What’s a Woman to Do?

Ask any person on the street to name a famous painter, and they’ll likely say Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Monet, etc.  Ask that same person to name a famous composer, and you’ll hear names like Mozart or Bach or Beethoven. According to statistics for 2014, male actors still out earned female actors in Hollywood.  If you can see where I’m going with this, you may be tempted to stop reading right now, but don’t worry, this is not a feminist rant. It’s a call for consideration.

After all, for many of the past centuries, women were either not allowed to participate openly in the arts or were overshadowed by their male counterparts. You could argue that we’ve come a long way. You could also argue that the arts are currently more open to women than some professions. All of that is great, but how can we make sure that women and girls continue to advance?

Ask any female in the arts why they think women still have trouble gaining respect, recognition, and equal compensation as men, and you’ll hear familiar opinions: that women still carry too much of the burden in the home life to allow time for their work; that the themes in women’s works are often considered too “soft”; that women are still judged more harshly than men for everything from the quality of their work to the way they dress; that women are too “generous” to treat their art as a business, too inclined to “give it away.”

But there’s hope, at least in my world, which is writing and publishing. Of the fifteen highest-grossing writers in the year 2014, six were women. That’s still a lopsided equation, but if you take a look at the names on the list, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer, you see women who have taken control of their own destinies and their own empires.

I guess what I’m arguing is that women artists are business owners, and as such need to get more savvy in the ways of business; need to seek out more support at home to allow them to focus on growing their careers without neglecting their families; need to hire good people to move their ventures forward; need to stop apologizing for charging what they are worth; need to get out there and toot their own horns.

This is one of those times you may wish I allowed comments on my blog. But I don’t want you to type your first hair-trigger reaction to my musings. I want you to think about it, for days maybe, and continue to ask yourself how we can turn the tables so that when you say, “Name a famous artist,” it may be a woman’s name that comes to mind.


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