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The Obstacle Race by Germaine Greer Essay


Germaine Greer books reflect issues affecting women artists. She is a feminist writer who explores the works of female painters. She looked at the contribution female painters have achieved. In her book, The Obstacle Race, Greer analyses the works and destiny of women artists.

She keenly observes why women have not excelled in the field of art. The author points at such issues like social, economic and gender factors as the main cause of women oppression in every aspect of their lives. Greer points out that for women to achieve their true excellence, they have to fight the conventional roles society imposed on them (Nochlin 30).

Greer notes that a fundamental obstacle to progress of women is the institution of family. Whereas one should get all the support from family, it is ironical to observe that it is the family which is destroying women’s career in arts as well as other fields. Greer gives Marietta as an example. Marietta’s father jealously guarded her to the point of destroying her talent.

Though Marietta was a highly gifted artist, there are extremely few traces of her paintings left. Female artists also faced obstacles from potential lovers. These men presented obstacles to prosperity of women artists. Greer uses a character like Frida, whose works and life Diego significantly influenced negatively.

The relationships lead to termination of the development and prosperity of female painters as they take the roles of a wife and mother.

Greer laments the loss of arts done by female artists. She writes that society’s physical neglect of women painting is worse than cultural vandalism. Greer symbolically equates this to a form of rape. She keeps on referring to neglected oeuvre, which is slowly disappearing.

Greer alludes to names, which can longer be remembered. Society considers women painting as non significance leading to their disappearance. This is how the vital part of women’s heritage is missing in history.

Greer demonstrates that women painters who the society gave praise also ended up worse. Excessive praises lead to confinement of women artists. The society saw womanly arts as the solution to those qualities of arts rejected in men’s work.

Their paintings failed to survive changing times in history and tastes. People thought that some painting done by women were the works of men. The public subjected successful women painters to gossips related to promiscuity such as Artemisia Gentileschi. Other female artists became the objects of desire for the society.

Creative women working in different arts share common obstacles and challenges. These obstacles and challenges range from economic, social and to some extent, personal. The politics of male dominance is an issue of concern among women for a long time. The society perceives women artists and their conditions in the art industry from the view point of their male counterparts.

John Stuart Mill recognizes the subjectivity and distortion of issues affecting female artists. This situation must be corrected to give an accurate view of women artists’ situations. In fact, Nolchin suggests that women should solve their own problems.

The economic situations result into hardship among women artists. Women artists who were not lucky enough to possess considerable fortunes often had their careers at limbo. Nolchin blames the poor economic status of women in society and the education system. At the same time, she points out issues of racism among the dominant whites who could have affected the contribution of female painters in art (Nochlin 50).

The social order in society creates social injustice to women artists. History distorts achievements of women artist. This is because there has never been a way to capture achievements of women and reflect them later in an accurate and non distorted way. The cultural ideological of the time subjected women professionalism to inadequacies and biases.

Further, feminist scholars note that any question regarding female artists will provoke a chain-reaction, leading to other issues rather than the issue at hand. Talented female artists existed. However, history has never fully investigated their works or contribution to the field of art. Their contributions are neither recognized nor appreciated.

Since the period of feminism movements, the issue of gender and education took center stage. Rosenberg and Thurber bring issues of gender equity into art classroom. Equity requires that differences between men and women be recognized and provided for in gender studies.

The authors are extending the same opportunities available to men through recognizing areas of gender inequality and reducing them via art and gender studies. For instance, inequality in recognition of feminist artists can only be addressed through gender and art education (Rosenberg & Thurber 140).

The studies try to recognize and value the ways in which women are different from men (identity). Women experience sexual, cultural and bodily variations from men, which the society should recognize and celebrate.

These scholars put emphasis on enhancing the position of women as artists and projecting their values into artistic life. The study is critical of social equality methods where the male dominance is the norm against which society perceives women, and where women’s position transcends so as to achieve equality.

Gender and art studies try to address the socially conceived male dominance nature as the methods of evaluation seen relevant to social inclusion. The studies address the equality and difference rather than their incompatible oppositions. Gender inequality exists among social and cultural groups.

However, gender and art studies show that equality can exist out of mutual respect for each gender, and affirmation of one another in their differences. These studies try to work out a strategy of artists’ group consciousness. Group consciousness will ensure mutual recognition and affirmation of group differences among artists of various forms of arts (Rosenberg & Thurber 30).

Gender-related ideas and assumptions have affected women’s creative abilities is several ways. Studies suggest that women demonstrate their creative abilities in several ways from aesthetic sensitivity, personal, relationships to public life.

Female artists have realized their creative abilities and expressed them in several spheres of life. This has enabled them to develop their talents. Female artists are in a position of adjusting to problems they encounter.

A number of creative women have nurtured their skills throughout due to achievements made by feminism movements. The developments associated with gender equality have sensitized women, and they are striving to have their artistic works gain recognition. For instance, female authors often portray issues affecting them in their works. At the same time, they can demand equal representation in art arena.

Gender-related ideas tend to encourage women to minimize the gender gap that previously existed. Historically, society isolated and labeled successful female artists with sexual connotations. People never appreciated and recognized women artists. In fact, their works disappeared due to negligence.

Female artists have become more assertive and have demonstrated their vital and various creative abilities. Gender and art studies show that women have emerged strongly and now competing aggressively with their male counterparts.

Works Cited

Nochlin, Linda. Women, Art, And Power And Other Essays. New York: Westview Press , 1989. Print.

Rosenberg, Martin & Thurber, Frances. Gender Matters in Art Education. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications, 2007. Print.

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