the eighties


The 1980’s begin by saying farewell to John Lennon and introducing the world to the AIDS virus. The decade also welcomes computers and the reign of Madonna. The beginning of the 1980’s also marked the end of second-wave feminism. The passion and fires that burned through patriarchal ideologies in the 60’s and 70’s deviated inwards pinning feminists against other groups of feminists. However, the movement was cemented going as far as The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms enacted by the Canada Act of 1982, declareing (among other things), “15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability….28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”

The third-wave of feminism would not ripen until the early 1990’s, but we had the formation of the Guerilla Girls carry us through the 1980’s. Their objective was to disrupt contemporary art culture, confront art institutions and demand explanations for the prevailing sexism and racism barring female artists from experiencing success comparable to their male counterparts.