Being an Artist is a feminist issue

Although I’ve been painting, selling my paintings and displaying them regularly in shows, even juried shows, for these past 20 years, there are times when I catch myself hesitating to call myself an “Artist.” Oh sure, I’ll happily call myself a painter, but Artist? Am I letting my ego get ahead of me?

In talking to my fellow artists, I’ve noticed that many of my female contemporaries feel the same way. They’re quick to make a self-deprecating comment. Or they will laugh as if to say they dabble in art.

At the same time, I don’t notice this same hesitation in the men. Whether a photographer, painter, art teacher or glass blower, men often feel good about calling himself an artist, even when it’s only a part-time passion.

Now this is not to say all men feel this way, nor all women, but it’s something I’ve noticed in myself and many of the artists with whom I’ve talked about this.  We seem to fear that we’ll be found out to be a poseur.

What’s interesting to me is that this relates to the conversation so important in today’s sociological discourse.  Why are women not confident? Why do we hesitate to elevate ourselves to the place we rightfully hold?  Of course, we know why. Women are told they can do anything they want to do, then get knocked down repeatedly during their climb to the top.

Let’s hope the Me Too movement, the discussions about equal pay for women and the call for more women in leadership roles will help boost women’s confidence.  Let’s call ourselves artists, writers, leaders.  Let’s stop second-guessing ourselves. We know that we are artists. We know that we have talent. We see it when our work inspires people to stop, look and think for a while. Let’s own it.

Rebecca Seymour for Artist!

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