by Sarah Rose Gregory
What changes would you still like to see?
As a feminist my desired changes have always pointed to improving the wellbeing of men as well as women. This means that we enable parents to have rewarding jobs and raise fulfilled children. So, we must continue to do all we can to pay our taxes that maintain our crucial social welfare state, our social services and voluntary organisations that are there when we need them, whatever our class, colour or gender.
How can we challenge the distortion of the fixed narrative around history, race and sex/gender?
Well, thank goodness, unlike religious dogma, historical narratives are not fixed. In my lifetime I have seen historical narratives around race and gender utterly transformed. If we maintain a good education system for all then inquisitive people, who may be historians, can research and write new corrective narratives from different subject positions. Enlightenment is a fine endeavour!
What role can art play?
Art is an expression of freedom and pleasure - as a statement about our human condition, with creative skill and imagination, art can educate us about who we are.
How can we - a community of women - bypass the system and make change happen?
To challenge discrimination - misogyny and sexism - I have always believed that different communities of women must work to improve their particular conditions outside the system. BUT, the past has given us wonderful, enduring systems and institutions and I’d like to think that many women will continue to roll up their sleeves to do the gruelling hard work inside the established systems to improve them. An outside and inside two-pronged attack!
A bastion of counterculture, Caroline Coon is an artist, journalist and political activist. Her art has been at the vanguard of cultural movements that have caused storms of social change since the 1960s. Caroline has both fought for and led change, refusing to bow to cultural norms, familial and class expectations.
Coon challenged taboos with paintings like 'My Beautiful Cunt' (1966) in which she addressed societal norms and the ‘pathological hatred and fear of the female genitalia.’
A provocateur, Coon has never stayed on the sidelines screaming about injustice; she has taken action. Caroline set up Release, a drug advice and support agency - a direct response to the growing number of young people being arrested and/or imprisoned under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965. She published ‘Know Your Rights’ bust cards, later updated as Stop and Search procedures for young victims of police policies.
Caroline took up space in areas dominated by men. She managed the Clash for two years, documented the punk rock scene for papers like The Melody Maker, and provided bands like The Police with art work for their sleeve covers.
Today, she paints every day in her London studio.