In 2014 I wrote about a visit to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. In that exhibition was a nude portrait of Dr Victoria N. Bateman and four years on I did wonder if she regretted allowing the painting to be displayed.
So I did a little research and found that she was not. On her website she explains that since then she has been more active rather than less. One factual error I made back in 2014 was to say that the painting was not quite life size when in fact it is. (Which must mean that she isn’t a very imposing figure to be able to fill up a whole room if you met her in real life.)
Following her on social media this was posted the other day:
At my #Cambridge College’s end of term supervisor dinner tonight wearing feminist fashion by @theuniformtalks #JennaYoung – with some added marker pen! Cambridge supports #MyBodyMyChoice. Do you? #feminism #liberty #DeedsNotWords pic.twitter.com/JWZuxWQdn6
— Victoria Bateman (@vnbateman) June 12, 2018
The reaction to it was a red rag to a bull. Misogynist comments was the usual fair and I joined the conversation whenever there was a clear contradiction to their arguments. But there were some of comments that kept bugging me. How does this advance feminism? How does this solve problems that effect women around the world?
The short answer is that it doesn’t. It would be ridiculous to argue that a single tweet from an individual would be so earth shattering that the world begins to spin in a different direction. However, what it does do is to open up the mind to fresh ideas and opinions. If your understanding is an adamant belief that the world is flat why would you go and explore to see if it is not.
Back in 2014 I made the comparison of the portrait of Dr Victoria N. Bateman with a formal portrait that looked like it had been commissioned by a university. Now that I think about it, the juxtaposition of the two images says to me that you don’t have to look like that formal portrait to be part of an elite university.
If all this encourages everyone to challenge their own understanding and to see what other options are out there then maybe we might be able to solve some of the other bigger problems.