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Houston Breakthrough, February 1980
Page 20
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Houston Breakthrough, February 1980 - Page 20. February 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. March 27, 2015. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/360.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1980). Houston Breakthrough, February 1980 - Page 20. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/360

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, February 1980 - Page 20, February 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed March 27, 2015, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/360.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, February 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Texas
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 32 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Page 20
File Name femin_201109_557at.jpg
Transcript non wrote as the introduction to the brochure. He wrote "The Dinner Party is a grand and noble showing forth of contributions of women from our collective mythical past to the present day. The work carries us forward towards the time when Eden is again, when the divided merge and become whole. Born in the past, it urges us toward the future of human reconciliation through an apocalyptic vision of a world healed, perfected, and made one again." Now that's a man who's claiming information and the images in The Dinner Party as part of our human, collective wealth. That's what I want men to take away. NLF:That women's experience is not only an appropriate basis for art, but it is something that men should be interested in? J.C.: The degree to which a man cannot accept The Dinner Party as part of our human heritage is the degree to which that man is still involved in thinking that his experience is more important than women's, that his experience is concurrent with the human experience and that somehow women's experience is less than that. But our experience illuminates something of the universal experience, is half of it, is part of it. Until we have integrated both men's and women's experience into a whole picture we are only seeing half of reality. I'd like a moratorium on men's culture for about a hundred years until they catch up-then we might be even with them, knowing as much about us as we know about them. Then we can start over again. DB: I wanted to ask you about your vision for the next 100 years because Nancy and I were debating this before the show. I had a strong feeling in reading The Dinner Party book that your vision is very much feminine and maybe I missed it, because what you are saying here is that we have been so unbalanced that we need to tip the scales back the other way. Is that more of what you're saying, more than moving toward feminine dominated or matriarchal? JC:Oh, I am not interested in anyone dominating anybody on any level. I don't even like human beings dominating dolphins. I find that incredibly horrendous. I can't stand watching one of those giant drills dominating and plunging into the earth. I just find the whole structure of domination on the planet abhorrent, impossible, horrible on any level. I don't want to be dominant over anybody. In the first place I think it's an incredibly corrosive experience to one's own self. NLF: But the impression I have is that you were definitely the leader in The Dinner Party project, in this large collective of people who were working in this cooperative effort. You had esthetic control and it was your vision. What is the difference between leadership and dominance? JC: I think it is an interesting issue. That is one of the things I try to deal with not only in The Dinner Party but in teaching generally. All of the feminist programs through the last decade were how to be, by example, a different kind of leader, a non-dominant, a non-authoritarian leader, how to re-define leadership so that it does not imply power over anybody but rather implies the sharing of my vision, the sharing of my space, the sharing of my concerns and the invitation to other people to participate, in the hopes that they will freely choose to do so, but without any coercion and without even the rewards that exist in the mainstream culture, that coerce people into participating in things that they may not even believe in because they get rewarded for it by money or status. There was not even that kind of coercion. So that is what's so funny about all the accusations about my being authoritarian, because the whole structure that I built has been built on trying to provide space for myself and other people. DB: And yet you say in one part of The Dinner Party book that as one person grows, he or she begins to take up more space and that by its very definition is revolutionary in that sometimes they begin to occupy the space occupied heretofore by somebody else. JC: No, no, no. See, that implies that there is only so much space. DB: Space isn't finite? JC: Conflict takes place in growth so you see it is not smooth but I don't see space as finite. I see that the space that I and the people who work with me, particularly my colleagues, occupy is the space where we are concentrating on trying to change certain things in the world, to transform the world. There is a lot of space and there is a lot of people, so there is hardly any competition with these millions of people running down the street wanting to change the world. NLF: What about the work situation? Do you think this kind of community situation that you had is the best for a woman artist? You've talked and written so much about what it is like to be isolated in a male-dominated art world. Something is going to go wrong. I feel very strongly about that which doesn't mean that if a woman feels she has to go through that and find out for herself, I wouldn't support her in it. I would support her. NLF: You're talking about the external obstacles that women find related to creativity. What about the internal obstacles? Could you share some of your observations? JC: If you look at history and if you study the lives of people who have made substantial change these