Tate Modern

Feminism and media

Natalie Bell Building Level 4 East
VALIE EXPORT, ‘Action Pants: Genital Panic’ 1969
VALIE EXPORT, Action Pants: Genital Panic 1969. Tate. © DACS 2019

This room looks at how gender stereotypes from the mass media have been confronted and subverted by feminist artists in the past 50 years

The late 1960s saw a boom in the number of artists focusing on the construction of identity in the media, challenging gender roles and rewriting the male-dominated traditions of art history. One of the strategies employed by these artists was to borrow elements from popular visual culture in order to question the ways in which the female body is presented, whether as sex fantasy or ‘domestic goddess’.

Artists have also manipulated their own appearance, stressing how clothes and make-up function as a costume and dressing up to ‘perform’ gender in a way that meets or plays with social expectations. Some works highlight the ritualistic and depersonalising aspects of applying cosmetics, while others enact exaggerated gender stereotypes.

Some women artists have chosen to expose and highlight their sexuality, in order to reclaim it and transform it from an object of male desire to a creative and oppositional force. In other cases, the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are resisted or rejected for a more fluid and dynamic understanding of gender identity.

Curated by Valentina Ravaglia

The International Council Gallery Consortium


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

We Recommend

Valérie Mréjen: Stories, memories and language

We met the French artist and filmmaker in Paris. Her work is on display in Feminism and Media

Art in this room

Carolee Schneemann Interior Scroll


Sanja Ivekovic Make-up - Make-down


Guerrilla Girls Dearest Art Collector


All rooms in this display

We recommend

Radical Thinkers: the art, sex and politics of feminism

Video of  a panel discussion addressing the legacy of feminist art and theory and its enduring relevance to contemporary struggles

Find out more

Feminist art

Discover more about feminist art in Tate’s glossary

Identity politics

Explore this term in our glossary



born 1954

Sarah Lucas

born 1962


born 1940