Nasty Grrrl Baby (2016)

Niki Singleton
November 5, 2016

I think most people living in the United States are incredibly sick of this never-ending election season. The sickening, overt misogyny we are subjected to on a regular basis, which is perpetuated through the media, is particularly troubling. Why in 2016 do we have a presidential candidate that wants to upend hard won abortion rights, has been caught on tape talking about women like they are stupid sexual objects, and who debates an overqualified female presidential candidate by calling her a “Nasty Woman?” Fundamental women’s rights in Europe and the states have been under attack by conservative government forces in the years since the War on Terror brought economic crisis and destabilization. What is it about a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body that frightens patriarchal systems so much?

According to UNWOMEN.ORG, one in three women experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner. They also note that women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners are more than twice as likely to have an abortion and experience depression. In some regions, women are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, compared to women who have not experienced [intimate] partner violence. Worldwide, fifteen percent of women die from pursuing unsafe abortions, meaning those anti-abortion laws that claim to protect the mother and child are actually killing them.

I know people reading this might say to themselves, “Women have always been the victims of male violence,” but this argument doesn’t make it right; we must be careful not to normalize violence.
Recently, women in Poland took to the streets when their conservative government with strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church tried to ban abortions in all cases including rape, and imposed prison sentences of up to five years on women and doctors involved in terminating pregnancies. Thousands marched in Ireland to lift the country’s abortion ban that currently permits abortion only if the life of the mother is at risk. This is one of the most restrictive abortion policies in the world! In Saudi Arabia, thousands of women stormed the King’s office demanding basic freedoms and an end to the male guardianship system, which requires women get permission from a male relative to access healthcare, travel abroad, get married, leave prison, and to do just about anything in society. In March 2015, hundreds protested the horrific murder of a 27-year-old woman by a mob in Kabul, Afghanistan. A group of men set her on fire, threw her from a roof, and ran her over with a car because another man wrongly accused her of burning a Qur’an. Thousands of people rose up in Argentina in 2015 after the murder of a 14-year-old girl who was pregnant by her 16-year-old boyfriend. The boy beat the girl to death after he and his mother forced her to take medication to terminate the pregnancy. NGOs in the country have calculated that a woman is killed every 30 hours because of gender violence.

I know people reading this might say to themselves, “Women have always been the victims of male violence,” but this argument doesn’t make it right; we must be careful not to normalize violence. Women aren’t having it anymore, and recent protests around the world have been such an inspiration. The more we fight against oppression, the more legislation gets passed, criminals get prosecuted, etc. I made Nasty Grrrl Baby in honor of all the women heroes who are standing up globally — often in perilous environments — to the powerful forces that seek to subjugate them.

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Niki Singleton

Niki Singleton is a Canadian drawer, painter, and found material sculptor based in Brooklyn. Visit her website to learn more.

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