Feminism In The Dinner Party

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The Dinner Party and Second Wave Feminism The 1960’s and 70’s was a period defined by change. During the civil rights movement, the American population became increasingly aware of the struggles of minority groups. This newfound awareness paved the way for second wave feminism. The objective of second wave feminism was the liberation of women, with respect to reproductive rights and sexuality among other things, and the primary means of expression of these ideals were through protest, literature, and art. One piece of art that truly embodies the ideals of second wave feminism is Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party (fig #1), in that it reflects the political environment of the era, and makes commentary on female sexuality, domestic dynamics, …show more content…
For instance, the installation is called The Dinner Party. This is an event a woman is stereotypically in charge of organizing, however, women were never the focus of these events; they were the ones preparing food, and socializing with other families. A woman hosting a dinner party at that time was taken for granted, as was most women’s work. However, Chicago cleverly uses the dinner party to honor women and bring them to the forefront of the viewer’s attention. The installation incorporates needlework, which has historically been considered womanly work, as women were expected to mend things about the house and ensure that their husbands and children’s clothes were kept neat. However, in this case, the needlework is being used not in relation to a woman’s role in the home, nor to her familiar obligations, but instead it is used to glorify and uplift her, and to make her accomplishments known. The dinner party atmosphere and use of needlework are not bound to the identity of a housewife, but are used to tell numerous women’s powerful stories. Women’s liberation included freeing women from the confines of the home, and dismantling the idea that a woman is only vital in the context of the 1950’s nuclear family. Chicago uses butterflies to symbolize liberation from the domestic position, which is an idea also expressed within second wave feminist literature. In The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan elaborated on the problem faced by American housewives. Stated Friedan, “If a woman had a problem in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she knew that something must be wrong with her marriage, or with herself. Other women were satisfied with their lives, she thought. What kind of a woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor? She was so ashamed to admit her dissatisfaction that she never knew how many other women shared it. If she tried to tell her husband, he

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