Female artists speak up and make an impact in 2017

Bridget Higdon, Assistant Arts Editor

I bought my hardcover copy of Virginia Woolf’s essay “A Room of One’s Own” in the basement of a New York City bookstore almost three years ago. It now sits on my desk in my dorm room.

I have revisited her words on the need for women to build creative spaces of their own often in the past few months. Everyday it seems as if another woman has shared her story of sexual harassment in the arts and entertainment industry.

“It is fairly evident that even in the nineteenth century a woman was not encouraged to be an artist,” Woolf writes. “On the contrary, she was snubbed, slapped, lectured and exhorted.”

Although things have changed since the time she put pen to page, there is still much progress to be made.

Seven women who had been sexually assaulted by movie executive Harvey Weinstein shared their stories in an Oct. 10 New Yorker article.

These women have since inspired others to come forward and share other stories of sexual misconduct.

Comedian Louis C.K., Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine, playwright Israel Horovitz and New York City Ballet director Peter Martins, are among the many who have also recently been accused.

Most of these high-profile men have either lost their jobs or been investigated.

Although this upheaval is a triumph, the narrative is still skewed.

“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself,” Woolf wrote.

The mainstream media has made the male perpetrators the main characters in the narrative of sexual misconduct. Many have forgotten that the outspoken women are the real heroines of this dark chapter in American history.

The bravery of these women will hopefully begin to bring about real change when it comes to the sexual misconduct that has been occurring in the workplace for centuries.

But a revolution is also already happening. The number of women who have made strides and earned achievements in the arts and entertainment industry this year is extensive.

“Wonder Woman,” which was directed by a woman, became the highest-grossing superhero origin film of all time, according to a Nov. 2 Forbes article.

Emily Wilson, a renowned classics scholar, became the first woman to translate Homer’s historic epic poem, the “Odyssey,” according to a New York Times article published Nov. 2.

Photographer Mihaela Noroc traveled the world to compile 500 portraits of women for her book “The Atlas of Beauty,” and Kenyan artist Kawira Mwirichia defied laws to create an art exhibit honoring LGBTQ love, according to their individual websites.

This is just the beginning of the list. Women have turned 2017 around, despite it beginning with a tape suggesting that the president of the United States had committed sexual assault.

Women are seating themselves on stage, in director’s chairs, in art galleries and other creative spaces, making Woolf proud.