Since arriving in the UK 8 years ago, this is the first time I have heard so much talk about women’s day.
In my spare time I like to pretend I am an amazing artist.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a self portrait.
I like the androgynous flare of it and it reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s theory regarding the androgynous mind of the artist.
Virginia Woolf puts value in an artist’s ability to create without the impediment of his/her sex, unifying the two sides of his/her mind, the masculine and the feminine, to create something that is incandescent and undivided. The two sides, she thought, must live harmoniously in one’s mind to create effectively, cooperate, and the result is a whole and complete work of art. I particularly appreciate the disengagement of the idea of gender and its characteristics from sexual inclination.
I have often questioned myself on the necessity to label artistic perspective as ‘feminine’ if not ‘feminist’. I really disagree with the constant subdivision, or subtraction, of feminine from a bigger whole.
Not too long ago I visited the Museum of London, where an area is dedicated to the suffragettes’ struggle to have women’s rights recognised. I am grateful for the willingness to fight these women displayed and I like to think that if necessary, I’d be just as ready to fight for a worthy cause. But I find it contradictory that women should have a designated day or for example designated studies.
I can’t help but think that perpetuating this dichotomy of feminine versus (everything else?) is past its time and frankly quite damaging.
If history can teach us anything, it should be not to repeat mistakes; I understand that commemoration is an important part in the shaping of social identity. Revolutions, big and small, are necessary in the evolution of human society, but are by their very own nature temporary: eventually changes are absorbed into society, a new order is established. Memory is necessary to warrant the achievements reached but I wonder at which point does remembrance stops being a cautionary tale and starts being the perpetuation of divisions that actually no longer exist?
What is the value of Women’s Day, to me – a Western, emancipated-born 21st century woman? It’s difficult to say.
On the one hand, it is important to recognise that I am able to say all this because someone before me made sure I could. On the other I almost feel like a burden the necessity to demonstrate that as a woman I can do just as well and quite annoying that my identity should be constrained by a label dictated by gender.
That should suffice.