Woman Making History #38: Guerrilla Girls


Guerilla Girl with fistEstablished in New York City in 1984, the Guerilla Girls are an underground group of female artists/feminist activists. They dress up in gorilla masks when they make public appearances, and are known by the names of dead female artists.

Most of the Guerilla Girls' most noted actions have come in the form of art projects themselves--they have created posters, stickers, etc. denouncing the male-centricism of art and media. One of their most famous posters, which was shown for a while on New York City buses, asked "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" The poster went on to state that less than 5% of the artists represented in the Met's modern art section were female, but 85% of the nudes were women.

The Guerilla Girls have also authored several books, including Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers: The Guerilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes and The Guerilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. Their books, like their posters and actions, call into question the male-centricism of the modern art world and art history, as well as speaking out against misogyny in other aspects of life. The Guerrilla Girls also put out a quarterly newsletter, "Hot Flashes," funded for some time by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Currently, the Guerrilla Girls consists of three separate organizations. The first, Guerrilla Girls, Inc., continues the original mission of the group, using provocative posters and stickers, as well as published books, traveling lectures, and the web page www.guerrillagirls.com, to insert much-needed feminism into the worlds of art and media. The second, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, Inc., is a touring theater collective, performing plays and street theater actions dramatizing women's history and questioning the sexism and racism of the art and theater worlds. The final group, GuerrillaGirlsBroadband, Inc. (also called "The Broads"), fights many of the same battles as the first two groups, but focuses more on younger women, women of color, and work place issues. Their main tool is their website, www.ggbb.org.

Guerilla Girls
The New Yorker

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