Why would a woman tell another woman she shouldn’t have kids because it will ruin her life, ruin her art career, ruin her body, take away all her freedoms? It happened to me, good friends told me I shouldn’t have kids because it would ruin my art career. On Facebook this weekend a thread was started with a question, kids? Or no kids? Versus Art? I can’t remember the exact phrasing. It brought a slew of responses, most of them kid positive, all of them acknowledging women’s “place” in the art world, being less than satisfactory. Men still have the lion share of Museum and Gallery representation and sell their art at a much higher price. But would this have been different if men were the ones giving birth? I wonder. Many women on the thread also made comments about privileged women with children vs. non-privileged women with children, those who married well vs. those who didn’t fair too well on the significant other and single moms. Categorizing women artists with children in a hierarchy according to wealth and circumstance to determine who has the best chance of “Making it” as an artist, which means competing in a male dominated art world. But is that it? So simply defined? Having the ability, time, money, right circumstances to be an artist is only half of it. A person must have confidence, determination, a vision, and work ethic.
Is confidence more the defining factor? Have our women counterparts told us negative things about ourselves, pitted us against each other, making us less confident? Has that stifled our determination to be professional artists and compete in a man’s world? Has our vision been clouded because of all the comments from other women? A man has NEVER told me if I have kids I can’t be a successful artist, it’s only been women. Has our work ethic when it comes to our own work been side stepped to make more time for cooking and cleaning and wiping butts? We are our own worst enemies. Until ALL women come together and support each other in the art world regardless if we have kids or not, money or not, husbands or not, we will NEVER be able to make headway.
Yesterday I went for a hike with my family. I brought my sketchbook and pens, I brought the same for my almost four-year-old daughter, my son likes climbing on trees, so I didn’t bring one for him. Fiona and I sketched shadows and leaves and cat tails. I jotted down notes on things I want to write about, things I want to paint about. We hiked the whole way around the lake on foot, the first time with no stroller, no back-pack carriers. It was a beautiful fall day, crisp, trees all turning oranges and reds and yellows. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, a family or no family. No one ever told a man not to have a family because it will ruin his life or career. Why are women told they can’t enjoy having a family life? I have a sink FULL of dirty dishes looking at me, the house is a mess, laundry piled up. I have two kids I need to get ready for pre-school, make lunches. I don’t care, things will get done. If I need to write or go to my studio while they are in school and do the dishes later that’s fine. No one, no circumstance can take away a woman’s need to be creative. It’s unfortunate that other women would try to dampen our dreams and desires of being artists because we chose to have children. Remember, Men do not do this to each other. Are we keeping ourselves down by not uniting?