Artist Nikki Luna debunks misconceptions about feminism
Lessons on feminism with artist Nikki Luna
It is the artist’s duty to remind. And Nikki Luna has been diligent about it, from pulping confidential material into blank pages to painting her resin installation blood-red. Female victory, oppression, and social phantoms that haunt women take new form in her hands. Provoking vivid recollection isn’t simply the aftermath; it’s the point every time.
After a series of local and international exhibitions, Luna is now taking part in the recall through her research-based artist fellowship granted by the Asian Cultural Council. The RED March 2017 cover woman is currently based in New York, from where she dispatched her thoughts on feminism and the society back here at home.
What are five common myths about feminists?
That feminists hate men. Feminism is not against men, but we are against the patriarchy.
Another one is that feminists can’t be mothers or housewives. There is also the problem of society equating womanhood to motherhood. We must remember that motherhood is not every woman’s destiny.
It’s also a myth that feminists don’t like makeup or practicing self-care. Taking care of her appearance is a choice a woman should have. It only becomes a problem when society demands unattainable “beauty standards” and makes choices for women regarding what they can and cannot wear.
Fourth, that feminists are lesbians—as if there is anything wrong with being one.
Finally, that feminism is only for women. A feminist can be anyone, from different nationalities, ages, genders, etc. If you believe in respecting and valuing girls and women [by giving them] equal footing in society, then you can be a feminist.
What three things do you wish the Philippines had?
First, that reproductive health care is actually properly implemented. It will make a huge difference to have accessible, safe, and reliable healthcare services, from pre-natal to birth to post-natal maternal and infant care, especially for the marginalized. Second, a higher degree of equality for women. Third, peace talks. This is crucial, since in the Philippines, there are more people living in poverty. There’s a need to develop our rural economy and look into how policies and laws continue to oppress the poor.
Who are the women you look up to?
My University of the Philippines professors in women and development studies: Sylvia Claudio, Judy Taguiwalo, and Nathalie Verceles. The tres marias: Glenda Gloria, Lilibeth Fondroso, and Maria Ressa. Patti Smith for her music and her art, and how grounded she is. Judy Chicago’s passion for feminist art is truly inspiring. •