This painting came out of an obituary I read a couple of months ago. The obit was written about a woman, Patricia McCormick, from Texas, who had led a very unconventional life. As I read about Ms. McCormick, I was filled with a familiar tension that comes often as I hear feminists argue to push women into high-level corporate positions of power or queer activists argue for gays in the military. On one level, a knee-jerk egalitarianism directs that all economic options should be equally accessible. And still killing people and/or manipulating and exploiting others for money is always morally reprehensible- whether done by males or females. And so, torturing animals for any reason being an abomination- it seems a deluded goal to aim at for a feminist.
As I’m sure you are aware, no matter how dangerous the ring may or may not be for the toreros- it is always fatal for the bull. So it was indescribably sad to me that this woman (very independent, and after retiring from animal torture, an artists and unconventional woman at a time where there was little cultural support for that) would choose to injure and kill an animal, in order to challenge male supremacy in a male-dominated tradition. She even was quoted as saying she “loved” the bull for its bravery!
There is a strange seduction to the bullfight, that Hemingway wrote about even as he acknowledged the blood on the ground, the vulgarity of the vulture crowd counting the minutes to death for the bull, for the matador… There is something of grace and glory, just as there is in warfare; a dance and a theater for courage.
But the shame of it all, and so many better, moral ways to prove one’s bravery- to challenge your own oppression by oppressing another more constrained, less free and valued in society! It seems even more incumbent upon women to understand the plight of animals- so hence Oppression Tango. It’s not intended to glorify bullfighting, or Ms. McCormick; just to acknowledge these tensions of “rights” and how they play out sometimes.