Guest Post: Platform-Building for Women in the 21st Century
My good friend and colleague Jan Phillips wrote this for Huffington Post recently. When I read it, I was touched, moved and inspired to share it here. What’s disturbing is this pattern has been at play for what seems like centuries to hear it told. It’s time for a change and we are the ones.
Take it away Jan:
Fifty years ago, Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, sparked a women’s movement that rocked the world. It was about “the problem that has no name.” They didn’t know what to call it back then. But today, ask any woman if she’s ever felt silenced, and chances are she’ll say yes. Cultures have been silencing women for centuries, and as a result, women’s voices and creations are under-represented everywhere you look.
In the US, women make up 51 percent of the workforce and hold 16.1 percent of the board positions. While 85% of the nudes in a museum are apt to be female, only 5 percent of its artists are. Only 5 percent of the film directors in the U.S. are female. While women are 51 percent of the population, we hold 17 percent of the seats in Congress. Of the 500 largest corporations, 4.2 percent have a female CEO. Of those who’ve gained eminence in science and writing, 1 percent have been women.
In a recent study of male and female art students at the San Francisco Art Institute, the question was asked: Do you think of yourself as an artist? 67 percent of the women said no and 60 percent of the men said yes. When asked the question, in comparison to the work of others at the Institute, is your work particularly unique or good? 40 percent of the men and 17 percent of the women answered yes. And when asked In comparison to the work of others at the Institute, is your work inferior? the percentages were reversed: 40 percent of the women felt their work was inferior and 14 percent of the men agreed.
In a year long study from 2009-2010, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) examined every politically-themed book that The New York Times Book Review critiqued. FAIR reported that 95 percent of US authors reviewed in the publication were white, and 87 percent were male.
Doors are never going to just open up to a new reality for women. In order to create a culture that is balanced and fair, where the power and voices of women are equal to that of the men, then it is our job as women to make that happen. We are the suffragettes of our times, the ones who create the events that ignite the public and personal imagination, that free our creative powers, that cause another wave of energy and potential to wash over our world.
My Livingkindness Foundation is sponsoring an event to do just that. It is 3 day symposium for women to bring together art and activism, creativity and spirituality. All women are invited to come to the well, to feed their souls, to be inspired by the artistry, the genius, the social reach and impact of their fellow creators. It is a forum for all of us, no matter where we stand in relationship to the arts — for we are each other’s mirrors and witnesses. We are satellite dishes receiving each others’s signals and symbols.
Yesterday as I was explaining the event to someone, I described the feeling many of us have had upon hearing of someone’s success or achievement: “If she can, I can.” It’s like that, I said. We’re inspired by each other. The woman picked up on it right away and said, “Oh I get it: it’s an “If she can, we can weekend!” Exactly.
We’re giving $1000 Art & Activism awards to four women who have had a significant impact on American culture: Pulitzer nominee poet/ writer Linda Hogan, from the Chickasaw Nation, Grammy-winner Joanne Shenandoah, from the Iroquois Confederacy, and June Millington, co-founder of the first women’s rock and roll band in the country and her partner Ann Hackler who co-founded the Institute for Musical Arts which trains young women in the art and business of music-making.
Also appearing will be Inocente, a nineteen year old artist who lived as a homeless undocumented immigrant who found the arts both healing and redemptive. The documentary about her life, Inocente, won this year’s Academy Award for Documentary Short.
There are a variety of EVE talks (Expressing Values that are Evolutionary), salons in writing, photography, social networking, platform-building, crowdfunding, digital campaigns and art immersion experiences in photography, painting, movement, ritual and digital storytelling.
For more info, http://www.livingkindness.org/Livingkindness/Events.html