By Kirsten Johansson
I took a class last semester call Gender, Race and Sexuality. Our professor began the class by asking students to put their hands up to show whether they agreed to the following statements:
I am against violence towards women.
I am for equality between men and women.
I considered myself a feminist.
Every female and male student raised their hands with the first two statements but not the last one. Why? Clearly no one is for violence and inequality, but somehow supporting feminism seems wrong. Has feminism become a dirty word in our generation?
As I showed my reluctant male friend around The Deconstructive Impulse exhibition, I began to learn about the negative cognation in feminism. “They are just so angry,” explained my friend while examining the Gorilla Girls posters. “It’s like they are yelling at me. ” Apparently to be a feminist means you are an angry, bitter woman, who lives alone with cats. No guy wants to be spoken to in an angry tone, and no girl wants to be associated with being a sinister. There is a lack of discussion between the sexes automatically when the word feminism is introduced.
Despite our differences in opinions, my friend and I did find one painting that was agreeable to us both. While reading the statements within Jenny Holzer’s Truism posters, we were both deeply engaged. My friend proudly pointed out the “Women love power” statement to me as though this was proof for his argument that women aren’t victims. In response, I pointed out the “Stupid people shouldn’t breed” statement. Slowly but surely we examined each statement with intrigue and amusement. It dawned on me that perhaps this is the kind of exchange we need in the feminism movement today–a dialogue between the sexes. To solve the problem of violence against women, you need to have a solution to come from both men and women. By no means am I dismissing what these feminist artists have achieved. Perhaps the angry of the 70’s feminism movement needs to toned down in our generation.