How are Sexuality and Feminism related?

Several female artists are involved in rendering sexuality by themselves or by other’s explanations, which means some of them could not agree with other’s interpretations about sexuality. For example, even though Georgia O’Keeffe is thought to be the one who depicts a woman’s vagina in metaphoric form, she refused Freudian reading of her flower paintings from very early on. On the other hand, Louise Bourgeois said, “There has always been sexual suggestiveness in my work.” she was interested in making androgynous forms by using bronze and hanging materials. In the case of Cecily Brown, she freely painted subjects not often dealt by male painters, including sex and love.


Before we see how these artists get involved in the depiction of sexuality, we have to point out two questions; why sexuality has been regarded as a prominent theme of female artists and why some female artists have been working with sexuality as a subject. The reason for these question links to the reason why Feminism treats women’s sexuality significantly. Historically, women’s sexuality has always been restricted, so, there have been different ways to judge men’s and women’s sexuality. Therefore, exposing women’s erotic and sexual behaviour has been under taboo. When it comes to theory, feminist has been opposed to biological determinism because it posits that sexuality belongs to human’s instinct and the genital difference between both sexes determine how a person behaves and thinks. On the other hand, social constructionism can be against biological determinism, which means this theory construes sexuality as something that is constructed social-culturally. According to this, women can add other new meanings in it and negotiate with previous perceptions of sexuality. By opposing biological determinism and being favorable to social constructionism, feminist has begun to perceive sexuality and femininity as something that can be changed by themselves, not by males.


Therefore, since the late 1960s, women artists have emerged the feminist art movement, obtained and reconstructed Femininity and sexuality by choosing a feminine subject and making art about this. This could be the reasons why a female artist gets involved in sexuality regardless of media. However, it does not mean all women artists who deal with sexuality are feminists. It would be a bit difficult to say, Louise Bourgeois, Cecily Brown, and Georgia O'Keeffe are radical feminist artists, but their contribution to the broader scale of female art is admirable.



# "Why Have There BeenNo Great Women Artists?" is a 1971 essay by American art historian Linda Nochlin. It is considered a pioneering essay for both feminist art history and feminist art theory.


#Judy Chicago - Dinner Party (1974-79)


The Dinner Party, an important icon of 1970s feminist art and a milestone in twentieth-century art, is presented as the centerpiece around which the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is organized. The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with raised central motifs that are based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. This permanent installation is enhanced by rotating Herstory Gallery exhibitions relating to the 1,038 women honored at the table. ( Brooklyn Museum )