I'm wondering whether to save column inches in future Brian Sewells comments on Tracey Emin could be replaced with the words "I'M A GREAT BIG MISOGYNIST"?
Nobody has to like Tracey Emin, her very open and very populist style of art will always attract it's critics. Sewell sets the scene early on however when he accuses her of "playing the drunken slut" apparently unaware that any woman who dares drink in public or admit to a sexual past is at risk of labelling in that insulting gendered way. For the record - it's ok for women to drink alcohol and have sex. Men do it all the time.
Apparently Sewell feels alienated by Emin's frank discussion of the abuse she suffered as a child and issues which have affected her personally like abortion and menopause. For comparison he says "I do not feel excluded from the distress of Madame Bovary or Madame Butterfly", failing to mention that both of those characters were created by men. The female characters in them are defined wholly, rather boringly, by the relationships they have with the men around them. Speaking as a woman I can say I never identified much with either of them.
He further claims that Gilbert and George beat Ms Emin to the mark in using the word "cunt" prominently in art, forgetting that neither Gilbert nor George has a cunt. Does the word "n****r" mean the same thing whether a black or a white person uses it? No, of course not. And so Emin's use of "cunt" has a significance quite different from Gilbert and George's work.
In arguing that being open about her female experience Emin is alienating her male audience seems to forget that the history of art for hundreds of years has been the history of art created by men and consumed by men. Women have at best been allowed to sit still, silent and naked while it is produced. We should be delighted that that era appears at last to be reaching it's end. If one percent of the art world is now by women and for women, the word for that is "progress".
And anyway she doesn't - Emin's work invites men and women to examine modern womanhood close up. A third of British women have had abortions and at least one in twenty been raped. Menopause affects us all. If Sewell isn't prepared to face up to that and discuss maturely the way that Emin and others discuss these realities through art, I can only suggest replacing him with an art critic who isn't a cunt.