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The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art will add entries for the women featured in Judy Chicago’s ‘Dinner Party’

We can edit it! Brooklyn Museum feminists to add shunned women to Wikipedia

The Brooklyn Paper
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Ladies, man your stations.

Feminists tried to stamp out anti-woman bias on Wikipedia on Saturday with an online editing spree at the Brooklyn Museum’s anti-sexist art center.

“Our mission is to bring attention to women who have been neglected,” said Jess Wilcox, program coordinator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

“History is sort-of being written by Wikipedia, and there has been a lot of discussion in the media about gender inequities in Wikipedia.”

Attendees added biographical information to the entries of women featured in Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party,” a huge triangular banquet installation considered to be one of the most important works of feminist art and the hub’s centerpiece, as part of an inaugural Edit-a-Thon.

The table features 39 place settings for important women from throughout history, including Susan B. Anthony, Virginia Woolf, and the Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut, as well as the inscribed names of 999 other women.

The Center for Feminist Art has tried to create Wikipedia entries for every woman featured in the colossal exhibit — an enormous undertaking, but one that is long overdue considering a common tendency to leave women out of the history books, according to the Wilcox.

“History is not always written in the most fair way,” Wilcox said. “The idea is that women are always categorized as ‘other.’ ”

The center also added more context to the page of British writer Mary Hays, whose compilation project “Female Biography; Or Memories of Illustrious and Celebrated Women of All Ages and Countries” helped inspire Chicago’s piece.

The mass editing effort was inspired by Wikipedia’s dudely move last year to segregate female American novelists into their own category, placing only men in the “American novelists” group.

“That sparked a lot of debate about gender equality,” said Wilcox. “It is all part of a bigger picture.”

More than 20 other feminist revision sessions took place simultaneously at locations throughout the globe.

Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy., Fourth Fl., at Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa, (718) 638-5000]. Feb. 1, 12 pm–3 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ben from Brooklyn says:
This is news? Go on to wikipedia and add all you want. Thats wonderful but it is not news. This paper is getting more and more rediculous in its attempts to create controversial dialogue on its pages where there was none to begin with. Maybe there is a conscious effort to leave important women out of wikipedia by the He Man Women Haters Club?
Feb. 1, 2014, 8 am
ty from pps says:
This is a fun activity and all... but unless this "editfest" is actually substantive work (well-sourced and defensible), it's just going to be removed by other editors.

The literature that has emerged on the topic of male-dominance in Wikipedia writing/editing is complex. Much points to the competitive and combative editorial process -- directly challenging of sourcing etc. This *tends* to be the type of environment women (statistically speaking) don't gravitate to.

I'm afraid this one-day event is pointless. If you want women's voices to be more prominent on Wikipedia, there has to be sustained encouragement and support -- not just a one-off (and easily/quickly undone) event. Wikipedia articles are a LONG iterative process of revision and refinement, with lots of ongoing edits, challenges, discussions, suggestions. For example, the article on the Space Shuttle Columbia (featured today) has over a decade of history including a couple thousand edits/contributions.
Feb. 1, 2014, 1:35 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Are you kidding, this is a great initiative! Especially in the context of the Judy Chicago piece at the museum, an astounding work of art.
Feb. 1, 2014, 6:55 pm
ty from pps says:
It's a meaningful event. It fits the context of the Judy Chicago piece. But I'm afraid it will have very little real influence on increasing the female voice on Wikipedia. I hope I'm wrong. I hope the participants (worldwide) are in it for the "long haul" and keep up the work, and spurs other to do the same.
Feb. 2, 2014, 11:14 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Agreed, Ty. A wiki entry is a long shot to fame and glory. But it's a start. Let us not forget, the "Golden Age of White Guys" that weighs so heavily upon the bookshelves of our glorious Republic ... is owing to the tedium of many an unsung white guy.
Feb. 2, 2014, 11:56 am
ty from pps says:
You seem be missing the point, Chooch. Wikipedia is very important. I'm talking about the nature of Wikipedia. Something you are not grasping... and something the organizer of this event spoke to in the quotes in this article.

It has become the defacto contemporary encyclopedia and several academic studies have shown how accurate and trustworthy it is. (i.e., better than Brittanica.) This is due in great part to the iterative process. An iterative process that has a very low representation of women.

Any entry made during this "Edit-a-thon" will potentially live a short life unless -- unless -- the authors persist in the Wikipedia "process." Any new entry or edit by an unknown author is (rightly so) seen as suspect in the eyes of long-standing editors. Unless the editor is willing to "enter the fray" and defend her contribution, there's a good chance they will be removed or modified significantly.
Feb. 2, 2014, 4:42 pm
Ben from Brooklyn says:
The fact it can be edited by anyone makes it a unreliable source of information
Feb. 2, 2014, 5:07 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Point taken, Ty. Wrong, Ben. The fact that wikis can be edited by anyone is what makes them reliable, and accounts for their fair comparison with Brittanica (a study that we recall from some years back). History is an ongoing process of revision, fact checking, challenges and defenses. Trouble is, the great majority of such wonkers are men. Women who enter this frey will be butting up against a legion of preposterous mustaches wielding monocles the size of coke bottles.
Feb. 2, 2014, 6:15 pm
Velvet from Woman says:
Here them roar - the voices of the woman who was ignored by a MAN. Go forth noble lady, and always let the sun shine down on your woman's body. She who is her, and girl that is lady. Finally something must get done!
Feb. 3, 2014, 10:47 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but they'll write anything on Wikipedia. Why, just this afternoon someone wrote "2014" as the date that Phillip Seymore Hoffman DIED! What if his family saw this? They really should have people watching over these things. Of course, this is only the opinion of one man.
Feb. 3, 2014, 1:09 pm
Barry Popik from Greater NYC area says:
Audrey Munson, the greatest American model and New York's "Civic Fame" woman, can be seen in the statues just outside of the Brooklyn Museum. She should be honored on a U.S. postage stamp.

I wrote to the Brooklyn Museum in the early 1990s (when Munson was still alive), but no one would even respond to me. The Brooklyn Museum can correct that error and begin the simple letterwriting campaign for Miss Munson that would give her the honor she deserves.

Or the Brooklyn Museum can continue to ignore Miss Munson. Your choice, Brooklyn Museum.
Feb. 3, 2014, 2:05 pm

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