Begging for a New Standard - Sample Essay
Since there is no archival documentation nor the existence of artifacts to corroborate the claim made earlier, feminists are now changing tactics. They argue that, “… there is a different kind of ‘greatness’ for women’s art than for men’s, thereby postulating the existence of a distinctive and recognizable feminine style, different both in its formal and its expressive qualities… ” (Nochlin, 1988). This last attempt was considered as a desperate attempt according to Nochlin, yet unfortunately there is no distinct style that ever emerged when studying the works of women artists.
There is no need to resort to such tactics as described above because according to Nochlin there is no such thing as a great woman artist. The following statements serve as the final verdict and dousing all hope that there is at least one female in history who can proudly lay claim to the assertion that women are not inferior to men with regards to painting and sculpting. The words of Nochlin effectively shoots down further arguments coming from the feminist camp: The fact of the matter is that there have been no supremely great women artists, as far as we know … nor have there been any great Lithuanian jazz pianists, nor Eskimo tennis players, no matter how much we might wish there had been.
That this should be the case is regrettable, but no amount of manipulating the historical or critical evidence will alter the situation; nor will accusations of male-chauvinist distortion of history. The abovementioned statements were validated by Mike Sanders who wrote, “Discussing the historical argument for the intellectual inferiority of women, we have assumed that, with very limited exception, no artist of eminence, no social luminary, has belonged to that sex…” (2001, p. 221).
Nochlin was correct in saying that there is no need to be on the defensive and try to wiggle out from a no-win situation. It is much better to accept facts and then work from there. So after presenting the problem and removing all bias and preconceived notions Nochlin proceeded to show the real reason why there are no great women artists in history. But before going there it will be of much help to present other writers view as to why this is the case. Reason
As mentioned, there can be many explanations as to why no one can find any iota of evidence to the existence of even one solitary female figure that could become the poster girl for high art. It is therefore interesting to find out the explanation offered by those who clearly believe in the idea that women are subservient to men. The following explanations are just some of the reasons why it was impossible for women reach the stature of a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo. Essentialism
The first reason for the non-appearance of women in the hall of fame is said to be due to the “essentialism” theory. This idea argues that, “… all objects have some qualities that are essential and some that are accidental … This is the idea that one’s biology, one’s body, determines one’s destiny; for instance, that because a woman has a womb she is destined by nature to raise children in private rather than pursue a public career as, say an artist or an art historian” (Hatt & Klonk, 2006, p. 148).
This means that women are biologically determined to be full time mothers and not be able to pursue other endeavours. Nature A rather harsh explanation can be gleaned from the scientific world. Some psychologists argue that women are inferior simply because they were created that way. This simply more than mere “essentialism” but rather more focused on the physiology of the female body as well as to her mental capabilities. In this school of thought it is impossible for women to achieve the level of artistic geniuses in the same manner as a Van Gogh or a Gaugin.
According to its chief proponent, the Italian physiologist Cesare Lombroso: In all vertebrate animals the female is inferior to the male in intellect. The aesthetic sentiment is apparent primarily in the males. In singing birds, the male alone sings. Darwin has noticed that in monkey the feeling for music is more developed in the males … Another cause which forbids genius in women is that genius is demonstrated by invention. Now the essential characteristic of women is misoneism (hatred of novelty).
She does not care for new things; she preserves for long the customs and beliefs which men have outgrown (as cited in Suzanne Now Suzanne goes further by saying that, “…one of the conditions of genus is solitude. Most great men have been solitary spirits. Women cannot live alone, they need support…” (p. 778). It is clear that these observations are tainted with bias but Nochlin asserts that there is more to it than simply male chauvinism.