Unsafe Women

Due to the practice of street art and graffiti having a history of being criminally sanctioned, and being associated with urban crime and youth deviance, its practice is often strongly associated with danger, or perhaps more fitting 'edginess'.

There is a strong perceived divide amongst mainstream audiences and governments alike created between that which is categorised as street 'art' and that which is considered to be graffiti or vandalism. These lines are contentious and frequently blurred, though more often what is considered to be street 'art' are texts that have a marketable economic worth. Therefore the aesthetic value of graffiti is often undermined. Graffiti writers gain social capital within their subcultural communities and communicate with each other through complex social networks where the basic unit is the 'crew'.

At this stop discussion should focus on whether criminality associated with graffiti limits female graffiti writers, or young women who are interested in the form. It is extremely pertinent to note here how women in public space are in frequent physical danger. In fact 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15 in Australia (ANROWS 2014), and areas considered trendy hubs for urban art such as Brunswick and Fitzroy have experienced spikes in violence against women. The most noted case being the tragic murder of Jill Meagher in 2012. Questions to discuss might centre on are does fear of violence limit your behaviour in public space? Do you think there is greater room for female graffiti writers? Does the gender-neutral ‘tag’ name eliminate the power structures of gender in graffiti?

(If the group concludes women are indeed limited I would encourage the group to consider themselves acting as an all-womens-crew and create some tags/throw-ups/political messages)

ANROWS (2014) Key Statistics About Violence against Women, accessed from http://www.anrows.org.au/publications/fast-facts.