the $25,000. required fee. But if you would be so kind
as to forward a schedule of upcoming meetings, we'll tell you when
to expect us.
All our love, Guerrilla Girls
We haven't heard from Larry yet, but when we do, we'll post his reply. In the meantime, we urge all of our supporters to help us raise the money to join the Whitney's Acquistions Committee and help put more women and artists of color where they belong. We urge you to help us buy our way onto the Acquistions Committees of other museums, too. Some of them charge a lot less than $25,000.
We're writing a new book, to be published in 2002, called Bitches,Bimbos and Ballbreakers, the Guerrilla Girl's Illustrated History of Female Stereotypes. Here are a couple of tidbits from our research:
The pink and blue thing: Until the 20th century, baby boys and girls were dressed exactly alike, in frilly dresses. A group of women reformers thought it would be more functional if babies were dressed according to gender. They orignally had the idea that blueshould be for girls and pink for boys. Then they changed their minds and girls got pink and boys blue. Color stereotyping in children's clothes has ruled ever since.
The bitch thing: If a woman is strong and aggressive, she's called a bitch. It used to be a negative stereotype, but now there's a bitch empowerment movement in the US, led by all those tough females who are proud to be called bitches. “ I'm tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.”—Madonna