My student, Shuwen Song, writes in her journal:
I just remember when I was in college, there was a class we discussed about the feminist art work. My professor mention that:” There are a lot of thing we never pay attention to but them still exist. As the difference between man and women. For example, if a man want buy a pen, he will ride his bike along to the nearest shopping mall. Then as quickly as he can to finish his work and come back. The whole process can not over run 30 minutes. If you talked about women, it may be totally different. At first, women always want to take her friends ( at least one) to come with her. On their way, they may find something interesting, like a cat. Ok, after teased the cat, they just enter the mall. Then they look around every conner, and buy some stuff which never be necessary. Finally, they spend all their money then decide to go back. Now they just remember the purpose of their trip: a pen. The whole process is more than 2 hours. You see, that’s difference. Man is straight, but women is vacillating.”
Well, I just love this.
6 thoughts on “Shuwen Song on feminist art”
God damn, I hope I vacillate. I hope this is not an exclusively female trait.
It's all true: I was on my way somewhere else, to read the news or order a muffler, and I landed here. This part, I love. Fuck the straight and narrow – it's the road to a hell I'm learning to 'vacillate' from.
I have to admit that I don't entirely buy this as a distinction between men and women. I feel like the more frequent difference may be in the objects around which different people putter, or vacillate, etc. For me, as just one for instance, I tend to buy clothes quickly and functionally because clothes aren't really one of my hobbies. But I can wander around record/CD stores for hours, chatting with my male friends, going to the listening station, trying this, trying that, bringing home piles of things that I had not set out specifically to purchase. Certainly there are often gender implications in the objects we choose for our hobbies, but I think most people have at least something which they approach with more playful, less function-oriented energy. I bet I can wander around a record store long after you might become desperate to go on to the next thing.
Right, Mark, the writer is “guilty of essentialism,” etc., and there are loads of exceptions. But I still love the quote, because usually my students don't take up the matter of what feminist art is and I thought there was a remarkable synchronicity there with what I have been discussing.
I seem to remember a male blogger, a while ago, posting something with a title along the lines of “Are men allowed to write posts like this?” (i.e. posts that skip from topic to topic). Surely you remember! 🙂
Absolutely it's true that men don't tend to perceive themselves as behaving that way, and often look down on other people when they behave that way (i.e. “Why does she take so long to get dressed?”)–and much of the history of philosophy and art involves men denying that they ever do anything of the kind. So I agree very much that the issue is relevant to a discussion of gender and art. Men do often prohibit themselves from writing in a way that moves from topic to topic, which was exactly why I wrote that blog post.
I just think it's sort of funny that men rarely notice how much of this sort of thing they actually do; hanging around all afternoon in long, meandering conversations about their music collections or wine cellars or vintage model cars or favorite sports teams.
Cf. Kate Perry, Hot n Cold:
“You change your mind like a girl changes clothes, yeah you PMS like a bitch, I would know…”