Public Perception of Feminist Performance Activism

Topics: Activism, Feminism, Gender Pages: 6 (1927 words) Published: March 10, 2011
Public Perception of Feminist Performance Activism
In examinations of women’s art and activism, researchers claim that the results of these activist groups' performances are almost always challenging the cultural assumptions about genders. In “Code Pink, Raging Grannies, and the Missile Dick Chicks: Feminist Performance Activism in the Contemporary Anti-War Movement,” Rachel V. Kutz-Flamebaum argues that feminist performance activist groups integrate a combination of gender norm-embracing and norm-challenging elements in their performances. By spreading their viewpoints as they attempt to gain public attention and legitimate results from mass media, these feminist demonstrations in both Emily Anderson’s “Treacherous Pin-ups, Politicized Prostitutes, and Activist Betrayals: Jane Fonda’s Body is Hollywood and Hanoi,” and Kutz-Flamebaun’s article, are socially unaccepted in which their actions are deemed as a violation of female norm. However, without the media support, these extraordinary performances, such as Suzzanne Lacy’s visceral performance, as examined by Vivien Green Fryd’s article, “Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in May: Feminist Activist Performance Art,” will have very little to no effect on the cultural attitudes subsequently resulting failure on public discourse upon formerly silent subjects. Moreover, in “Growing the Size of the Black Woman’: Feminist Activist in Havana Hip Hop,” Ronni Armstead states that lyrics and music performances can also express one’s beliefs and help feminist activist step up as the vanguard of feminism strategically, but often times these artists only get negative criticisms. Similarly, with respect of Suellen Murray’s indication in “Taking the Toys From the Boys Feminism and Australian Women’s Peace Activism in the 1980s,” these female activists shared much in common. Even with the continuation of negative responses, these female activists are stubbornly motivated to execute significant unfeminine actions in attempt to seek for acceptance from society. Despite the differences in the activists’ concepts and their activism methods, their actions disrupt the balance of gender norms hence prevent female activists from directly expressing their ideas. According to these researchers, they conclude that in order to gain full attention from society, women are condemned to stay within gender norm boundaries. While much research has be done to the cultural assumption that inform gendered performance activism, there has been little study on the outcomes of these feminists’ performances as they try to convey their messages through different gender norm strategies. Is the public perception aligning with these female activists to support their feminist performances? A study will be examined highly profiled websites, providing practical data of viewers’ judgments such as YouTube videos, artists’ blogs and CNN iReports. Feminist performance activists: Ellen DeGeneres, Bikini Kill and naked street protesters will be categorized accordingly. By analyzing viewers’ comments, the effectiveness of these female demonstrations can be verified. While many scholars have focused largely on examining the cultural assumption of gender norm through feminist demonstrations, the responses from the audiences are often disconnected from the fundamental idea of the activist performances. This paper argues that the female activists’ motivations are misinterpreted because of the subjective discourse that is heavily based on the extraordinary performances. The cultivation by the popular press of well-known hostess Ellen DeGeneres uses her fame to indoctrinate gay rights to her audiences. As a true lesbian icon, Ellen DeGeneres believes that homosexuality is not a threat to society and that people are allowed to be with who they love. Her images on screen as a female activist have gained public attention from variety of people, for instance, the non-religious and religious viewers, homosexuals and passionate fans. They...

Cited: Anderson, Emily. "Treacherous Pin-ups, Politicized Prostitutes, and Activist Betrayals: Jane Fonda 's Body in Hollywood and Hanoi." Quarterly Review of Film & Video 25.4 (2008): 315-333. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
Armstead, Ronni. " 'Growing the Size of the Black Woman ': Feminist Activism in Havana Hip Hop." NWSA Journal 19.1 (2007): 106-117. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 2 Dec. 2010.
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