Par Olivia Cassano

“Queen Vic was an O.F. An original feminist. So I wanted to show her in all her glory." That's what street artist Vaj Graff wrote to her haters, justifying herself after 'vandalising' a 127-year-old statue of Queen Victoria in Bristol by spray paining a vulva on it.

"A lot of haters out there are calling it VANDALISM. It ain't vandalism. It’s a statement. STAND TALL. STAND PROUD AND LOVE THE VAJ," wrote the artist, who, from her artistic moniker alone, conveys that her mission is to spread feminism by means of vagina art - a movement that's been widely criticised

The statue of one of history's supposedly most prude monarchs, which has been standing there since Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887, got an x-rated makeover as a statement about the "male-dominated" art world. Speaking to the Bristol Post, she explained the art world, and street art, is ruled by men,"So I've got to represent. I've got to redress the balance."  

Feminist artist Vaj Graff paints genitals on Queen Victoria statue

(Photo: @BertramFiddle via Twitter)

"It's difficult to explain to someone who ain't from Bristol but if you were you'd know that Banksy is a tourist attraction." she said to Mic. "Bristol City Council protects the same thing that they have criminalised." She went on to describe how even though there are more and more female artists reclaiming the streets, there is still a deep inequality in how the public, and authorities especially, receive their work.

 

"Street art is full of COCKZ & I aint just talking about the DICK HEADS with the cans. I’m talking about the big fuck off COCKZ that are sprayed on every wall in BRIZZLE."

 

She raises a good point. You find penises scribbled on bathroom walls, in school hallways and graffitied along railroad tracks. But unlike acne and peer pressure, the habit of drawing phalluses on anything and everything to mark your territory doesn't get behind in adolescence. Even Banksy marked his territory by painting a naked man hanging from a window of a nearby sex clinic. "So I spray a minge on her maj and Bristol gets a bee in its bonnet. But people have nuff love for Banksy but not muff love for VAJ," wrote Graff on her website. 

Feminist artists painted vulva on Queen Elizabeth statue

(Photo: Vaj Graff)

Graff's graffiti provoked distinctly different reactions than its phallic counterpart, especially from the media. "Bristol loves shouting about street art but when it comes to something real with a real message it can't handle it," she said, referring to Banksy's nearby painting.

petition calling on Graff to apologise for causing the stir was started, but only managed to muster six signatures. Meanwhile, there's also a counter-petition from a supporter of the artist, entitled "Bring Back the Vaj".

But can Queen Victoria be referred to as a feminist? She infamously once said that "Feminists ought to get a good whipping." The Victorian era was a time where women had to endure appalling social conditions, and the monarch objected to women’s rights in the sense of voting, owning property and marriage laws because that was the social norm. So as powerful as Graff's statement is -- vulgar or not, it sends a clear message--, perhaps the target was misguided.

Regardless of any shortcomings, and cattiness toward Banksy aside, what Graff points out about the inequality in the urban art world really hits the mark.

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