Blogging about a blog in a blog…

Blog. Blog. Blog.

Everyone has one anymore, and if you don’t, your college professors are sure to make you get one. Last semester, I was asked to make a blog on Google for a Rhetorical Criticism course. Embarrassingly, as a 21-year old student living in America and who has been privileged by technology my whole life, I still knew nothing about blogs.  I went through the whole semester writing full blown scholarly papers on my blog, because that’s what I knew how to do.  I had references sourced at the bottom and I re-read my posts many times before publishing them to fix my grammar and sentence structure. Then the semester ended and I haven’t logged into my blog since then.

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This year roles around, and again I am asked to use a blog, on a new website too. I literally felt the tension build in the back of my neck as I thought of having to do this all again. Learn how to navigate a new website and set up an account.  Get a theme picked and follow my classmates. Then time to write. When I began my blog, I carried over my style of last year. And then I got bored. I was bored by topics that felt inspiring to me, and that felt wrong.

So I stopped making 2 outlines before typing up a blog.  I started to just type.  I still went back to add ideas and revise my wording, but it was less of a hassle this way. I learned how to read something and how to use my words to write about it.  I was able to step back and add photos to my thoughts and to make it relatable to an everyday audience.  Outside of my campus, people do not force themselves to critically think every day… in fact some may argue that not all people on campus do that either. This blog gave me the opportunity to learn how to not simplify my thoughts, but make them presentable to the general public. Not that I am the next Sir. Isaac Newton or Einstein, but you get the point.

Besides learning how to use my voice through writing and connecting with audiences, I also learned how to appropriately be a feminist through this independent study.  Now I never was someone who assumed all feminist burn their bras and braid their leg hairs together, but I definitely had an skewed concept of what it meant to be a feminist. Thanks society.

I learned that being a feminist meant supporting equal rights for everyone. It means encouraging people to think about stereotypes and accusations that humans make without thinking twice.  Being a feminist means to accept people for who they are.  It made me have an analytical view over society. And it taught me how to be mad. Through my studies, I have become frustrated with society. I see the injustice that is subtle as well as obvious.  But I also have become helpful to society because I choose to shine light on the injustices and for the capabilities to do this I must thank my professor, Colleen Clemens, for giving me the space to learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Gathering of Thinkers ( LVAIC Conference )

April 9th, 2016- The day a snow storm was supposed to hit.

Yes, in April.

I had woken up early to prepare myself for the day.

I did some yoga and took a shower.

I ate a good breakfast and practiced my presentation.

There still was no snow.

But a 89% chance of snow accumulating to 3-5 inches.

It was also the day of a Women and Gender Studies Conference, hosted by LVAIC.

And I was presenting.

My performance was based on The Power of Female Voice and Storytelling.  I have been doing research on exactly this topic, since January.  I was excited to talk about specific examples of women using their voice to empower others and the harm that comes from putting each other down.  I was excited to tell a room full of eager listeners that it was ok for them to use their voice.

I get to the conference.  I am greeted by a table of volunteers, all able to answers my questions and to provide me with a name tag.

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As speakers began to present, I felt an instant excitement over the event.  We had gathered a group of scholars, parents, friends, and intellects to discuss global issues.  We spoke about how to get involved and how to be aware.  We discussed politics and vaginas and saw performances.  It was certainly a day to remember.

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The Keynote Speaker, Marlana Eck, was a delight to listen to. After a warm introduction by Colleen Clemens, the conference coordinator and a professor at Kutztown University, she was at ease with herself and the audience while presenting. She told us of difference programs to get involved with and that she was currently involved with. Hearing these outlets for personal desires to help the world around us was uplifting.  Not all of the speakers provided the resources for audience members to take part in changing society so hearing Marlana provide a few was great.  It really unified the group to be able to work on tangible goals and events.

