The Guerrilla Girls is a group of American activists who aims to bring attention to “the uncontrolled” sexual and racial discrimination and male domination within society (Lipton 20), especially in the artistic realm. In 1985, these radical feminist artists saw the disparity between the public appreciation towards female and male artists. During an exhibit “An International Survey of Painting and Sculpture” at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, there were 169 artists in total, but only 13 females. The Guerrilla Girls yearned for equality, claimed to combat against sexism and racism in the artistic field and called for recognition of female artists’ talents (Guerrilla).
The Guerrilla Girls spread their influences around the global community through mass culture jamming, empowered by posters, billboards, books and public actions. Above is one of their most commonly seen posters, which satirizes the patriarchy within the art world and brings up the issue of female artists being marginalized. This poster is a copy of Ingres’s famous painting Grande Odalisque, except with a gorilla’s head. The Guerrilla Girls expose the severity of sexism by emphasizing the artistic appreciation of female nudity instead of women’s real talents. The combination of the gorilla head and the suggestive pose of an odalisque is a direct mockery towards America’s artistic society; it hints at the society’s shallowness in the way that women are judged not by their intelligence, but rather their looks. Also, the poster calls for respect towards female artists’ talents. Next to the gorilla’s head, “3% artists” and “83% nudes” are highlighted to stress the irony that “women have to be naked to get into U.S. museums.” These figures indicate the severity of sexism and the importance for women to rise up and break the stereotypes that are hindering female artists’ advancement.
The Guerrilla Girls’s poster might motivate feminist activists and other women in society in a number of ways. It showcases the way society perceives women as submissive and sexual, while ignoring any of their thoughts and individuality (Lipton 20). Such revelation is able to open women’s eyes to make them realize the stereotypes they are categorized under on a daily basis. The poster’s provocative messages might incite women’s anger and desire to resist. The wild and terrifying facial expression of the gorilla head only adds on its effect in motivating women’s feminist movements. The gorilla looks furious and dissatisfied, declaring that women are not content with the way they are treated and that even odalisques (female slaves) will not remain subservient. The Guerrilla Girls’ brave movements directly censure society’s prejudices towards women and encourage women to make a difference.
"Guerrilla Girls." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 11 May. 2011. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/248352/Guerrilla-Girls>.
Lipton, Eunice. "Review: Monkey Business." Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls by Guerrilla Girls 12.10/11 (1995): 20-21. Jstor. Old City Publishing, Inc. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4022166>.