when you assume…

One of the things I love about my job is the assumption that is made about me as a woman who paints nudes.
I’m easy,
I’m a slut,
I’m desperate for a new male model (despite my largely female portfolio)
That I need pictures of men I don’t know sending me photos of themselves and their junk.

Did I say love? Yeah, I mean hate.

Because I am a woman and I paint nudes a certain association is made in the minds of certain people. And that association is neither flattering to me, to artists or to women.
I would like to clarify a few misconceptions if I can.
I do not get lady wood when I paint. Unless a paint stroke suddenly makes all the difference and then it’s more of a perfect moment of clarity, like a perfect note, than anything sexual.
I do not paint men often because I find them less artistically inspiring as a rule, not because I lack models. My poor husband is dragged into the studio quite a lot to be a model (of any gender- I usually need a muscle or skin reference or a quick idea), and it is not sexy or glamorous for him.

This assumption, however, extends beyond complete strangers and their junk (which I am largely ambivalous about). It goes to the heart of acceptance for women in the arts, especially in a male dominated genre. It goes to the heart of Indecencies whispered in my ear by male gallery owners in the past and outright offers made to my person. Now I am not above loving a bit of flattery, I certainly don’t mind a bit of saucy banter. But I draw the line at my career being defined by my willingness to hop in bed with gallery owners. I know other female artists who have had the same issues, some quite famous. And it doesn’t end with artists. Women in male dominated industries are often put on the spot. If she is sexual and sensual and not afraid to show it she is a slut. If she turns down a colleague she’s frigid. No mention is made of her work ability.

I had a job once where I finally became open about my sexuality to some of my workmates. A week later I was fired for no reason. (i owned that job- but i wasn’t too upset.. That was the one where the ceo preferred account managers to be female and pretty to win over clients better. He resented that I had a mind. I resented him. And his ridiculous Innapropriate overuse of whom) Another job where I bridled at all the sexual innuendo and harassment from a boss and finally outright turned him down I was fired. You may infer from all this that I was not cut out for an office job. But that shouldn’t be the point. A woman should not be afraid to be herself at her place of work. And I certainly have worked in some wonderful offices as well where I was not harassed at all.

one day we will all just be people working at our jobs. it won’t matter what gender we are, or our sexuality, or our color, our physical or intellectual impairments or age. we will be people.

but today is not that day sadly.

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