At the end of the day, there was one performance that continuously ran through my mind.  This was the dance performance that was done before we ate.  This piece was choreographed by Julissa Dejesus and performed by William Brazdzionis.  The imagery within the dance was beautiful.  I felt as if the dancer was representing a person going through society trying to always hit the “moving target” ascribed to us.  He stripped down a layer of sweat pants and exposed a dress he was wearing.  His movements became more frantic at times and repetitive, becoming more frantic the second time through.  The dancer then removes the dress and is wearing shorts and a muscle tee.  The video on the screen behind him goes to a unique perspective.  It is a board with a spectrum drawn on it, but shot from the view point of the board.  There are two people discussing the scale and its portions while the dancer traces his hand along it walking back and fourth.  To me this showed him trying to place himself on the scale that society has given him in regards to gender.

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The LVAIC conference is one I plan on attending in the future, and would encourage others to attend as well.  The experience was enlightening, and honoring to be apart of.  I brought my boyfriend and parents with me, eager to expose them to conversations they do not hear everyday.  Unless you are a feminist, or a student concerned about gender-based issues  or an engaged member of society of women’s rights, you probably do not regularly have these conversations, and its important to begin to. The more we talk about these issues, the more we can eliminate the issues tied up within them. So to all, I encourage you to speak up.

And yes, it did snow.

 

 

Using our Voice

Too many women suppress their voice.  Too many women hold their true feelings inside.  Too many women are told to shut up and too many women listen. This is a dangerous spiral, as it leaves millions speechless.  There is a book called I Speak for Myself edited by Maria M.  Ebrahimji and Zahra T. Suratwala that is an outlet for American women who are Muslim to share their stories.  This book is educational as well as inspiring.  I would recommend it for everyone to read because it allows you to see the world through the eyes of another individual and through another culture’s perspective.

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More people around the world need spaces to talk. Imagine if each women who shared her story in this book, had the opportunity to sit down with each other.  They would have the potential to build a lasting friendship, also known as a place to talk.  These opportunities to let your voice and story be heard is what can begin to change the thought process of those around you.  Having support to build confidence in your decisions will allow for more opportunities to share your voice.

Just the other day, I was discussing a health issue with someone.  They began to share their story with me, and the overlaying messge the I took away was that humans need to share our experiences.  We need to share them for ourselves with people who have also experienced it and we need to share them for eachother for people who have not experienced them.  This raises awareness on ALL issues and creates a general discussion.  If we change the way we talk about things, we eventually change the way we do things and this can change the world.

All we need to do is keep the conversation going.

 

Women’s Voice against Female Voice

We live in a society that loves to attack.

We attack each other,

We attack the planet,

We attack  ourselves.

With so much competition going on around us, it can be hard to just relax and put all else aside. So why do women continue to make it even harder on each other?  Each and every person is aware of the pressures from the world around us and if we begin to talk about them , we can start to eliminate them.

Just the other day, I was sitting in a coffee shop enjoying some tea when a group of older women sat down next to me.  A little while later, I overheard one of the women mentioning how she would NEVER vote for a women for president.  Never once did she mention the current female candidate Hilary Clinton.  She only spoke about how females are so genetically different from males, and about how we could not handle the stress of the position.

Sitting there, writing for a Women and Gender Studies class I am taking, I felt horrified by the statement.  It seemed like a foreign thought process that did not really exist in the world around me.  Yet here it was, next to me at a coffee shop.

Here was a female, using her voice, to put down another female.  We have proven things through science now about biology and gender that should be able to disapprove those kinds of thoughts.  We do not need them in society.  They limit the success that people can have.  Some call this the Pygmalion Effect . The idea that we will only reach the standards that others believe we will.  If as females, we have high expectations for each other and support each other to achieve them, we can break down any Glass Ceiling and make it through any labyrinth.

This isn’t the only way girls like to bash each other.  We get scrutinized over photos and social media posts, and whisper about each other as we walk by.  Little girls get bullied over mundane issues and left out of groups. Celebrities are bashed over their personal posts. High school students aren’t invited to parties and judged because of a bad hair day.  There are  beauty contests at the gym and people worry about their make-up just to grab the newspaper in the morning. Television shows criticize a Miss America contestant for nursing monologue.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

No more use of the voice against female voice. Let us embrace each other for being ourselves and lets create a society that we WANT to live in.  Group together to provide support for those who are being critiqued and receiving the same assistance back.  Stand up for the movements you believe in and work together with like minded individuals.  Know that you are affected by the people and culture artifacts that you surround yourself with, so pick them carefully.

