Now no one can look away
Women’s reproductive rights seem to be of particular concern to our elected representatives. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, for example, said of a woman’s right to choose, “You’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but (also to be) able to sell that fetal tissue.” Or when Missouri Rep. Todd Akin told KTIV-TV that pregnancies caused by rape are rare because the body has a way to “try to shut that whole thing down.” And, of course, there’s this photo of President Donald Trump surrounded by five male colleagues signing anti-abortion legislation.
Trump signing anti-abortion gag rule surrounded by men
Beyond a few stellar political leaders like California Rep. Barbara Lee, newly elected California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal standing up for women’s rights, artists Zoe Buckman and Natalie Frank are taking a stand with their project, “We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident,” a 30-foot mural highlighting the ignorance and vitriol around women’s reproductive rights.
Buckman and Frank collected real quotes from male politicians that were said regarding women and their bodies and put them up on a wall for us to see. In seeing them put so audaciously, the artists hope to show the “cumulative effects of negativity, hate, and the abandonment of science that has completely bewildered us,” Buckman told Vice.
We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident. Vice
However, the mural goes beyond showing how brazenly shame gets used as a political tactic. It also shows how the people most concerned with women’s bodies are the most unconcerned about actual science.
“There's a real lack of basic understanding of the female body and the reproductive system,” Buckman says. “We wanted to find a way to make a statement that's not just arresting, but also hopefully quite exciting and aesthetic because beauty and art is our currency.”
We Hold These Truths To Be Self Evident
The title, Buckman explains, stems from Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” speech from the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. The mural also combines old boys’club imagery (or “locker room talk,” according to President Donald Trump) by placing the quotes against a backdrop of old, white men sitting around a table and the addition of an odalisque—often depicted as a “slave or concubine”—above the mantle.
In case you think that only Republican names are featured, fear not. Statements made by Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Ted Kennedy also found their way onto the wall.
For Buckman, though, this is about responsibility. “Particularly in the way we raise our children,” she notes. “I am incredibly concerned right now about the messages the next generation is going to grow up to receive.”