Messages like this abound:
All it takes is education to liberate a woman.
All it takes is freedom to liberate the individual.
There is no doubt that the plight of women worldwide is a serious one, but the focus on women of the developing world - one that is not covered particularly widely anyway - often eclipses the reality that education is not all it takes to liberate the individual, the woman.
So what's going on? I couldn't quite make sense of some of my scruples...
And with this confusion, I began to try to strip down the layers of what holds so many back from my interpretation of liberation.
The second part of the series, the black bordered posters, is what comes of taking on the "female empowerment" issue at a birds eye view.
This is a transformative poster series. I considered completely excluding the gendered part of the series (specifically targeted at women) and just have it as a part of my process, then realized that, for a project such as poster-making being particularly selective about the final product is unnecessary. That is, I can fine tune the final product (ie, the value$/self posters) as much as I please, but I still have the option of putting up the process posters to get the image out there for others' eyes.
Know that the seemingly disparate non-gendered values-oriented posters are the product of dissecting "The Problem" that is addressed in EMPOWERED.
But it's a universal issue. So people should think--
and perhaps if people just thought about their values...
Sexuality and sexual choice is an interesting indicator for empowerment/liberation. The frame I'm working with here is that, if you are not sexually liberated, then there is still something oppressive about your situation (social context, perhaps).
For at least part of this, crude language is necessary. Crude language speaks in volumes. Crude language is also a revealing product of my social conditioning.
Brilliant, powerful, eloquent young woman on the Brown campus. Spits fire in the daytime in debates, yaks her brains out at night at Fishco. Goes home with a dude who doesn’t respect her or understand her sexually. Wakes up after a night of unsatisfying sex and and then churns out a 10-pager on Kantian philosophy. Rinse, lather repeat.
The rift between intellectual/educational liberation and sexual liberation.
Through exhausting conversation after conversation, I came to boil down the issue to its core---figuring that no matter the issue I am trying to address, the thread of conflict is people’s lack of self-reflection on their values and the consideration of their values in their behavior and actions. I couldn’t decide on whether to stick with my gendered focus or just produce the universal challenges of values and concepts of self. So I did both. My project was a poster series. I made aesthetic choices that would tie every piece of the series together, even if it were in the slightest way.
I came up with the phrase “is well read, gives good head” the earliest of all the other ideas. My concern, naturally, was that this was not enough to prompt women (the target audience of this particular poster) to reflect on the odd disconnect that exists between their educational liberation and their sexual liberation. This is supposed to be a challenge to sex-positive feminism. Is sex positivity actually positive? Are people getting off with their sex-positive feminism, or are they just becoming really good at talking about what it means to get off? What does it mean to be sex-positive and are people actually just getting off on their ability to talk about it…and not actually getting off?
I started off knowing that I want to focus on the issues that come up in my mind most often while I am on campus. For this project, it made sense to me to use Brown students as my inspiration/challenge and thus as my target audience.
I was very reluctant in actually finding pictures because I was so concerned that I would not be able to express through visuals something that was already significantly challenging to verbalize. To find the images, I recalled a tumblr I had once put on the backburner for future investigation and visual stimulation: mytasteinwomen.com. Within a matter minutes I came across the blogger’s “tumblr crush”---some girl who featured herself in a collage of self portraits, including a faceless photo of her half-naked “summer reading ;)”. The sense of empowerment that I got from her stream of photos decidedly prompted my use of her photo. The second photo I used also happened to be from the same tumblr.
The hope is that the challenge might get people closer to a healthy level of self reflection…and good, healthy* sex.