In Virginia Woolf’s short essay, Shakespeare’s Sister (1928), she explores the misogynistic world’s effect on women artists from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Depicted through an imaginary sister of Shakespeare, and her own experiences, Woolf explains how “in the nineteenth century a woman was not encouraged to be an artist.” Instead, women were deemed of no value beyond the home or child bearing (Jacobus 702). Such gender issues have emerged in every facet of our society, primarily concentrating on gender equality in areas like education, status, awareness, and availing of socio-economic opportunities. In today’s context, with an overall look at history, in comparison to men, women remain relatively more constrained by domestic responsibilities that hinder their freedom for art, or as Rousseau said “leisure”. It’s not that women have no less artistic potential than men today, perhaps it’s that women have been given inferior training, women have been given a negative self-image from family or society, or women have found it difficult to break into the marketplace.
Female achievements in the arts can be strongly correlated with measures of available opportunities. One can even find that most of the notable female creators had exceptional artistic educations, or received extraordinary encouragement from their families. Since these forms of support are contingent, the evidence would suggest that women’s achievements could, in principle, have reached far greater heights, if not for discrimination. Large numbers of potential artists are born, but most of these individuals have no opportunity to develop their skills. The quality of artistic achievement is extremely sensitive to initial condition, such a favorable enviro...
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...ent of colored women’s work and the Guggenheim five percent. Today in the United States, The National Museum of Women in the Arts estimates that five percent of art currently on display was made by women (Bader).
As Virginia Woolf believed, women have always been stripped away of any abilities in the arts because of relative poverty and familial constraints. However, should it be any less that a woman must too endure exhortation from society? In the progressive United States, legal sanctions protect individual liberties, no matter what gender. However, while women can pursue liberties, they are still limited in their ability to pursue artistic genius. The United States may have progressed as a nation since the eighteenth century in every way of life; however, gender issues still emerge in the arts. And women should be entitled to equality in art - as well as life.
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