Right when Betty was exiting the art world following the obscenity hearing over the publication of her work in Evergreen magazine and the shock over her Masturbating Nudes exhibition Margaret Harrison was experiencing the same backlash in the UK.
In April 1971, the police closed down London's first overtly one-woman feminist art show after just one day, on the grounds of indecency. The police objected to the portrayal of men in Harrison's work as demeaning. There was Hugh Hefner squeezed into a bunny girl costume, a beefy but emasculated Captain America wearing false breasts and a stars 'n' stripes-patterned basque, and Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist who tried to murder Andy Warhol, stamping on his Brillo box artwork.
These images, says Harrison, "questioned the idea of having a fixed sexuality". She has previously said the police "were reacting as males to the notion that there were other manifestations of sexuality than the strictly heterosexual variety, and that was threatening".
There's a new exhibition of her work, I Am A Fantasy. I've been thinking of mounting an exhibition of Betty's art. It seems that feminist artists are finally in vogue. I would love to interview Margaret about how it feels to have your art rejected - how it feels to be so ahead of the curve that the police show up at your exhibition and shut it down.
Betty, maybe the art world is ready for feminist art...maybe the art world is ready to question fixed sexuality.