I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.
Good designs sell – mine sell out!

http://www.artbyhensley.com/index.html

Friday, April 6, 2012

"Vocal"

When I was a child, girls wore dresses and knee socks in blizzards. Since we lived in the sticks, we had to wait for a bus to pick us up for school, and had to wait 30 minutes before we were allowed to give it up and go home. We didn’t get curb service either. We had to walk to the bus stop at the end of the street where there wasn’t any shelter so we could fully appreciate the various stages of frost bite. I resented and envied boys’ sensible shoes and pants, but I wasn’t supposed to talk about that. This is the way life is. Be quiet. Quit asking questions about why that’s the way life is.

If I raised my hand in Sunday school, the teacher barely contained her exasperation, but “that’s the way it is” and “be quiet” didn’t answer my spiritual questions, the same way those kinds of answers in regular school didn’t advance my education. My evil, skinny grandmother punished me for beating my cousin in checkers. I suppose it didn’t help that he was several years older than me, or that it was 5 or 6 games in a row, but why shouldn’t I win the game if I could? “Let boys win!” “But why?” “That’s the way it is!”

I could come up with more moments of suppression, but I think you get the point. I’ll skip over the lingering resentments about being the oh-damn-it’s-another-girl in the family, just before the golden penis was born. Besides, most girls my age or older know the story anyway. A lot of women didn’t drive, work, or have the ability to do anything without the permission of men. If we really wanted some independence, we could be a teacher, secretary, or nurse. Otherwise, plan on getting married and using your body as a baby factory. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a good husband who won’t hit you and gives you trinkets every now and then.

The world changed as I was growing up. People started getting divorced. Women started working. People quit wearing hats to church. Life got psychedelic, then punk. Girls were now supposed to get a job, but some things hadn’t changed much. Some men felt threatened and took out their insecurities on women in their domain. I was told to “be quiet” by my female coworkers when I was upset a man kept sneaking behind me and grabbing me. “He’ll get tired of harassing you and start picking on someone else eventually.” The big boss wouldn’t reprimand the guy and I ended up threatening the offender with an X-Acto knife because I couldn’t concentrate on anything anymore. I felt betrayed by the women. Where was the solidarity? But women are often the hardest on other women. Get in line because that’s the way life is. Why? It just is.

Now, the world expects me to forget all of that stuff as ancient history. “Be quiet” isn’t acceptable anymore. “Get out there and sell yourself!” But sometimes that’s hard to do with decades of “be quiet” and “let boys win” programming, and the really annoying part of that piece of advice is that the boys didn’t even know we were letting them win. They actually thought they were better than the girls, which gave men the right to pay us less and pass us over for promotions, and since we were passed over, they can use our previous lowly positions as justification to pass us over again.

Don’t get me wrong, I like men, at least a lot of them. I just don’t like the chauvinism in society and sometimes struggle with my place in it. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my voice because I was told “be quiet” once, or maybe a thousand times too often. Besides, a lot of the people telling me to shut up were women: teachers, grandma, co-workers, etc. I felt furious with myself when I debated about whether or not to take a dive in Trivial Pursuits with a boyfriend. I was winning, but worried about his ego. He finally won fair and square, but I thought, what about my ego? I told him about my internal struggle, and he was upset I’d considered losing on purpose. Even though we’re the same age, by gender, we’ve lived in very separate universes. I compensated for my mental lapse by beating him at checkers. He didn’t like that either, but the world didn’t collapse. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a right to my own voice and it’s okay to win.


BTW, I really like looking at other artists’ layouts and works in progress, but I thought I’d show why I don’t show too many of them myself. Yeah, that’s fine art on a paper plate :) I thought about Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” idea first, which might’ve been a happier post? In any case, you can listen to it here. I think it’s interesting that he remade the song as the father. You can see that here.

27 comments:

  1. I like your illo. Sadly I think all women have a story that reflects very closely yours. I hope that some day girls, women will be prized as much as a penis seems to be by some people. I had a grandmother who would do anything for a her son and even grandsons, but her granddaughters were merely wallflowers in the scheme of things.

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  2. I feel lucky that within my family I never got that. My sister and I always had the perception that we could be or do what ever we decided to do.My sister is a VP at a University right now and I know that she will end up being a president at one in the future.
    It was a bit of a surprise to realize that not everyone thought the same.
    I know that there are some out there that still have the antiquated perception that males are better or deserve better. That really disturbs and infuriates me. I don't spend time or have much to do with anyone that thinks that way.
    It is okay to win and you should always do your best whether you are female or male.

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  3. Wow. That's quite a post. I think I was lucky growing up in that my parents didn't put any of that on me. They expected me to be smart. I had a little brother, and I have always thought that every boy should grow up with an older sister who was bigger, stronger, and smarter than him, just to avoid these kinds of feelings. But I DID let him win at ping pong and chess, because if he lost, he wouldn't play anymore.

    Now I'm a high school English teacher, and I'm glad to say that girls now are just as outspoken as the boys are. But this kind of feeling is probably still real. The "smart" girls don't have boys lining up to go out with them, but they do get the better boysfriends in the end, the ones who value them for who they are.

    The illustration is heart-breaking.

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  4. I'm glad that some girls got a more positive message growing up, and I do think girls today get a lot more of them than back in the day. Sometimes I think we've forgotten the boys in making up to the girls. Someday maybe everything will settle out and everyone can be happy? I'm hoping for it in any case. I'm glad we've progressed to the point of women as college presidents!

