Surangama Datta - Rebel Sexualities: (Feminist) Ways of Seeing Desire in Early Women's Comix
02/07/2020 11:00 Room 2 #rebgis
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If the 1970s American feminist underground comix are known for radical, rebellious art, one of their most significant interventions come in the form of their alternative visualizations of female sexuality. Most poignantly visible within the works of comics artists like Aline Kominsky-Crumb, these texts offer new ways of (feminist) seeing that challenge pre-existing comics conventions of representation. If mainstream comics viewed women’s bodies and sexuality through an objectifying gaze, these works, satirical, bold and avant garde, offer resistance by intertwining aesthetic interventions with radical feminist visions of sexuality that are both satirical and revolutionary. Yet, women’s underground comix have received limited critical attention within the field of comics studies. Most studies on underground artists, such as Patrick Rosenkranz’s Rebel Visions (2002), Charles Hatfield’s Alternative Comics (2005), and Michael Chaney’s Graphic Subjects (2011), among many others, focus on the contributions of male writers such as Robert Crumb, Howard Cruse and Art Spiegelman. Although recent interventions have come in the form of Hillary Chute’s Graphic Women (2010), Why Comics? (2017) and Tahseen Oksman’s How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses? (2016), a detailed study of specific interventions within these comics is pending.
In my paper, then, I will interrogate a significant comic strip, Kominsky-Crumb's 'Goldie: A Neurotic Woman', appearing in Wimmen's Comix #1 and pose some of the following questions: in what ways do texts like these challenge conventional ideas of female sexuality? What alternative visions of sexuality, and fresh ways of seeing, do they offer? How do these texts interact with the larger developments within feminist thought during this period and complicate our reading of feminisms? What are some of their key artistic interventions?