In the course of my daily life I walked down a street that has a community-based art gallery in it, and as I do I popped in for a quick look at the latest exhibition, knowing full-well that it's amateur art and not to expect too much. I saw something that I've never noticed before. I saw something that makes me worry. This is what I saw: a number of paintings on the theme of stereotypically attractive women swimming, with plenty of breasts filling out bikinis, some female nudes looking vulnerable and emotional with the stereotypical ideal female figure, a group of paintings on the theme of female models' faces on glam magazine covers, a couple on the theme of young children behaving badly, chucking tantrums, all very stereotypical, and one piece that was a clumsy bit of commentary on plastic surgery, featuring the face of an old lady. Information about the artist, as if it should alter my opinion of the art, was offered. Can you guess what gender the artist was?
I know I should not expect much from a community art exhibition. My concern isn't about the value of this stuff as art. My concern is that an artist so young should feel actually proud to put on display to the world such a limited, gender-defined artistic vision. Don't make the mistake of assuming that a feminist viewpoint explains the limitations of the themes in this body of work. I saw no fresh or revolutionary perspective. I did see a bunch of stereotypes and cliches. I can only assume that the younger generation of Australians feel a sense of pride in their gender-segregated lives and interests and viewpoints. I think it sucks big time.