Every day I read about another attack on women's health and reproductive rights which unfortunately reminds me of a famous oil painting, "Susanna and the Elders". In 1610, a 17 year old Italian girl, Artemisia Gentileschi, painted the bible tale of Susanna, a virtuous young woman sexually stalked and harassed by the elders of her community. Unlike the male artists of her time who painted Susanna meek and coy, Artemisia painted her as vulnerable yet resisting their judging commands. The painter herself was sexually abused and raped by her elder male art teacher and remarkably, with the help of her parents, had the courage to take him to court. Her elder, the rapist, was acquitted. She went on to become a famous artist.
This story inspired me to paint "The Elders Are At It Again", as the cultural attitude toward women seems not to have changed much. In 2011 alone, state legislatures across the U.S. introduced 1100 provisions restricting women's health and reproductive rights. Bills that will devastate reproductive health care in 25 states have been introduced or passed so far this year. Is there really freedom when millions of women are being violated or having their rights restricted? Could it be that zealous politicians find it easier to control women’s bodies than to create jobs for all? Susanna's HIStory tale is so old. Isn’t it time we all get up in arms about gender equality and get involved to write a new story?