And if you find yourself needing a little inspiration, check out Climbing PoeTree.  There spoken word poems will make you more motivated than ever to want to make a difference.  My personal favorite is Awakening.

 

Storytelling Through Body Movements

Storytelling is more than just words.  It is about the passion behind the story, the storyteller, and their body.  Stories can be told through movements of the body as simple as hand movements and as complex as dances.  Social media has provided the opportunity for millions to express themselves to the rest of the world through body language and storytelling.  As I began to explore this concept, one video in particular stuck out to me.

Watch the Video Here.

This story is told by a women named Jody Steel.  She is using her body, and the power of that story, to share a message.  Her voice is the artwork and through media, it can be heard by thousands. As of today, this video has 91,898,281 views.  Through use of her body, Steel tells a story of body image and its moving target of ideals for all people.

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It seems that if a person uses their body to please others, whether in television, modeling, Hollywood, or high school, they can never please their audiences. I saw that Jody commented on the video saying:

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 This moving target becomes an obsession for some, and that story can become a dangerous one. Jody was able to take those feelings and to tell her story, through her own form of art and the use of her body. When topics such as this are able to be talked about, and expressed, it becomes an outlet for some.  For others, it becomes a medium of learning.  If stories are not shared, it is difficult for those who have not  experienced them, to understand them.

As I began to write this post, I managed to get distracted and found myself on Facebook.  Within 5 minutes, I found multiple videos and photos that used art as a way for a female to share her voice, and her view points.  One that stuck out the most to me is about a young women who was raped.  After watching the film, The Hunting Ground, rape culture and how society treats rape victims has been on the forefront of my mind, so this piece caught my eye.

Check out the article I found.

Karmenife Paulino is the student in the post.  The article says that she was having difficulties recovering after being raped at a fraternity, so in response, she took dominatrix photos in front of her campus fraternity houses. These photos are a powerful representation of Paulino’s attitudes about her rape and the culture surrounding it. Rape culture is more than the rape itself, it is the attitudes around it and the people encouraging it.  Rape culture is how universities help the victims of rape, and bring justice to the rapists or how they focus on their reputations instead of the well-being of students.  Rape culture is how a collection of people work together to prevent rape, and teach their children how to respect the bodies, and minds, of others.

The photos, taken by Tess Altman, are speaking to viewers.  Every person who sees it, may take away something different, but they each take away something. That is the power of storytelling.  The teller can send a message to the audience, but it up to them, and their personal life experiences to interpret that story.  Tess Altman and Karmenife Paulino, used their voice, through photography, to tell a story.  A story that reflects the dominant society of fraternities and the victimizing of females who hang out with them.  Karmenife is the dominant one in the photo, and the males are victimized.  They are wearing shirts that say “Frat Filth”, as an icing on the cake to show how little they are to the dominator.  This is an interpretation of the frat house experience that many face while at college.

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The photos are a way of exposing the rape culture that is exposed in fraternities and on college campuses.  The story being told is a real one, and far too commonly told. Media is a way for these stories, and many others to be shared, providing on opportunity for them to be heard and to make a difference in our world. Humans need to continue to share stories, because it is a way to define the occurrences around us.  It  allows us to make progress as a society.

 

Can A Princesses stand on her own two feet?

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You bet they can!  And feminist fairytales are doing their best to make sure the public knows it, and I want to take a look at one of these stories.  In the book Don’t Bet on the Prince by Zack Zipes, there is a story called The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet by Jeanne Desy. It is everything I would expect from a feminist fairytale and more.  This story holds the same morals as most feminists, and those who favor equality.  It also uses a strong image of hyper masculinity for the Prince in the story to show traditional gender roles.

