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Rhapsodica's picture

The Dinner Party

When I first walked into this class, I was a little thrown off. As a freshman, this was literally the third Bryn Mawr class I'd set foot in, and it was by far the most disorienting (though now, I realize that it was disorienting in a good way). I didn't really say anything in class since I was a little nervous and sniffly (getting a cold the first week of school is not an experience I recommend), so I'm glad that we have this forum as a secondary place to share our thoughts.

When I first looked at Sojourner Truth's dinner plate, I was struck by how trapped the faces seem to be. As someone else in the class observed, I saw the mask-like face in the center as a sort of head-scarf, rather than another image simply behind or in front of the other two faces. Perhaps while Sojourner Truth (or any African American woman of the time period) seemed to portray a sort of resigned sadness about her status to the outside world (the sort of feeling I get from the face on the left), her inner feelings were more like those expressed by the face on the right... angry and warrior-like. Yet because of the discrimination & oppression during that time, she had to figuratively hide that side of herself under the head-scarf... which, to me, is perhaps representative of the black-and-white images that others perceived when they saw her. Well, that's just my interpretation of it, anyway.

Another thing that I thought about is how Judy Chicago's Dinner Party is supposed to be this representation of the second wave of feminism (which we talked about in class as the era concerned with the female body/sexuality... so its connection with the piece of art itself is pretty obvious), yet this one plate seems to be a little behind in terms of the issues it addresses. I think it definitely reflects inequality between the representation of races & how, perhaps, views about women of color were not quite up to speed with views about white women... or maybe, that some other constraint (overt or implicit) was preventing her equal representation in The Dinner Party. Like.. hmm... I'm not sure how to word this, but... perhaps there is perceived to be a certain duty to remember & represent the struggles that women of color have been through, so progress, at least in the realm of feminist views, was almost impeded because the issue of racial equality & representation calls for so much emphasis. So instead of showing a vagina at Sojourner Truth's place setting, there is an image that more strongly represents her inner struggles as a woman of color, rather than just as a woman in general.

... hopefully that makes at least a little bit of sense. I look forward to seeing where discussion leads us in class tomorrow!

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