Monday 2 June 2014

I have an appointment today with Chloe Kroeter, a curatorial fellow at Watts Gallery, to talk about the Spectacle of Women by Lisa Tickner and the imagery of suffrage.

I knew from our last conversation that Chloe was on the same track as me, and looking at the historic resources from an artistic point of view with another like-minded person is what I had been craving.

We got straight to the point and she talked about studying the anti-suffrage campaign for clues to what was being fought for. We looked at the images of force-feeding, the funnel as a signifier for literally stopping women from being able to speak. These images never cease to upset me. This is oral rape and the images must have terrified women at that time.

Image of force-feeding

Grace Before Meat leaflet thrown from the House of Commons Strangers’ Gallery, 11 June 1913. Parliamentary Archives, HC/SA/SJ/10/12/46

She asked me to think about how I saw the notion of femininity. I reflected on the choices I had made in my life, about who I had chosen to be and how I defined my womanhood. My process began when I became a single mother working as a long- haul air stewardess. I was being pulled in several directions and made a choice to give up work, be with my son and start all over; to do what I believed in, rather than what I believed I should do.

I began to understand that in the core of me was my sense that who I decided to be was my choice, not a dictate from society. I felt empowered and very fortunate. Who I am is made by me. I am 100% feminine.

Come back on Tuesday 13 September 2016, when Mary continues her research using resources on the Parliament website…