The Strength Within, From Sheros Series, 2014, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40″
I am a feminist.
You have no idea how long that has taken me to admit. I have always been accused of being ONE, but have aggressively defended myself and explained the reasons why I’m not. I believe that women are amazing and strong and regularly underestimated (usually by themselves) and capable of so much, but I’m not a feminist. I had no problem with my father “giving me away” at my wedding, I am not offended by mail that is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Eric Johns and I love to let men carry my luggage or loosen jars. Growing up in the 70s and 80s the picture I had of a feminist was a crazy butch woman with no makeup who HATED men. They didn’t want everyone to know that woman were equal to men, they believed woman were better than men, in every way imaginable, and a world without men all together would be paradise. I don’t believe that. Although I can be regularly over heard saying “Are you kidding me, I don’t need a man to….fill in the blank”, I love the men in my life. I know that woman can be lifted by and made better by wonderful men and that while it would be possible to survive without them (assuming we found another way to procreate), it is not a world I would want to live in. I have taught me sons to treat women with respect, open the doors, lift heavy things, kill spiders, and take care of the women in their lives. I have taught my daughters (too well perhaps) that it’s great to have a man around to take out the trash, shovel the walks and operate power tools….but they don’t NEED a man to do these things. You need to learn how to take care of yourself so that you are not completely helpless and pathetic on your own. So guess what, I’m a feminist…. a raging feminist it turns out, and proud of it.
“Rosie”, as she is usually referred to, was a huge iconic symbol for the feminist movement of the 80s and therefore had a negative connotation in my mind. Now that I have embraced my title as a feminist I have re-examined my opinion of Rosie…and I think she’s awesome! In this painting I have tried to show both sides of an amazing woman like myself. The face has been painted with smooth transitions using a soft brush while the background has been rendered with aggressive strokes using a palette knife. I am both a soft, loving, compassionate woman and the SAME TIME that I can take on anything in my path and demolish it! She is emerging from and fading into the background to represent that she is hidden or held “within”. We as women do not always realize our own strength but dig deep enough and I would bet you could find this woman inside all of us. So even though I have titled this piece The Strength Within, it could just as easily retain it’s original title WE CAN DO IT!
Hidden Strength, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 36″ x 48”