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Guerrilla Welfare 

Funny feminist activists in gorilla masks, pushing buttons

Wednesday, Oct 8 2003
"Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" is possibly the most famous question posed by the Guerrilla Girls. But this group of funny feminist activists is notorious not just for the above-mentioned 1989 sticker, but also for a slew of other antics. For example, the Girls invented the Anatomically Correct Oscar, a hilarious white male figure, old and pudgy, "Just like the guys who win!" giggled the text. The statuette even had a really small wee-wee. This image appeared in billboard form at the corner of Melrose and Highland in L.A., a few blocks from the Academy Awards ceremony of 2002. It included handy information, too, like, "Best Director has never been awarded to a woman." Most recently, the group has written a book, called Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes. It is, unsurprisingly, really funny.

Started by several disgruntled women artists in 1985, the Guerrilla Girls are anonymous, appearing in public wearing gorilla masks and using the names of dead female artists ("Käthe Kollwitz" and "Frida Kahlo" have been in it since the beginning). They hide their faces and their names, they've explained, to keep attention focused on the issues they raise and not on who they are.

So group members are already familiar with breaking stereotypes. One day, they claim on their Web site, they were sitting around their secret clubhouse when they started making a list of stereotypes of women. They came up with enough to fill a book. Gold Digger, Trophy Wife, Feminazi, Biker Chick -- the good, the bad, and the worse are examined and mostly dismissed in Bitches. But before it gets too serious, the authors present several pages of "our own ethnic doll collection," which includes Sallie Mae, White Trailer Trash, and Madame X, Dragon Lady. All of them push labels to their ridiculous limits -- the Guerrilla Girls strike again.

About The Author

Hiya Swanhuyser


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