“MEN DON’T PROTECT YOU ANYMORE” is the statement on a large electronic sign that greets you as soon as you walk into The Whitney Museum at its gorgeous new location in NYC’s meatpacking district. The sign, hanging above the ticket purchasing area, is one of many statements done in LED lights by American feminist conceptual artist Jenny Holzer.
This message can, of course, be interpreted in multiple ways. Here at Chez Jane, we see it as a reminder that women’s liberation comes, at least in theory, with new risks and new responsibilities for self-protection. While some women have resisted feminism precisely because they preferred the old patriarchal bargain that promised women some protection from poverty and men’s brutality, that bargain was kept intermittently at best, and often with serious strings attached. Feminists have always hoped that women could, individually and collectively, challenge the system that made economic survival and physical safety conditional on patriarchy.
Jenny Holzer’s electronic sculptures, projected statements, and her texts printed on Tshirts, electronic signs, and billboards are famous for their power, their insights, their sensitivity, and their willingness to traverse public and private, body politic and body. Holzer’s narrative statements render the invisible visible, voicing what we might be thinking in silence. Holzer makes up her own statements, but more recently has worked with texts written by others. Sure, these texts are often from literary greats or declassified military documents, but we can’t help hoping that our own statements become Holzerisms in LED lights:
WHY ARE YOU WAITING FOR A BYSTANDER TO SAVE YOU?
SEXUAL LIBERATION COMES WITH THE NEED FOR SELF-DEFENSE
FIGHT THEM OFF
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE MY OWN BYSTANDER
MY RESISTANCE DOESN’T REQUIRE YOUR APPROVAL
I AM THE ONE WHO CHOOSES MY BOUNDARIES
MY RESISTANCE CHANGES THE RAPE CULTURE
ONLY I MAKE MY SEXUAL CHOICES
SEE JANE FIGHT BACK; SEE DICK RUN
If Jenny Holzer ignores these Jane-generated #Holzerisms, we will settle for dominating the feminist fortune cookie industry.
And really, if any of you would like Jane’s printable feminist fortunes with our favorite recipe for homemade fortune cookies, just say the word and it’ll be our next blog post.