In Response to the New Article by Alexandre


Credit: Isabela Peixoto

This month, the Talon reported on an event that occurred during the celebration of International Women’s Day at Graded. The school’s Femolution club decided to organize an art exhibition in order to raise awareness on the issues of gender inequality and in to bring reflection to the community. One of the main goals was also to give the students, and especially the girls, at Graded, a voice.

This article has been written with the utmost respect for all of my women teachers who continually inspire me on a daily basis. It does not aim to condemn anyone personally, and readers are encouraged to read the news report in order to get a wider view of the situation. It does however, criticise the actions taken on this particular situation.

When I first heard of the removal of an art piece from the exhibition, my first response was anger. I was furious and outraged. How could an institution that I so greatly admired, who had always seemed to support my battles against sexism, act in such a way? It was beyond my understanding. I felt betrayed. Betrayed by the school, which had not stood its ground in order to expose an issue that so greatly resonated with our reality. Betrayed by my peers, who had seemed to disregard the severity of the situation. Betrayed by myself, because I was powerless when I should have been fighting.

With the first few minutes of angst having passed, I began to calm myself down, to truly reflect upon the situation and deconstruct the meaning of all this. What was the actual problem?

The art piece in question depicted a bloody tampon alongside a gun, with the words “ONE OF THESE IS STIGMATIZED AND IT’S NOT THE ONE THAT KILLS”. Considering the events that had taken place the previous week with the school shooting in Parkland, California, clearly an important message. The school claimed that the inappropriateness of the painting came because it depicted a violent image. Guns should not be displayed in an environment where young children would be present.

Initially, this sounded like a reasonable enough answer to me. However, with reflection, I realized that it wasn’t. The gun was not the problem. These children see guns every day. Whether it is in video games, or simply walking into a supermarket in the United States, guns are a present part of children’s lives. What was truly shocking, was the presence of a bloody tampon.

Ironically, the very thing that the artist was criticizing was what got it censured. This poses another problem, that of the stigmatization of women’s bodies. Why is it that menstruation is such a taboo topic? What makes it so shocking to our society that we cannot seem to cherish it?

If we were to think about it, a period is one of the most beautiful and natural things in the world. It literally gives women the ability to create life. It happens to half of the population and we are all affected by it. Shouldn’t we be in a time when the ability to menstruate is cherished and not stigmatized?

It is ironic that we shield our children from what creates life, while we allow them to live in a society that constantly idealises death. Movies, videogames, popular culture overflow with violence, yet when we attempt to criticize it, we are silenced.

The Femolution art exhibition did not give artists rules or guidelines to follow because it was aimed at empowering our women, not restraining their thoughts. It was provocative. That was the point.

We will not change people’s thoughts or make them at least reflect on the issues if we simply leave them in their comfort zone. Is that not the point of art?

The removal of an art piece from the exhibition, could be seen as another loss for us women. We were once again “being put in our place”. As girls we are constantly taught that is okay to have an opinion “as long as you are not too angry”, “as long as you are not too shocking”, as long as it doesn’t actually bother anyone. That is why the fires within us end up slowly dimming. However, the event could also be inspiring.

The art piece would not have been censored if it was not achieving its purpose. It would not have been removed if it didn’t make people uncomfortable, and that was precisely what it was aiming for. Regardless of its removal, the piece was seen and talked about, perhaps even more than it would have had it been exposed. It taught us that we need to keep on provoking people.

We should be proud of the beautiful girl who made such a beautiful painting. We hear your voice and will support you until we cannot anymore. The purpose of a school is to create a more democratic and egalitarian society, with critical thinking people who will make the world a better place in the future. We will never achieve that if we shield them from the injustices of our world.