Tag Archives: Patriarchy

Things That Make You Go…What?

So I’m reading “The World in 2009” special annual edition published by The Economist. Lots of thought-provoking stuff about what might come in the wake of the various issues and conflicts in the world today.

But the really fun stuff is the ads. Where else could you learn about the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority or the web site investinmacedonia.com?

OK, I can hear you thinking, “Anthromama, you think that stuff is fun?”

Well, maybe not so much fun as where the heck else are you going to see ads for Cargill, Airbus, Hermès, Credit Suisse, and Qatar Airways all in one place?

Anyhoo, the reason I am bring all this up is because of one particular ad.

First Republic Bank’s ad on page 38 depicts a married couple and includes their testimonial about the bank’s service. Below this are their names and occupations. The man is a “telecom executive” while the woman is an “attorney at law, wife and mother”.

Hmmmm. How come he’s not a “telecom executive, husband and father”? I wonder if she chose that description of herself?

So I checked out the bank’s web site, and sure enough, there is a frame showing a slideshow of testimonials including this one. Lots of single men and women, as well as couples and families. Lots and lots of CEOs, CFOs, doctors, and entrepreneurs. Only one other person that I saw was identified as “wife, grandmother, and community volunteer” and not one man identified himself as anything but his job title.

I’m really curious about this — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi consistently framed herself as a mother and grandmother during the 2006 elections and was criticized for it. Is it a yoke of patriarchy to identify women based on their reproductive histories, or is it a sign of true freedom that women can embrace and promote all of their capacities?


Filed under Rants

Who Does She Think She Is?

Heidi over at there is grace recently posted about this wonderful documentary about the struggles women have in modern society in balancing their need for artistic creativity and the demands of motherhood.

I haven’t seen the film yet, but something in the trailer caught my attention: people on the street were asked if they could name five female artists. They couldn’t even name one!

At first I was self-righteously disgusted. These were people on the steps of the Met Museum in New York, for heaven’s sake, and they couldn’t even name ONE woman artist? I could name a dozen right off the top of my head, right?

Hmmm. . . .


This one is easy for me:

Ursula K. LeGuin
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Edith Wharton
Christine de Pisan
Jane Austen

Susanna Clarke
Judy Grahn
Mary Balogh
Christina Rossetti

Margaret Atwood
Mary Stewart
A.S. Byatt

J.K. Rowling
Zadie Smith
Jane Yolen
(and I could go on.)

Visual artists

Hmm . . . getting a little harder:

Frida Kahlo
Liane Collot d’Herbois
Tove Jansson

Mary Cassatt
Diane Arbus
Annie Leibovitz

Georgia O’Keefe
Elsa Beskow
(I had to reach into anthroposophy land to find two of them!)

Now, I’m not going to do actresses, as that’s too easy, as is musicians/singers. And of course there are quite a few writers and artists in my own blogroll! But it was interesting to realize that while I can name many female writers, it wasn’t that easy to name more than five visual artists.

As I mentioned to Heidi, I don’t know if that’s a reflection of poor arts education or the patriarchy of the art world. Even if artistic work is easier for women without children (if only because they have more time!), why aren’t more women prominent in the visual arts? Why can I think of fifteen male visual artists in a few seconds and struggle to think of that many women?

Patriarchy certainly plays in there — notice all of the female artists I thought of date from the late nineteenth century at the earliest, but I can think of male artists dating back to the early middle ages. On the other hand, apparently writing has been an “acceptable” female activity for much longer. I wonder why that is?

Try it — how many can you name?

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Filed under art, Blogging, movies, Rants, Writing