where my girls at? the lack of (queer) female artists

Rosana was one of five (one of whom was not listed in the brochure) female artists on the line-up at Homotopia. I was painfully aware of this when we went to the DIVA talk on queer female sex and desire. Perhaps that is why 50 odd women in a room discussing all manor of things from the powers of the clitoris to butch & femme felt radical. The four speakers, (Campbell X, Paris Lees, Caroline Walters, Dr. Meg Barker) were amazing in the variation between their talks. cliteracy

 Cliteracy by Sophie Wallce, referenced in the DIVA talk, click here to find out more

I was also painfully aware of this as I watched Holestar, soldier (or ‘state-sponsored murderer’ as Hoyle proclaimed) turned performance artist. She was brought on as a guest, part of David Hoyle’s show. I was frustrated as I watched her sing songs, seemingly aimed at the gay men in the audience, about the importance of intimacy in sex. This on its own is a perfectly valid point, but thrown in with mentions of Grndr and Gay Saunas, she was basically aiming all of her sentiments at gay men. Or at least, what she perceives to be gay male behaviour, which in itself is an assumption of the stereotype that gay male homosexuality revolves around being promiscuous. She kept insisting in a semi-confident persona ‘that’s fine’ but let’s maybe talk to each other before we fuck, which clearly showed she didn’t think it was fine and wasn’t fine with it at all.

It was a shame, because she proved my theory that when we embrace ourselves that’s when we become most interesting. But that’s the hardest thing to be sure of. That’s why her performance not only lacked eumph and seemed shakey, but was bordering on offensive.

Why didn’t she talk about her own story? Why didn’t she speak about queer female issues? Why was she using the guise of a queer performance artist to address a trope of mainstream (gay) culture? Do many queer female artists feel to afraid to make work about themselves?

Come on ladies, self-identifying or otherwise, let's be brave in speaking from our perspective!

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We don't always have to try to appeal to men or speak in relation to them!

I fear that even the queer world has not reached the state of basic gender equality, and it too does not escape the historic under-representation of women. I must be echoing something I know feminists have been saying for years, but I was hoping the queer world might have been different. Or, rather I was hoping queer spaces would remember to make the effort to invest in female artists. Long before Simone De Beauvoir highlighted women as ‘Other’ (even in her own book she begins with how hesitant she was to write about women), women have struggled against male-domination in many fields. Unfortunately being a queer female artist still means being in the minority, even in your queerness.

(Ruth Goldman writes a great essay on the queer queer – click here to read my post about this)

To leave on a positive, l leave you with this lady; Esther Perel’s brilliant ted talk on desire.

[ted id=1669]