In a gist, The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet is about a young Princess who is a quick learner, leaving the audience to perceive her as intelligent and powerful, since she is a princess.  The only thing this young girl cannot learn, that she desires, is love. Many fairytales use love as a driving factor for particular actions, and this story is no different.  Her wizard givers her a dog, an animal never before seen in their kingdom, and they become the best of friends. The Princess is set to marry a young Prince because of a new alliance between their kingdoms however the Prince is mortified by her height. Since she is taller, the Prince feels emasculated, as explained by her talking dog, who cannot seem to fully justify his reactions. (Rightly so.)

Already, this story is different from how other fairytales describe the princess of their story.  Usually a Princess is the damsel in distress and she will need a Prince to save her from something or someone.  They are not always learning and being taught by the best masters in the kingdoms, and they certainly are not the tallest in their families.  In this story, although the Princess is searching for love, and makes some questionable decisions in her quest for love, she still gets past all of it in the end.

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The Prince in this fairytale is very demanding.  He meets a lot of standards for a “real man”.  He wanted to be taller than his wife because, who really knows why.  The dog even realizes this as he explains to the Princess that the Prince left because of her height.  When she does not understand the logic behind this, the dog searches for an explanation for her and quickly realizes that even he cannot provide one, because it is not justifiable.

The Prince then “felt like leaving again” when they were riding and the Princess fell off her horse.   The Princess, being a quick learner, knew how to ride the horse well, and even how to hurdle on her horse.  The only reason she fell, was that the Prince had demanded she ride sidesaddle, as a proper lady should. Upon taking the hurdle, she lost balance and fell off.  When she stood to get back on the horse was when the Prince wanted to leave.  He was reminded of her height and unsettled by it. Realizing this immediately, she fell down to the ground and complained of not being able to walk anymore.  The Prince lifted her back up and was pleased that his bride-to-be could not walk, making her no longer taller than he.  Although it does not help empower the image of the female spirit, it does show how powerful her actions were in regards to their relationship, and their kingdoms.

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Soon after, the Prince tells her “Haven’t you heard that women should be seen and not heard”.  Hearing this made me cringe.  Just reading the words, and seeing the scene in my mind made me feel riddled with disappointment.  For a moment I thought, “No female would ever write this” and “this must be a misprint”.  As I reread the line over and over again, I realized that is exactly how Jeanne wanted me to feel. If I had not been so upset about the Prince saying this, then I would need to reevaluate my morals. The Princesses being told this, later learns so much from his wrong doing, and she is not unlike other females.  Strong women hear degrading remarks like this all the time, and by reading it, and forcing readers to reflect on it, opens our eyes to the problems in our everyday lives.  Since the Princess is sitting down all day to please one aspect of the Prince’s disappointment, her height, she practiced witty remarks which displeased the Prince even more.

The last request that the Prince makes for the Princess is for her to get rid of the dog.  He wants rid of it so much that when the dog was out of sight for a day, he told the Princess that he believed he was allergic to the dog because he was not as jolly when around it. This, as we know, is foolish and impractical.  After saying this, the Prince thumps his chest as a sign of manliness and authority.

In the next paragraphs in the story, Jeanne says that the Prince “tried feeling hurt” as if he could not just feel emotions naturally.  This reflects how men are socialized to hide emotions. In America, boys are taught from a young age to hide the way they feel, to not show pain and to be strong.  The Prince is the spitting image of this, and this line was the icing on the cake.  When she says that he “tried feeling hurt” it shows how not only did he not know how to feel, but he did not understand what he was feeling.  This is a problem.  Emotions are a fundamental part of human nature.  It is beneficial to  understand the way we feel and to be able to communicate these feelings to others.  The Prince’s reaction seems to pave the road for the Princess to understand what is really going on in her relationship.

The end of this story was beautiful.  I loved the way that the story all came together at the end and connected pieces of the story that I did not even pick up as connecting.  I re-read the fairytale immediately after finishing it, out loud this time, to get a deeper grasp of the story. The dog being the true love of the Princess reminded me of the theme of The Princess and the Frog.  In both stories, an animal (or reptile) is changed at some point in the story to be in the body of a human due to a love between themselves and a princess.  This feminist version of the tale revolves more around rebirth and sacrifice for a loved one rather than a women needing the man to get by.  There is a deeper and more honest and equal meaning behind this version of the story and it is so apparent, right down to the name.

