anonymous asked:

Hey love, I'm doing a presentation on women's voices in the literary canon and am looking at the King James Bible, Canterbury tales and Venus and Adonis and am seeing how women have been written into history and western literature, and have been subsequently silenced along the way. Do you know of any good articles or sources I could use to aid my research, or do you have any personal thoughts on the topic? Thanks so much

I keep thinking about the unnecessarily sexualised stories of Helen of Troy and Cleopatra, how if you’re remembered in history you’re never you, you’re a stereotype, a martyr, a whore. Churchill says that history is written by the victors, and well, he’s not wrong. 4,000 years of patriarchal power hasn’t helped. The funny thing is, the first cultural conquest wasn’t of a country – it was of women and their means to self-expression.

23rd century BC. Enheduanna, the high priestess of Sumer, was the first person to realise that writing could be more than a simple contract or a message. It could be poetry, it could be stories, it could be history. Her declaration of “I am Enheduanna” still gets me. I am I am I am. I am. A statement of power, of autonomy, of authority. The 1,500 year gap between the next (known) female literary genius was the poet Sappho. I will personally fight anyone who dares to suggest that it was because women had nothing worth saying or recording. There is an undeniable link between political subjugation and control over written texts. The majority of women in history were deliberately kept ignorant, denied education and self-expression. In almost all societies, not just western, women have barely existed in the historical record.

Writing is power, and empowerment comes through knowledge and the means to express your thoughts. It’s so very difficult to have a voice when one side is able to manipulate history to its advantage. What do you say to hundreds of years of the women evil/incapable/inferior narrative? What can you do? Charlotte Bronte was described as a ‘sex-starved spinster’, Mary Wollstonecraft ‘a hyena in petticoats’. People literally released sheep into the hall where women were sitting their exams.

Trying to figure out where all the women in history are (who are no doubt worth remembering) is like looking for a needle in a haystack made of centuries of bullshit patriarchy. By leaving women out of history lessons, female inferiority is naturalised into our daily lives. This isn’t an issue that is going to solve itself in a year, or ten. But god, I hope we’re doing better.

The thousands of textiles currently housed at the Brooklyn Museum are prime examples of the vast global history of textile making and sewing traditions in New York City. In participation with New York Textile Month,we will be showcasing one textile per day for the month of September.  While difficult to narrow it down to only thirty textiles, we think these works are best at weaving narratives about topics such as innovations in the textile industry, craft and the beauty of the handmade, textiles from legendary designers like Frank Lloyd Wright and Anni Albers, as well as textiles with a sense of humor. Did you know that PeeWee’s Playhouse had a line of textiles made?

Luke Haynes was trained as an architect, but was taught sewing as a child by his mother. His transition to quilt-making was inspired by his desire to have full control of his artistic impulses and see a project through to completion that he felt architecture did not always allow. The unusual perspective of this machine sewn portrait is “read” properly only when the quilt is horizontal on a bed. This play on perspective stems from sixteenth-century Mannerist art practices. The acquisition of this quilt was an intentional effort to bring the Museum’s historical quilt collection up to the present, and with a quilt made by a man to introduce the notion of gender-bending into a traditionally all-female genre.   

Posted by Barry R. Harwood, Lark Morgenstern, and Caitlin Crews