In the Arts
The Arts is a platform for people to reflect about life. It is a means for them to share their beliefs with others and response to society. In this article, we introduce to you some of the significant works which deal with this topic-of-interest. We will also include some interesting contemporary works. In particular, we will include some of our local Singaporean playwrights and artists to provide new Asian perspectives as well. A lot of these works are centred on women due to the waves of Feminism. Therefore, we have more women exploring issues of gender through their works.
- A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by Mary Wollstonecraft
Even though Wollstonecraft is not the first to formulate feminist thoughts, she is the first to apply and publish individualist theory to Feminism.
The Second Sex (1908) by Simone de Beauvoir
One of the earliest and paradoxically explored writing on Radical Feminism even though it only gained momentum in 1960s.
- Sexual Politics (1970) by Kate Millett
The Female Eunuch (1970) by Germaine Greer
An Australian feminist and writer, she has recently published Shakespeare's Wife in 2007.
The Awakening (1899) by Kate Chopin
This short novel explores the story of Edna Pontellier who lives in a society which treats women as property and destines women's main function as rearing children. Actions of the protagonist is seen as rebellious, un-called for (for her sexual desires) and even "unmotherly". She does not meet society's expectations and struggles for self-fulfillment.
A Room of One's Own (1928) by Virginia Woolf
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write". Woolf discusses the prejudices of women in society and using an imaginary figure of Shakespeare's sister, she calls for the liberalization of women.
The Man in the Black Coat Turns (1981), The Tree Will be Here for A Thousand Year (1979) by Robert Bly
An American poet, Bly uses the spiritual or "mythopoetic" approach to explore deeply the consciousness of man and notions of masculinity.
- Contemporary Perspectives on Masculinity: Men, Women, and Politics in Modern Society (1990), Kenneth Clatterbaugh
The Myth of Male Power (1993) by Warren Farrell
An interesting perspective of men as the subservient and "weaker sex". Farrell, initially under the strand of Men's Liberation who later turned to Men's Rights, has also written many significant books revolving around this topic.
- Good Will Toward Men (1994), by Jack Kammer
- Wanda(1970) by Barbara Loden
The first feminist film to respond to the second wave of Feminism in America. Opposing Hollywood, as it is deemed to be re-enforcing social stereotypes that oppress women, people like Loden directed and starred in her own films which are inspired by their own personal experiences.
Many literary works have also been adapted into films and musicals. They include:
- The Colour Purple(1983) by Alice Walker
This acclaimed novel has been adapted into a film and musical. It provides a black woman's perspective living in the 1930s.
A Doll's House(1879) by Henrik Ibsen
A Norwegian play that explores the traditional roles of men and women in marriage.
- Top Girls (1982)by Caryl Churchill
The Joy Luck Club (1989)by Amanda Tan
It provides an Asian perspective of mothers and daughters living in modern America. The mothers struggle to meet new social roles and demands in their new lives as their daughters try to identify with themselves the traditional values and beliefs of their Oriental culture.
Emily of Emerald Hill (1983)by Stella Kon
Born in Edinburgh, this Singaporean writer has written a monodrama which revolves around a Nonya (commonly referred to an early Malay- Chinese descent who lived in the Straits Settlements after 1800) Matriarch. She is the head of a traditional Nonya family. But with the changing landscape of Singapore and people modernise to take on new social roles, her family members start to leave her physically and emotionally. She struggles as her conservative mindset is unable to catch-up with the times.
- Differencing the Canon: Feminist Desire and the Writing of Art Histories (forthcoming) by Griselda Pollock
Pollock is an art historian and critic. She emphasises the absence of female artists in art history and more importantly, to acknowledge female artists and works.
The Dinner Party (1979)by Judy Chicago
A prominent artist, Chicago collaborated with many female artists to create this installation. Comprising of a triangular table, it celebrates women's accomplishments of embroidery and weaving etc by placing them on the dinner table with full utensils and everything you need for a dinner party. It pays tribute to notable women with 999 names inscribed on the porcelain floor centred within the table.
Narrating Bodies (On-going) by Amanda Heng
A Singaporean artist, Heng works with her mother here to explore identities such as national, cultural and even gender.