I first learned about the Guerrilla Girls in a women’s studies class, Feminism and the Arts. I couldn’t believe how unique, creative, compelling, pertinent, and hilarious they were. The Guerrilla Girls use humor to disarm and educate people of sexism in the arts. Equally cool is that they take on the names of deceased kick-ass women and wear masks to conceal their own identities. They do this to keep the focus on issues rather than on themselves. The images in this post are some of their more famous posters.
1. They did a segment in their performance that responded to letters they’ve received. One letter was written by a woman clearly struggling with feminist identity. She wrote that, especially seeing the Guerrilla Girls perform at her school, she really wanted to identify with feminism. Her only concern was that she doesn’t support abortion due to the "negative consequences" it has on women. She wanted to know: can she still be a feminist? The Guerrilla Girls’ response was a straightforward and unapologetic: “NO.” Period. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. I think this issue is SO much more complicated than that so I brought it up to them after the show.
I asked if they could expand on their response because being pro or anti abortion does not a feminist make and there are so many other facets of feminism that need to be taken into account. Obviously this woman, struggling with her own feminist identity, was looking for a genuine response from the Guerrilla Girls, not a simple “no.” The Girls’ response when I brought this up was to lecture me (read: preach to the choir) on the importance of reproductive rights to the feminist movement. Yes, I AGREE and I get it, trust me. I am pro-choice, I am pro-reproductive rights and freedom, I am pro-women (especially pro women making decisions about their own bodies.) That wasn’t at all, in the least bit, my point. My point was that if this women did not agree with abortion, or even if she (OMG I’m gonna say it) was anti-choice, she could still be a feminist. There is not just one strict way to identify with feminism and to isolate those who do not assert the same feminist beliefs as us seems closed-minded and does not better the movement in the least bit. What if this woman worked daily against rape and domestic violence? What if she volunteered as a big sister and mentor to young girls with body image issues? What if she headed a committee at work for the advancement of women in her profession and equal pay for equal work? What if she spent hours campaigning for women to get elected to our male dominated government? What, fucking, if? Not agreeing with one feminist notion does not disqualify someone from being feminist. Yes, reproductive freedom is incredibly important to me and I find it difficult to see how someone anti-choice can consider herself a feminist but if she does, who the hell am I to stop her?
2. I almost forgot I wanted to talk about a second thing. I hate when my entries get too long because then I fear you’ll get bored and not continue reading. I’ll post the second thing the Guerrilla Girls said to piss me off tomorrow. Primarily because I am tired but also because it has a lot do to with the primaries and I’ll wait until all the results are in before I vent. It also has a lot to do with me finally putting an end to apologizing for who I am. I mean this very clearly: in my personal life, in my political opinions, in my relationships, and in my identity as a feminist.
To be continued... :)