The Masculine Imaginary in Architecture
I recently read a comment on social networks where a person claimed that women are not so involved in the dissemination of architecture because we are less "stuck." To think that someone could make such an empty and baseless generalization made me feel baffled. But in reality, such arguments are not uncommon. There is a deep collective amnesia regarding the role of women within the architecture profession, in which an androcentric perspective has prevailed.
Architecture is born with the use of reason and the ability of abstraction of the human being to become an extension of our existence. Architecture is ancient, it is through it that the human being began to build his own reality; a reality shared by both men and women. Still, it was only in recent years in modern history that a struggle began to reclaim what has been taken from us. For many years, women have had to live in the shadow of men. It is common to hear that many women feel identified with the impostor syndrome in which they feel minimized and devalued by a society that does not recognize us as co-creators of the world in which we live. It is so usual to camouflage the work of women within the union behind the name of a man, that it even has a name, the Lily Reich syndrome. Lily Reich was a German architect who worked with Mies van der Rohe on the Barcelona Pavilion (also called the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion) and on some furniture prototypes that are entirely attributed to the German architect. It was not the only case, Aino Aalto worked together with her husband Alvar Aalto in various projects and her name was overshadowed; the same in the case of Ray Eames with Charles Eames, Denise Scott Brown with Robert Venturi and Charlotte Perriand who worked with Le Corbusier; to mention a few. It not only happened in particular cases but also in schools like the Bauhaus, where many women had to publish their work under the name of the school. Or in movements like the Arts and Crafts where men predominate much more and the contributions of women were overshadowed. I can even go back much further, to the Upper Paleolithic era, where almost like an automated response rock art is attributed to male figures. These are just a few examples of how women's work is pushed into second place just because of gender.
In the artistic spectrum, the feminist movement began at the end of the 1960s and even so, progress and the true recognition of women in history have been gradual. Within architecture, she must not only be recognized as an author but as a protagonist within our ways of living that originate in the home and in the womb.
Our reality is made up of social constructs, within which dualities predominate; we believe in good and evil, white and black, feminine and masculine. Even in architecture we can find these made-up dualisms of the feminine and masculine. The rational and functional have been associated with more "virile" tones; to an “effeminate” counterpart that includes decoration and interior design. The feminist struggle inside and outside the union should not fall into value judgments of a feminine/masculine duality, but rather delve into social constructs, question them and even break them. It is a struggle that must permeate racial, social, and cultural gaps. Architecture is not a tool to create beautiful spaces. Architecture is an identity politics where we all have a voice that can no longer be silenced.