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This fairytale is called The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet because the Princess stops putting on an act to stand up for her beliefs.  She literally stands on her own two feet, she also figuratively does.  When she chooses to go and bury the dog and plant white roses on his grave, she is following her true love and her natural instincts.  The Princess is choosing to go against the alliance and what her parents expect from her, in order to be true to herself and her life and her morals.

The story really brings out the power of the feminine voice.  It was told by a female, and holds the opinions of a female, allowing those thoughts to go out to the world. By having a Princess stand up for herself, and defeating her own battles, it is empowering for women and girls to read/hear.  Part of the beauty of fairytales is that they are in nature, oral stories.  They get passed down verbally from person to person with passion in the voice.  Occasionally, these stories get read as well.  Oral stories are being written down more frequently than ever before because of the power of technology and printing.  This allows for the female voice to be heard more loudly and clearer than ever.  If we make room for these voices to be heard, the space will be filled, and these are the kind of stories we want our children to hear.  They teach a lesson that is valuable for everyone. They can be adapted to fit the time period and the specific values of a family.

 

 

 

 

 

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     The Princess Who Stood on Her Own Two Feet

 

The Tale of the Burnt Bra

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Barbara “mystery solved: we’ve found the smoking 38D”

-Mikkelson

 

Bra-Burning, a phenomena which has been taking place since the beginning of the Women’s Right’s movement, is an event  where women rally on the streets to strip themselves of these shells and to burn them to bits… oh wait I’m sorry, I forgot to mention that this is an Urban Folklore. An Urban Folklore is a type of story that is so believable, it is widely thought to be true.  It is typically told in a way that frames it as being a story that happened to a friend of a friend.  This makes it seem localized and real, when in fact there is little truth behind it.  We often see Urban Folklores being used to teach members of society a moral lesson, or code which to live by. The folklore of bra-burning rallies held by feminists has been framed by media in a negative light, discouraging future rebellions. Feminists are portrayed as un-lady-like extremists.

Teachers and writers alike have been talking about the bra-burnings and the impact it had on the feminist movement since this idea was first published in Ms. (the September issue) by Lindsy Van Gelder.  According to snopes.com, “…contributing editor Lindsy Van Gelder confessed that she herself, as a young reporter for the New York Post, had given the false tale its start. Sent to do a humor piece on the demonstration, she attempted to turn her assignment into a vehicle for showcasing the validity of the movement by linking it to the Vietnam War protests which, unlike the women’s liberation protests, were at least being taken seriously by the press”  (http://www.snopes.com/history/american/burnbra.asp).Gelder tried to change the media’s frame around the act to be beneficial to the movement.  It is possible she was instructed to write a humor piece because of being a female so when she instead tried to write a serious and informative article, it was not looked at with as much respect as she deserved.  At the time, as still today, women were making less then men.  They were also newly in the workplace compared to their male co-workers and were paving the roads for females in the marketplace making it difficult for women to be taken seriously.  Gelder was attempting to change America’s views on feminist through the use of her words in print.

Gelder did not make up her story out of thin air.  Bra-burning was born when women threw their hosiery and undergarments into Freedom Trash Cans at a rally.   Women felt restricted while they worked between pantyhose and girdles, not to mention the lack of female presence in management.  According to bitchmedia.org, there was indeed plans to burn the bras, but the city officials would not permit it. The concept of bra burning is justified in its existence, but not an event that actually occurred.  Maybe women rebelled against the bra for a while, but we have yet to find the picture of a bra on fire.

Human beings are storytelling creatures.  It is in our nature and often we just call it communicating.  Feminists, being humans, used the power of story to make people aware of an issue in the world.  Many people do not know that the burning of the bras never happened so the story is told today, as if the event took place, just like an Urban Folklore.  As the myth snowballed with media and the rise and fall of feminism, bra-burning has become a symbol of feminism, and we never even had to light a match.

