The Guerrilla Girls are a collective that’s been going strong since 1985, dedicated to using art to expose prevailing sexist and racial discrimination in the artworld. Among their many approaches to “reinventing the ‘f’ word” (not necessarily the f-word you’re thinking of!) has been to don their gorilla masks (to keep the media focused on their message, not their looks) and give themselves the names of famous dead female artist identities (to keep their memories alive–and protect themselves from any negative backlash from artworld bigwigs). Now, thirty years later, their passion remains on fire; despite acknowledged progress, they still burn for greater equity. If their work sparks your inner art-ivist, click for your own free Guerrilla Girls starter kit found here—and you can visit their artwork and books at their table in the New York Art Book Fair.
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief
“Whatever life a woman leads, from biker chick to society girl, there’s a stereotype she’ll have to live down, or live up to. What have you been called? Daddy’s Girl? Bull Dyke? Dumb Blonde? Feminazi? Are female stereotypes based on universal truths? Are they overactive fantasies piled on top of one another? Why does our culture produce so many categories for women? (We dare you to come up with half as many for men.) The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines ‘stereotype’ as a simplified conception or idea that gets invested with special meaning by a certain group of people. An archetype is slightly different: It’s a model or an ideal from which duplicates are made. Think of it this way: A stereotype is a box, usually too small, that a girl gets jammed into. An archetype is a pedestal, usually too high, that she gets lifted up onto. Some archetypes can be stereotypes, like a Mother Teresa or even a Bombshell. But there are lots of stereotypes that would never be considered archetypes: Trophy Wife, Bitch, Gold Digger, etc. Stereotype or archetype, it’s rarely a girl’s own choice: It’s a label someone else gives you…
“When we got to thinking about religious and ethnic stereotypes, we found them all so exaggerated and ridiculous we realized one way to disarm them would be to toy with them a bit. So the Guerrilla Girls are proud to present a new line of playthings…to have, to hold, and to let go of, faithfully handcrafted in the good old U.S. of A. We guarantee that at least one of these dolls will make you feel superior, no matter what your ethnic group.”
See more of The Guerrilla Girls’ Featured Creative posts on our Ideablog
~~~The Guerrilla Girls are feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman. Over 50 women have been members over the years, some for weeks, some for decades. They use facts, humor and outrageous visuals to expose discrimination and corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. They undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair. Over the past 30 years they have reinvented the f-word ‘feminism’ in more than a hundred posters, street projects, actions, books, and billboards. They’ve unveiled anti-film industry billboards in Hollywood just in time for the Oscars, dissed the Museum of Modern Art in New York at its own Feminist Futures Symposium, and created large scale projects …They are authors of street projects, stickers, billboards, posters, and several books including The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art; Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Guide to Female Stereotypes; The Guerrilla Girls’ Art Museum Activity Book; and The Guerrilla Girls’ Hysterical Herstory of Hysteria and How it Was Cured, from Ancient times Until Now…