Unspeakable Acts: Women, Art, and Sexual Violence in the 1970s

Unspeakable Acts: Women, Art, and Sexual Violence in the 1970s Review

The 1970s was a time of deep division and newfound freedoms. Galvanized by The Second Sex and The Feminine Mystique, the civil rights movement and the March on Washington, a new generation put their bodies on the line to protest injustice. Still, even in the heart of certain resistance movements, sexual violence against women had reached epidemic levels. Initially, it went largely unacknowledged. But some bold women artists and activists, including Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta, Marina Abramovic´, Adrian Piper, Suzanne Lacy, Nancy Spero, and Jenny Holzer, fired up by women’s experiences and the climate of revolution, started a conversation about sexual violence that continues today. Some worked unannounced and unheralded, using the street as their theater. Others managed to draw support from the highest levels of municipal power. Along the way, they changed the course of art, pioneering a form that came to be called simply, performance.


Award-winning author Nancy Princenthal takes on these enduring issues and weaves together a new history of performance, challenging us to reexamine the relationship between art and activism, and how we can apply the lessons of that turbulent era to today.

Title:Unspeakable Acts: Women, Art, and Sexual Violence in the 1970s

    Unspeakable Acts: Women, Art, and Sexual Violence in the 1970s Reviews

  • Viral

    Thanks to MacMillan for the ARC at BEA 2019!I don't know too much about art history, but this book from Princenthal was still a phenomenal look at how second-wave feminists of all different stripes us...

  • Jill Verenkoff

    Sexual violence has been a sobering reality for women since the dawn of humankind. The Bible recounts numerous examples of rape. Even those cute myths taught in school are full of stories of the gods ...

  • Sharon

    This is an important book that looks at the very real issue of violence towards women. It discusses how women took this issue and used their art to bring it to the forefront. It’s a difficult issue ...