The Courage to Fight Violence Against Women

About This Gallery
by Curator Paula L. Ellman, Ph.D., ABPP

I introduce this Gallery of the Virtual Psychoanalytic Museum entitled “The Courage to Fight Violence Against Women”, a tribute to the International Psychoanalytical Association Committee on Women and Psychoanalysis (IPA-COWAP) and its Washington DC Conference from early 2016. IPA- COWAP was first established in 1998 to provide a framework for the exploration of topics related to issues primarily of concern to women. In 2001 it shifted to considering the relations between men and women, masculinity and femininity and currently includes issues of concern to men. The particular approach of this Committee has been to link theoretical and clinical psychoanalytical thinking with the outside world and its problems. This approach is not only significant from a socio-cultural viewpoint; experience has been that it has often contributed to a revision and updating of psychoanalytical concepts. COWAP will continue to encourage and support local, national and international study groups, to organize conferences and regional events and foster publications, by creating, where possible, opportunities for psychoanalytical meetings, work-groups and theoretical-clinical conferences on issues of social relevance. The Committee conducts psychoanalytical research into problems concerning the complex relations between categories of sexuality and gender and their implications for psychoanalysis. Conferences this past year have included: In Kolkata India, “The Safety of Women in Dogmatic Times”; in Montevideo Uruguay: “Violences- childhood – gender -society”; in Tbilisi, Georgia: “Medea: Femininity, Motherhood, Love and Hate”; and in Lima, Peru. This coming year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 9, 2019; Santiago, Chile September 2019; Istanbul, Turkey: “Women to Women in Analysis, October 18-19, 2019; Washington, DC: “What Do Women Want Today, November 8-9, 2019; Lisbon, Portugal: “The Feminine Within or the Man in the Woman, Revisiting Bisexuality”, December 6-7, 2019; and a co-sponsored Gender Diversities Summit in Brussels, Belgium, Sept 27-28, 2019.

This VPM Gallery exhibit is timely given our context of the #MeToo movement and our annual international Women’s Marches over the past couple years. Featured in this gallery is a diversity of exhibits.

Rachel Cohen, a clinical psychologist and the founder and executive director of the Common Threads Project presents a video describing the Project’s efforts to provide a path forward to women who have survived war, displacement and sexual violence. The powerfully moving video demonstrates the healing effects of the sewing circles where women create story clothes that the Project has brought to global post-conflict regions.

Janice Lieberman a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and docent at the Whitney Museum in New York City presents on Violence Against Women in the Work of Women Artists. While her focus is on the images of contemporary artists, her images and narrative includes early art expressions of violence against women, demanding our attention in the graphic depictions of women artists to this ever-present problem.

Myra Sklarew, an English Professor Emerita and poet presents a video of her reading aloud her poem “Violation” which appears in her anthology of poems entitled Veils, Halos & Shackles (Fishman & Sahay, 2016). Her poem recited in all its sheer power captures the ravages of violence with the courage to feel and represent.

Raquel Berman is a psychoanalyst in Mexico and heads the pilot project of Female Adolescent Sexual Risks. She presents on an exhibit of Wool Tapestries handwoven by Women the indigenous communities of Coyomeapan, Cuetzalan del Progreso, Taola and Xicotepec in the State of Puebla, Mexico. These tapestries were supposed to be a means of expression of vulnerable and silent women living in discriminating indigenous macho environments and give them voices. Another important aim of these collective weaving activities was to promote empowerment of these women against the discrimination they suffered as women in their own communities as well as indigenous women in the wider world.

To view and be immersed in this Gallery demands courage to face the realities of violence against women.

Thank you for your interest and I look forward to your online responses.


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