Changing cultures and the arts
Ursula Owen talks about the popularity of feminist presses
Like the women’s suffrage movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, feminism in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s placed a vital emphasis on cultural battles. Feminists set up theatre companies, film groups, artist collectives and publishing houses that supported campaigns, attempted to change ‘hearts and minds’, and questioned and expanded the political culture of the time.
Some activists thought that too much time was being spent debating culture. They felt that strategic political energy was being diverted into ‘cultural feminism’, with its emphasis on lifestyle, and away from debates around economics or politics. Though these tensions existed, however, even immediately urgent conflicts such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the miners’ strike enlisted women artists, historians, photographers and writers to propagate their cause.
Ellen Malos recalls using humour and satire to disrupt conventional protests and negotations
However, debates about the representation of women in arts and culture are still ongoing. For example, when it comes to contentious subjects such as pornography, activists struggle to negotiate the boundaries between freedom of speech and what can be harmful or limiting representations of women and sexual relations. Organisations such as the Alliance for Women in Media and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation exist to support women in all aspects of culture, and to continue to fight for gender equality. Cultural groups such as Sistershow and Guerilla Girls use humour to expose continued inequalities and to invite action against them.
Sue Lopez discusses her fight to be allowed to play football
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