The more I blog about the lack of females front and center in kids’ media, it all seems to come down to this: Why aren’t there more women artists?
The obvious answer is that so many women lack access to money and power as Virginia Woolf told us years ago. In order to create, you need a room of your own.
I read another great theory in a book I love called Goddesses in Every Woman. I first read this book in a feminist theory class in college. I re-read it every few years and can’t wait to give it to my daughters when they are old enough. The author, Jean Shinoda Bolen, writes that artists need someone to hold their dream, to believe in them. Many men get this faith and support from the women in their lives, but how many women get the same from men? Partners can give lip service to supporting art, but how many allow for the time and mental obsession it actually requires? Or are secure enough to tolerate the exposure art can result in?
I have a theory as well. I think that the whole “tortured artist” archetype doesn’t apply to most women. This is not to say that women don’t experience pain and despair. But rather, if women are going to create, especially mothers, it’s fairly impossible to get stuck in those emotions. And getting stuck is the closest definition I’ve found to sickness. I think in health, you experience the same range of emotions, just as intensely if not more so, but there is movement instead of stagnation. That movement is key to creating.
Please read my blog post on the book Against Depression titled: What if van Gogh took Prozac? The author, Peter Kramer, shares his fascinating theory on how the origin of our standards for measuring great art came from the depressed Greeks. We’ve been stuck in that warped and limited model ever since. I love this theory because, as a former philosophy major, I am no fan of how those guys screwed up our views on reality and women.
Update: The Guerilla Grrls suggest that a better question would be: Why aren’t more women artists noticed? While I understand this sentiment and agree that much more art by women needs to be recognized and celebrated, so much of art has to do with communication; it’s challenging for it to exist in isolation. I believe that more women need to dedicate themselves to creating.
Women, please write, make art, and change the world.