Gender, Creativity, and Invisibility
Throughout this course, we discuss gender ideology and how it impacts creative expression. Gender ideology is simply ideas about how a person’s gender (distinct from a person’s sex) is shaped through a socialization process, particularly prescribing characteristics and behaviors for a certain sex. From the moment a baby is placed in a pink blanket or a blue one, our culture begins to socialize a person as woman or man.
Over the centuries, this debate about women’s nature, “the woman question,” included such claims as it is in women’s nature to be weak and fragile. The debates often claim that weakness is inherent in females, rather than focusing on the way women are taught and/or socialized. Furthermore, the debate goes, women are suited only for domesticity because of their nature. It has even been argued that women have no souls. Most importantly in our discussion throughout this course is the way these restrictions on women’s lives have impacted their creative expression. In Week 1, we learn how gender ideology has impacted women’s creative expression and its visibility in society.
Our focus is on Renaissance women in Week 1, but we look at how contemporary women are still resisting ideas about women that began as early as the Renaissance period. The Renaissance “ideal lady” was an idealized woman who was defined as virtuous, pious, and modest, and though she may have been encouraged to be artistic, because of persistent ideas about women’s gender her creativity was deemed important only to charm and entertain men in the court, or was relegated to remain in a convent or the home. As we have seen, these ideas about women (ideology) restricted her creativity and visibility. Significantly, the visibility of women’s creative production is still an issue partly because of gender ideology centuries old.
For this week’s journal, discuss in three to four pages how gender ideology impacts women’s creative expression. Illustrate your discussion with examples of creative women from the Renaissance period. Your examples should come from our required or recommended resources and represent at least two different genres (for example, poetry, painting, sculpture). Explain how ideas about women’s nature and role impacted women’s work. Finally, after viewing the multimedia, conclude with a reflection on how the contemporary activism of the Guerilla Girls addresses the similar issues in today’s art world.To help you explore this journal, consider some of the following questions:
- What role does she play in her life (courtesan, wife, mother, nun, aristocrat, etc.)?
- How does that role support or discourage her creative expression and her visibility?
- Does she resist or comply with the expected norms of her gender?
- How do artistic women create within defined roles and images of women?