I went to the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition at the Tate. The other people there were much the same demographic as me and my mother: middle aged women. I don’t know if Georgia O’Keefe appeals to women because she is one, or there were no men there because she is a “woman’s painter”. She herself rejected this: when a critic called her the best woman painter of her generation, she corrected him by saying that she was the best painter, full stop. She also denied that her flower pictures were vaginic (sometimes an orchid is just an orchid). I thought about male architects designing thrusting towerblocks.
O’Keefe herself didn’t hold with “women’s lib”, believing you should just go out and do it and not care what people think of you. But women’s lib/feminism is/was about creating a level playing field so that you’re judged on what you do and not what genitals you possess, rather than the odd individual succeeding and being the exception that proves the rule.
In the old days, men said that women couldn’t do things other than wife- and motherhood because their biology didn’t suit them to it. Nowadays, men say that women can’t do things because we’re multi-taskers, we're not single mided enough, we are more interested in hearth and home than career success. Its never the fault of this culture that we live in that rewards women solely for a) looking pretty b) having babies. When women do succeed, they are ignored or painted out of the picture - Rosalind Franklin, Helen Sharman, Sarah Guppy, Virginia Wade. Who now knows the name of Ethel Lina White? Last week commentator John Inverdale told Andy Murray that he was the first tennis player to win two golds at the Olympics. Andy replied, citing Venus and Serena, both of whom have won more golds than he has.
Witness the nonsense over Ghostbusters. It may have been some basement-dwelling mouth-breathing man-babies who were upset by women being cast in "male" roles, but it filtered down - my colleague’s teenage son said he wasn’t going to see it because the main characters were female. The fact that in 2016 this is still a thing, that women STILL have to prove themselves is just depressing. I liked last year's Star Wars film, but mainly because the two protags were a black man (not a sidekick) and a woman who could take care of herself and didn’t need rescuing or end up in a bikini as the implied sex-slave to a rubber monster thing. It shouldn’t be that I like a film just because the casting isn’t skewed to the white male demographic. Ms JK Rowling is a feminist, slapping down male trolls, but she (in)famously made her hero a boy and deliberately obscured her gender with initials in order to make the Potter series successful, to shift units. But to make a boy the centre of something whilst girls are the helpers because real life boys allegedly won’t read books about heroines does nothing to change the status quo. I’d love to see a reboot of the Famous Five where George is in charge. Or Scooby Do with Velma as the leader. The Smurfs or Wombles with six female Smurfs/Wombles and one male one. Winifred the Pooh. I could go on. And on. And on.I liked the O'Keefe's landscapes better anyway.