When artist Judy Chicago posted the juxtaposition below on Instagram following the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, it struck a chord.
Chicago’s PowerPlay series was first exhibited in 1986 with paintings, drawings, and reliefs of white male anger.
Chicago, 79, is now the leader of a newly visible, angry feminist resistance and told Artsy,
“Over the course of the five years I spent on ‘PowerPlay,’ I began to look behind the surfaces of male behavior, at the multiple sources of their often gross and destructive actions. What I found was that the prohibitions around openly expressing feelings—particularly of vulnerability as expressed in tears—caused innumerable personality distortions. Add to this the expectations to succeed, to ‘act manly,’ to provide for others through money-making, et cetera—which often led to a level of pressure that is unhealthy. That said, too many men go along with these expectations rather than challenge them, probably because of the rewards they are offered.”
Sexual assault is one of the most visible manifestations of toxic masculinity which is, of course, a function of patriarchy and how men are socialized. Another positive discussion that is emerging from the hearings and the #MeToo movement is that it is not enough that feminism has allowed women to break out of the confines of the construct of femininity. Men have to be helped to revolt against the dehumanizing aspects of the construct of masculinity; to face that too many of them have become monstrous and that their monstrosity is threatening life on earth. Men have to change and women have to insist that this happen. It is not enough to lose one’s job; men have to wake up and work to regain their humanity which will result in their becoming unable to rape and pillage anyone or anything.
My work has never been about the moment; as an artist I have tried to deal with deep truths. Three decades has not done away with patriarchy. Efforts to emerge from its huge shadow and overthrow it as a system have been going on for centuries and it will take many more centuries to accomplish this task everywhere in the world. My only fear is that the world will not survive long enough to accomplish it. But I choose hope over despair.”
Sadly, what’s old is new again. And it will be 3 decades or more we’ll be seeing that face and reading his rulings, most likely against you and me.