New exhibit at ARC Gallery, March 2019, juried by artist Olive Stefanski.
This exhibition addresses structural sexism—in particular, women’s emotional realities, and how that emotional reality plays out in a national atmosphere of distrust about women’s stories, women’s rationality and women’s anger.
His-ter’-ee-uh: from the Greek word “hystera”, or womb—an organ that was thought to migrate erratically through a woman’s abdomen, searching for “fragrant smells”, much like “an animal within an animal”. (Aretaeus, Greek physician, 2nd century AD)
While the uterus has become more sedentary over the intervening years, it nevertheless continued to be blamed for women’s irrationality and emotional distress. In the 19th century, a time marked by both physical constraints (corsets) and psychological restrictions (confinement to womanly activities), widespread concerns about female hysteria resulted in numerous cures for misbehaving wombs. A popular treatment for hysteria at the time was clitoral stimulation administered by one’s physician.
Today, in the inevitable backlash to the “MeToo” moment, women once again are distrusted, disdained (and sometimes diagnosed) for an emotionality that threatens the status quo. Women’s bodies continue to be the ground around which much of the conflict revolves. Strangely enough (as we saw in recent Supreme Court hearings) some of the hysteria around these events now seems to also emanate from men, which suggests the need for a new metaphor to explain the cause of women’s rage.