 

 

 

 

Resources:

A. (2007, September 27). Red Hot Mamas. Retrieved February 04, 2016, from http://www.snopes.com/history/american/burnbra.asp

Mirk, S. (2014, April 16). Once and For All: No Bras Were Burned in the Making of Feminism | Bitch Media. Retrieved February 04, 2016, from https://bitchmedia.org/post/once-and-for-all-no-bras-were-burned-in-the-making-of-feminism

 

 

Feminist Art

“Because we are denied knowledge of our history, we are deprived of standing upon each other’s shoulders and building upon each other’s hard earned accomplishments. Instead we are condemned to repeat what others have done before us and thus we continually reinvent the wheel.”-Judy Chicago

This quote was the first thing I read when looking at this website on Feminist art.  I read it over and over, letting it’s meaning sink in more.  The quote is saying that we need to  acknowledge the past as means for us to move onto the future.  With that acknowledgment, we are able to build upon the mistakes that have been made and repeat the successful events to continue to grow as a society of humans.

The way Chicago words  the ending, “and thus we continually reinvent the wheel” throws humor into such a serious statement.  One might laugh at the thought of continually reinventing the wheel.  It seems silly to applaud people for “inventing” the same idea over and over again.  In retrospect, it is no longer a new invention, just another wheel.  In the past, humans have fought for the equal rights for Jews, for African Americans, for African Brits, for women and for love without boundaries.  Yet we still experience groups of people being attacked over skin color and religion and sex.  Instead of learning from our past, and saving ourselves time and effort, we continue to repeat the same conversations without getting anywhere.  “The wheel” in this case, is equality.  We keep re-defining and re-shaping what equality is, and who is really included in it instead of knowing what it is and letting it be applied for all.

Theartstory.org is a website that focuses entirely on Feminist pieces of art.  This concept is beautiful because it provides an outlet for people to express themselves.  Although feminist art is not a new concept, it is not a very old one either, having started around the late 1960’s according to theartstory.org.  Art is timeless in the sense that we can always learn from it.  We can take away emotions and we can take away awareness of struggles we know little about.

For feminists, as for many artists, art is a way to tell a story.  Feminists have been fighting for equality amongst humans.   A large portion of the artwork on this website are very dark.  The colors do not seem to extend much past black, grey and white besides maybe a pop of color around a phrase or image.  Words also seem to  be very prominent in feminist art.  Lots of sarcasm is used and bold lettering.

One artist in particular stuck out to me.  She was the first on the list of artists, and to me, the easiest to connect with.  Her name is Marina Abramović.  Marina was a performance artist.  She did paint and use a canvas, but she also believed in minimizing the space between the artist and the audience so she would use herself as the art.  As a performer, this made me connect with the messages Marina shared because I too would send messages in a similar way. Being able to move your body in a way that shares a message or tells a story is empowering for an artist.   Marina said that when she used herself as art it became a spiritual situation.  Often she would get injured because of the danger and risks involved with her art. Incorporating the body into feminist art is so captivating because it makes the situations personal for the artist and the audience.  The artists is not putting on a show, he or she is making a statement and telling a story.  The feminist movement strives largely on the stories of women facing inequality and fighting for their rights in “a man’s world”.

I once read a book called The Scalpel and the Silver Bear by Lori Arviso Alvord and Elizabeth Cohen Van Pelt.  In this book, Lori Arviso writes about how in a traditional Navajo society, women are respected more highly than men.  When she entered “the white world”, she felt more prepared to succeed in “a mans world” than those raised outside of Navajo belief systems.  While looking at the different artists labeled as feminist artists, I thought of Lori Arviso.  She was a Navajo child who went to Dartmouth for University and became a women surgeon.  In my eyes, she too is a feminist artist.  Her canvas is the body of a patient and her paint brush is her hands.  She rose to the top, when people did not think she could, and made her mark on the world.  She left her art for all to see and a message about her strength as a women and as a surgeon.

Through all forms of art, messages are being spread about movements and ideas that need to be heard.  The feminist movement uses art in all different techniques to spread awareness of inequality and encourage equality.  I am proud to live in a world where people are able to share creativity and ideas (mostly) freely and look forward at diving deeper into feminism and the narratives of women encouraging equality.

 

Website Link