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40 x 30 inches, oil on canvas, 2018


We are surrounded by contemporary hieroglyphics that when read together convey ideology.


Tennessee was the last state needed to ratify the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. After securing the support of 35 states, suffragists marched throughout the state wearing yellow roses. The roses were adopted by the National American Woman Suffrage Movement as the official color and symbol of support for women’s right to vote. In response, anti-suffragists adopted red roses to symbolize their opposition. This became known as the “war of the roses.” 


The vote came down to one man, who wore a red rose while Tennessee’s General Assembly met. After consistently siding with anti-suffragists, Harry T. Burn changed his mind, citing a letter from his mother as the reason he voted to ratify. I like to think he changed his rose, too. 


In Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay said because she is “a woman who loves pink” she is a bad feminist. Colors hold weight and they have meaning that changes with their context. Pink for girls, blue for boys, though pink is no longer okay. It’s now a symbol of female oppression, except when it’s on a breast cancer ribbon. Pink at a certain time, in a certain place, used by certain individuals, was a tool for enforcing gendered stereotypes. Pink within a context of reclamation and empowerment can be weaponized in favor of women’s independence. Wendy Davis wore pink stilettos while using a filibuster against anti abortion legislation in Texas. I tried as little girl, and am still trying, to find a pink helmet to wear on my dad’s motorcycle. 


Performances of femininity and feminism are allowed to differ. 


Florals and the color pink are too closely associated with traditional gender stereotypes, therefore subverting feminism. With this logic, almost everything can subvert feminism. It just depends on the context. 

War of the Roses

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