I’ve been desperately wanting to talk on the blog about feminism and women who claim to be anti-feminists… or why John Piper is so totally wrong on what biblical womanhood means… or how much we need women to lead.
But three papers and numerous assignments seem to be getting in the way of that post.
Since I can’t complete a full blog post/rant, I decided to revise and post a complete version of my But I’m Here Now series.
For those who haven’t seen them before, these photos are from a photography project in which I tried to capture several different archetypes of women in our society.
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The Bitter Woman. She’s what people think they’re reacting to when they call themselves “anti-feminists.” She’s the woman who has chosen to internalize the words, “Bitches get stuff done.” She’s labeled and then brushed aside in our minds as being far too aggressive, but we miss the point. She has been wounded enough that she feels this way of being is the only way she’ll get the respect she deserves. I am very much a feminist, and I don’t think being one requires you to be the stereotypical bitter woman. It doesn’t require you to hate men. It doesn’t require any bra burning nonsense. Feminism is even compatible with being a happy stay-at-home mom.
But for her, she has been disrespected enough that she feels the need to prove herself. When you see her bitterness, don’t immediately respond with anger, take a moment to acknowledge the injustices that have made her so bitter.
The Silent Woman shows a contrast between the woman (represented by the left side of the face) who endures abuse and the woman (represented by the right side) who shows the world a brave and collected face. She’s the woman whose suffering goes completely unseen and unheard. There are few things more sick than hearing others (specifically young college males) joke about sexual assault or any sort of violence against women. It is not a joke. The stats say that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted during their college career. That is absolutely sickening and is nothing to laugh about.
The Used Woman is the one who has been judged on her physical appearance only. She’s the woman who has learned that she must play a certain role in order to get what she wants. Instead of being seen for her heart and soul, she’s shamed by Christians and non-Christians alike. My hope is that the title would make you stop for a moment and remember that she is more than the rating on some Evangelical’s scale of what is “sexually pure.” When I say she has been used, I don’t mean by those in her past, I mean by those who think they can use her as nothing more than a slut shaming joke or some sort of moral lesson.
The Forgotten Woman could be any woman in almost any situation, and her image sheds some light on the stereotypical female response, “I’m fine.” Her image shows the raw heartbreak that she wishes she could express without being considered weak. It is the pain that is normally masked with a pretty smile and perfect makeup. She is someone who as been wounded, but feels that by showing weakness she’s giving others license to judge her as too “girly” or too emotional.
The Real Woman is the one with a bare soul and no reservations about who she is. She’s the woman who is defying what society has taught her to believe, the woman who is ignoring the belief that something about her must be altered in order for her to be beautiful. Both secular and Christian culture communicates to women that they are objects. Secular culture says she should use her physical appearance to get what she wants while Christian culture says that her physical appearance is something to be ashamed of. The real woman is the one who defies both cultures and says that she has value beyond her body and sexuality but is not ashamed of either.
The Hidden Woman is the one who needs time for others to see past to the problem. At first glance she’s perhaps sad or tired, but it takes a closer look and dedication to see the pain she’s in. The picture was taken with this in mind and I hope it takes the viewer a moment or two to discover what’s wrong. The Hidden Woman slips through the cracks in our society without empathy and without acknowledgement, simply because we fail to see past her face. Maybe she feels like she wants this isolation, or that she deserves it, but in truth she deserves to be loved and seen and known. We must be the kind of people who show her that.
The Emotional Woman is the opposite of the Bitter Woman. She is everything so utterly adored from female movie stars down to your favorite kindergarten teacher. She’s sweet, sensitive, and she cries an awful lot. The reason she is included in this series is because, so very often, women must choose between being the Emotional Woman or some variation of the Bitter Woman. The Emotional Woman is idolized as feminine in every day social circles, but when it comes down to it, she’s overlooked as a leader and as a thinker. She’s “too soft” or “too fragile.” Too womanly. Even I sometimes find myself criticizing female leaders who seem to be too feminine. So while this woman at first glance doesn’t seem forgotten, I think she’s actually the one we forget the most.
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Being a feminist does not mean hating men or having to become a CEO or always being pro-choice. Being a feminist means supporting the rights of women and speaking up when those rights are threatened.
I found pieces of myself in all of these images. I may not identify fully, but I can relate to all of them.
My heart for these photos is that they would be a glimpse into the stereotypes most people have for different women. No one can be simplified to just one of these categories, but even so, they are a good way to show the wrong perceptions and treatment women so often endure.
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note to my dear readers: please feel free to like, share, subscribe, or join the conversation on any post that impacts you. Your voice is an encouragement to me and to others, and it’s as much a part of this story as mine.