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The Witchcraft of Feminism

So I’ve been reading a lot lately; I have always been an avid reader but I have definitely stepped it up a notch these last few weeks. When Alan mentioned we should be reading around our subjects, my mind instantly wandered to the stack of feminist-related titles I have on my bedside table. One book, in particular, has crept into my brain and started the cogs whirring. It came as a recommendation from Cienna Knights on our induction day and I immediately ordered it. ‘Witch’ by Lisa Lister has been a bit of a game changer for me work-wise. (On a personal note, I have loved this so much I ordered 2 more copies to give as gifts for Christmas.) Lister approaches feminism from a different angle; empowering women from within their own bodies. Encouraging us to embrace our femininity, our hidden power and those who suffered before us. When you think about it, Witches are the original Feminists; the original martyrs of the cause, unjustly tortured and slaughtered for daring to be intelligent.

Reading this started to inspire me visually, and I found myself collecting a variety of images and fabrics that I felt came together alongside the text. Academically, I could take a lot from this book and I did collect my favourite quotes and snippets of history to enhance that side of my practice too. I love to put things together into little mood boards that I can look back on when I’m sketching and creating. I think it’s a great way of mashing everything together to pull from later down the line. As much as I enjoy reading and researching ‘academically’, it’s second nature for me to interpret information in this way. It sparked this feeling of anarchy, influences from nature, the feeling of connection and a dark, luxurious texture palette which could influence my eventual design direction.

I love the sumptuous texture of a midnight velvet mixed with this sheet-sequin plastic which gives a moonlit vibe (and yes I do know I’ve spelt misogyny wrong)

I think the main thing this has influenced within my direction, is this feminine energy that I do feel is being pushed out of the Feminist movement. When we think of Feminists as people, we have a stereotyped image of a militant, bra-burning, hairy-legged woman covered from neck to ankle. And yes, these women do exist and thats wonderful, but not all of us look and act in this stereotyped way. Why can’t I be a feminist and be feminine? Why can’t I be a feminist and love to get my boobs out? Why can’t I be a feminist and love pink and make up and shaving my legs (sometimes, when I can be bothered)? Lister’s angle of feminism is about embracing the incredible female body and everything it is capable of doing. I mean, come on, millions of women literally grow and push a human out of them! How badass is that! She doesn’t man-bash or point fingers, she is simply asking women to remember who they are. To remember their power and push back against those who would suppress or judge us….that is a true feminist.

A little bit of spray paint onto velvet gives a fun texture to the fabric

My one big criticism of ‘Witch’ is, she neglects to include those who exist outside the gender binary or don’t identify with their birth sex. For example; transgender women are women, some our most vulnerable and oppressed women, and ‘Witch’ uses language that could be interpreted as leaving this group of women out. Lister references our ‘womb’ as the source of our feminine power. I think this could be a little problematic as it suggests you need a womb or a period to be a woman, which simply isn’t true. Feminism is supposed to fight for equal rights for ALL women, and sometimes it feels like it only fights for CERTAIN women. I have more than enough personal opinions on this topic, but before I go spouting off too much, I want to do some proper grounding research on this. So I will do a dedicated post at some point in the future when I have something to actually back myself up.

#Art #Feminism

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