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  5. As a person who was a young boy, my life has always been devoted to the service of girls. They always appeared to be not only smarter but prettier than I (once I got past the "cooties" thing). Loved the inclusion of thumbnail here. Thanks

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  6. A couple of men have told me that they always thought that the women had all the power, Rand. It's interesting how it all changes with a matter of perspective, doesn't it? I always thought the men looked better. They didn't have to hide behind makeup and squish all their parts into unnatural places :)

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    1. Squishing parts into unnatural places is the reason some men have higher voices than others :)

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  7. Excellent illustration. Men in the workplace are assholes.

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  8. I was one of 3 girls and we were always told we could be anything we wanted. I never let the boys win - of course, I didn't play 'boy' games - I was too busy studying to be a ballet dancer. However, I had a grandmother who, with a high school education, sued the government and won so maybe it's in my genes!

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  9. Your illustration sure makes a statement. Excellent! Straight out of college, I went into advertising. There was a guy there who went to a lower-tiered college than I did. He didn't have any more experience than I did. But because I was a girl, they started me off in a secretarial position while he started off as an assistant account executive. There were no male secretaries, come to think of it. Miffed? A little, yes, but he was also my best friend there, so I couldn't hold it against him.

    Love your work in progress piece! Love it, love it!

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  10. I think things are a lot more balanced now, Linda.
    Women demanded equal rights and they got it, and rightly so. They demanded equal pay and they're getting it (at least in the industry I work in). Many of them are even displacing men in traditionally held male positions. I have quite a few female bosses and I like them.

    So why the hell am I still expected to pay while dating? ha ha.

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  11. just un petit bonjour de chez moi Linda , avec beaucoup de soleil

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  12. I feel fortunate to live in a society where equality has come pretty far, but still there is a lot of old fashion ideas and suppression left to deal with. Chauvinism is just so hard to get rid of, it's like a disease that won't let go of its grip. I believe most people that are stuck in old ways of thinking and holding others back, too, do it out of insecurity and because the feel threatened.

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  13. I remember wearing knee socks and freezing in the cold as I walked to school as a little girl! I actually like that you showed your process, it's a lot like mine! :) It makes the illustration that so much outstanding! Happy week, friend!

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  14. Thanks for the comments everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday. I absolutely agree with Otto that chauvinism is based in insecurities, but I think the world will be a better place when everyone can contribute their part without getting suppressed. Adding the layout was an afterthought, and I'm so glad you liked it!

    Like Clara said, wish everyone a little sunshine!

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  15. To Ted’s thought that the world is getting more even in pay, here is a site with stats and charts http://www.womensmedia.com/new/Lips-Hilary-gender-wage-gap.shtml. Women have a long ways to go to catch up, and in fact, is getting worse based on US census records http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/censusandstatistics/a/paygapgrows.htm . Ted will still have to pay on his dates  In addition, sexual harassment at work is still pervasive http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/01/28/sexual-harassment-in-the-workplace/. We have a long ways still to go for our perfect society.

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  16. Well, I guess I'm talking about the animation industry in which I work. I know for a fact that there is no difference in what we pay freelancers based on gender. And all in-house artists salaries are monitored by human resources, which in this studio are two women.
    As for sexual harassment, it's non existent at the artist level. Everyone is just too scared anymore. We all treat each other very carefully. Not sure about the executive level.
    Obviously, men's perceptions are different than womens; I was slapped on the ass by a woman at work back in the '90s and I liked it. ha ha.

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  17. I'm glad you haven't got these problems where you work Ted. I think artists in general tend to be more open-minded and have more respect for each other than in many other professions.

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  18. Such a strong message in this illustration! Too bad that it is still an item, in some countries more than others.

    (you mentioned you love WIP's. I have some WIP's in the right column of my blog with a weekly update)

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  19. Great post, Linda! (Thank God for exacto knives! Wow!)Have experienced chauvanism in the workplace over the years for sure! But I'm told one of my "problems" is I've never managed to keep my mouth shut, despite admonishment! Great illustration. So much emotion in her eyes! And I LOVE the paper plate!!!

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  20. Wow, Linda. Leaving me with lots to reflect on. A quietly beautiful, powerful image. Thanks for posting.

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  21. Thanks! Maybe I should add more paper plate drawings in the future? So glad I could say something that cause other people to reflect :)

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  22. I always really enjoy reading your posts Linda, loved this one too, and your illustration has real impact, great image.

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  23. You said a mouthful with this very striking image, Linda! I love reading your posts - you tell it like it is..and how the golden ----- arrived and all..I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to deal with hearing this over and over again. It is a bummer that you personally had heard it over and over again..but it's awesome that you're able to voice whatever you wish without too much worry, right?!

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  24. Still a hot topic - I think. I haven't seen corporate life since 1994 when I decided to become a kept woman. lol And, I don't watch the late night soaps, so my education on this matter (stats, etc.) come from the news and news shows that I have a slight addiction to.

    What I do pick up from other stay-at-home moms and 9 to 5 women in my activities outside of wifedom and momdom, is that equality on the whole is 'not' just around the corner. A lot of women think we are, but I believe they do because we tend to be more flexible and adaptable; which results in accepting things and adjusting; not getting mad enough.

    Life is an ongoing education for all of us. If we keep learning and correcting, we "should" improve? Hmmm...

    Oh, I totally understand your post.

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