SHE-LOGY: This post is dedicated to the women who have survived sexual abuse, and have continued to bravely fight against sexualized violence for the women who have been victims and for the rest who live in fear that it may happen to them.
There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable. - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Warning: This post contains sensitive material.
These three women have one thing in common: they were raped.
ARTEMISIA GENTILESCHI is an Italian Baroque painter, considered one of the most accomplished painters even in a time when women painters were not common. Roberto Longhi, an important Italian critic, described her in a research paper dated 1916 as “the only woman in Italy who ever knew about painting…” However, for centuries, her works have been attributed to male artists. For example, her Susana and the Elders, was argued that such mature work, revolutionary in its realistic portrayal of the female body, could not be the work of a young woman, so they attributed it to her father who was also an artist.
Artemisia’s choice of subjects for her paintings shows a theme of suffering (e.g. sexually harassed Susana) yet strong mythical women and biblical heroines, which makes her a defiant artist who did not portray women in the stereotypical feminine traits. Her best-known work is Judith Slaying Holofernes. (Warning: Graphic image). This painting is said to be an interpretation of Artemisia’s exacting bloody revenge on her rapist. Read the full article about Artemisia’s story, particularly of the trials that followed the rape.
What is interesting is that Artemisia became well-known in her time, enjoyed huge success as a painter, and maintained good relations with respected artists and influential people. After her death, she soon became unknown, until centuries later when interest on her life story began.
EVE ENSLER is known for creating the groundbreaking Off Broadway show Vagina Monologues. The episodic play contains monologues which tackles feminine issues through the vagina, such as sex, birth, menstruation, rape, and endorses the vagina as a tool of female empowerment.
Eve created the play initially as a celebration of vaginas. It soon evolved into a movement to end violence against women and girls, eventually including transgender women, and became the cornerstone of the annual V-Day. It is a movement, started by Eve, that uses performances of The Vagina Monologues to raise money to benefit female victims of violence and sexual abuse.
Through Eve and the V-Day campaign came One Billion Rising, a global protest campaign to end violence and promote justice and gender equality for women. It is based on the statistic that 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime, and with a 7 Billion world population, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION women and girls.
Eve was raped and brutally beaten by her father from age 5 to 10.
ASHLEY JUDD is a well-known actress and political activist. She is also cited as one of the smartest girls in Hollywood, earning herself a mid-career public administration master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, completing the degree in just one year rather than two. I included her in this feature because of the incident this week which led her to write about it in an essay for Mic.com titled “Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass”. This was in response to her Twitter trolls who stormed her with abusive tweets, including threats of sexual assault and rape. In her open letter, she also said “I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and incest.”
Her case is an example of an emerging issue of gender-based harassment around social media. Despite all the criticisms thrown at her for her “exaggerated” reaction, I support her in calling out everyone to take responsibility for what we write on social media, particularly for these misogynistic online attacks. Whenever I research about the women I feature on She-logy, almost always I find comments, ranging from harsh to horrific, targeted towards them. The recent one was for Amanpour, a reputable CNN correspondent. I was shocked to read comments criticizing her, oh no, not for her work, for her being a wh*re. I have yet to read a comment attacking the morals and dignity of a man whose professional work somehow did not pass the satisfaction of certain viewers. Why are women attacked this way, more horridly now with the emergence of social media?
SHE-LOGY is a blog project open to everyone who is interested to celebrate women this whole month of March. If you’re reading this, I extend that invitation to you to contribute post/s about the women you’d like to honor. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading this.