Two new exhibitions at RMIT Gallery explore the ways women still feel culturally conditioned and socially obligated to seek male approval. Elizabeth Gower’s he loves me, he loves me not and Mithu Sen + Pushpa Rawat’s Quiet Voices were opened on Thursday 10 March by ethicist Dr Leslie Cannold and journalist and author Sushi Das.
Dr Leslie Cannold said that the mere idea of Gower’s exhibition moved her so much and asked her to question why it is that women ask ‘does he loves me’ rather than ‘do I love myself?”
“Standing among the suspended panels, seeing the words repeated over and over again in the gallery space, I am even more moved by Gower’s work when I see it in the flesh,” Cannold said.
Sushi Das, The Age opinion editor, said Quiet Voices poetically address issues women in India face with obligation, patriarchy and the inter-generational dynamic. Das, author of the memoir Deranged Marriage said the works by Mithu Sen + Pushpa Rawat strongly address how women are conditioned to seek approval not only from their parents, but everyone, including their husband, bosses, even their children.
“We might not understand the language in these films, but instinctively relate to them and see within them the seed of women’s potential, no matter when that decision to break free from expectation finally comes, and for some, it isn’t until menopause or when they become grandmothers.”
On Thursday 7 April from 5.30-6.30, RMIT Gallery will be holding a free panel discussion on “seeking Approval: A question of power, gender or culture?”
Speakers Dr Elizabeth Gower (artist, educator), Dr Leslie Cannold (ethicist, researcher, author The Book of Rachael, What, No Baby? The Abortion Myth), Sushi Das (Opinion Editor, The Age, author Deranged Marriage) and Dr Meagan Tyler (RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow, editor Freedom Fallacy: The limits of liberal feminism) will explore women’s power struggles across different generations and cultures, including sexual violence and intimate partner violence, the need to please, and the ways the arts and the digital sphere provide an arena for women’s voices to be heard.