are people who really understood the political, economic, and social structure of ate, by teaching. We need leaders to help us change. Because there's a whole period when we work together collectively. That's a real important stage which is going beyond where you're at and for that you have to have somebody who is beyond. And what we've done to our women who are beyond is we have hurt them and punished them, as opposed to turning to them and honoring them. As my colleague and former student, Faith Wiley said: We have not come up with our own reward system. We have to come up with a reward system that can substitute a way to honor our women who have China painting the names on the Heritage Floor. JC: I don't think there is any one way for anything. I don't think there is any right way. Structures need to evolve from people and people's needs. Now we are confronting a series of structures and institutions that have nothing to do with people's needs and are totally unresponsive to them, as exemplified by museums refusing to show The Dinner Party even though there is a huge audience. They don't give a shit and they don't have to-they don't have to be responsible to people's needs. The oil companies get to do anything they want. They don't have to be responsible to how many people are being exploited by what they do or how the air is getting polluted. So I don't think that everybody should do anything. I think people need space to be able to find out, discover, what they need and then build what will give them what they need. I think that the cooperative way that we worked with leadership is one mode of working, of operating. Collectives are another mode. Sometimes people need to be alone and isolated and work alone. However, I certainly feel for myself that I do not want to go back and will not probably go back to working in an isolated situation-not just because it is not good for women, I don't think it is good for artists. That's a post-industrial revolution development. It never happened before. I mean artisans worked in convents and monasteries together. Artists worked in ateliers together. That's a whole post-industrial revolution phenomenon and it has been very, very destructive to women, because when a male artist works in his studio alone he works against the background of a support system. When a female artist works in her studio altyie, she's really alone. There is no support system to take her work into the world. So I think it is very self-defeating for a woman artist to use the male model, it just isn't going to work for her. the society and how to address it, how to deal with it. These are people that have spent their lives preparing themselves to be able not only to function in the world, but to be able to conceive of alternatives and figure out how to make that happen. It's like the women in the library, sitting there reading books about men and not thinking about it. I'll go on the campus and I'll see women wearing slit skirts and high heels and I just go berserk. I think to myself, at what point do we have to say we have some responsibility in our own oppression. At what point do we have to say: is this slit skirt going to make me be taken seriously or is it going to say to somebody: you really don't have to worry about me after all because I'm really not so serious. And these high heels-you can't run if something happens to you. At what point are we going to say, I don't want to read about men anymore. I want to read about women and if they're not there I'm going to find the books. These are the ways in which we are ourselves accomplices in our own oppression. That's the degree to which they have not confronted themselves or they have not said: I insist upon being taken seriously, I insist on thinking. It's not just men; it's our own desire not to take responsibility for ourselves. NLF: But Judy, isn't it hard when the rewards are there for doing those things? JC: Yes, it's hard; yes, it's hard! Life is hard! and what we're prepared for by the way we're brought up is that life should be soft and easy and life is not easy, it's not easy for anyone. NLF: So, what do we need to do in order to learn to work, in order to not turn away from our own abilities? JC: That's one of the reasons we need leadership. We need women who are models, who know how to work, either by example, which is the best way I operate, or as other women oper- given to us, and our leaders who can help us. We have to find ways to reward them so that it will not be tempting to be rewarded in the old ways. NLF: Is this bringing us back to The Dinner Party? I mean, this is one way of rewarding: some of the women honored at the dinner party are still living. Most of them are not but do you think through just the process of honoring these women, and realizing that there are women to be honored, that we may gain something? JC: Since the beginning, there are so many women in our own communities to honor. The women who have fought in the colleges for women's studies, the women who have fought in professions to open them up, the women who we can claim as role models. But it's not something we've done yet. The women professors on campus-l know a lot of them who still get trashed by their female students. NLF: But isn't there some validity in the notion that there's so few crumbs to go around that keep women fighting against one another. That there's so few rewards. That there's so few top jobs or so few top honors. JC: Hell yeah. That's what I meant. That's exactly why we have to come up with a new reward system. Whether it's every week, finding an older woman in our own community and taking her out to dinner, a woman who's worked alone and been isolated, telling her that she meant something to us. I mean we have to invent a new reward system because we can't give, like Faith said to me, we can't give you the money and the honor. We can't get you into the Museum of Modern Art. We can't do those things that are the traditional things that you would expect if you were a man. We can't do that for you-we gotta come up with other ways to give to you. NLF: You're talking about replacing some- HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 20 FEBRUARY 1980