Feminist-inspired art

In this post, I’m going to share some thoughts on the wonderful world of feminist art making. At the start, I’ll explain my historic antipathy to the feminist label and how I understand my feminism now. Then follows some quotations from some well-known feminists and proto-feminists (those women who were advocating for equality of rights before the suffrage movement). I have chosen these because they overlap with my feelings about feminism. Then ETC ETC


First, a confession. As a British woman of a certain age (I am sixty), I used to believe the feminist label announced antisocial attitudes with associations of man-hating and bra-burning; I understood it to be belligerently against the prevailing social order. My background and upbringing (white, professional, middle class, and educated at fee-paying schools) contaminated my understanding and the term’s universal relevance. It was my practice as an artist that changed my perspective. Now, I know feminism is for everyone; it is without exception and promotes equality and the empowerment of all at the expense of none.


I would describe my feminism as inclusive and open-hearted. Alongside Betty Friedan, Hélène Cixous and Sara Ahmed quotes below, my feminism is linked to learning and creativity. It is concerned with bringing things into being, It is singing a song; or creating a meal or growing herbs; it is raising a family and forming my art. My feminism is more than an idea or ideal and it is in my ethics; it is in my body and what I make.

Proto Feminism

The stirrings of disaffection

“I love man as my fellow; but his sceptre, real or usurped, extends not to me, unless the reason of an individual demands my homage”

“[W]oman might be entitled to equal rights and acknowledged as the equal of man, not his superior”

First Wave Feminism

Votes for women in the first half of the 20th Century

“You must make women count as much as men; you must have an equal standard of morals” 

“To emancipate woman is to refuse to confine her in the relations she bears to man, not to deny them; let her have her independent existence, and she will continue none the less to exist for him also”

Second Wave Feminsim

The pill brings sexual liberation from the 1960s onwards

“The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own”

“The housewife is an unpaid worker in her husband’s house in return for the security of being a permanent employee: hers is the reductio ad absurdum of the employee who accepts a lower wage in return for permanence of his employment” Germaine Greer, quote from The Female Eunuch

“I shall speak about women’s writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies-for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Woman must put herself into the text-as into the world and into history-by her own movement”

Third Wave Feminism

The 1990s brought acknowledgment of the plurality of experience with ideas about intersectional rights alongside gay solidarity 

“If there is something right in Beauvoir’s claim that one is not born but rather becomes a woman, it follows that woman itself is a term in process, a becoming, a constructing that cannot rightfully be said to originate or to end”

“Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politic. The soul of our politics is the commitment to ending domination”

Fourth Wave Feminism

Social media brings individual voices together in the #metoo movement to highlight persistent sexual harassment. 

“To become a feminist is to stay a student”