I’m not really sure how to start this post, because what I’m trying to express is a topic that has surfaced, in one form or another, in a number of my works. Over the past year and a half though, through both the Strange Sound series, and now in Rituals, in addition to my photo-based art, I’ve been compulsively exploring this topic more and more – albeit still in a manner which is not entirely direct (which is my style). Oddly enough, it’s been something I’ve been trying to come to grips with through my work long before sexual harassment and assault came up in this presidential election.
These past few weeks, I’ve been reliving this continuous theme in my life since I was a child, reminded of it by the remarks and attitude displayed in the “hot mic” tape. I’ve come to realize that, like other traumatic experiences in my life, I don’t fully experience them on an emotional level till much later, when things are quiet and the situation is in the past. This is called “post traumatic stress” (“disorder” is a name that I’m not going to end that phrase with). What I tend to do when emotionally devastating things happen to me is to soldier on, because you have life to deal with, and things can’t just stop, and you won’t let them stop out of defiance, the survival instinct kicks in. But later, the trauma comes out in an incoherent way, triggered by a memory, or in this case, a recorded conversation, and it’s devastating. All the experiences you didn’t let get in your path because you wouldn’t crumple loom over you like a tidal wave.
What starts the healing process is to name this trauma, recognize it, and admit what it has done to you. This been very hard for me to do for this particular topic, because it is so personal, so hurtful, so violating, and so dehumanizing. To experience this kind of energy directed your way since you are very young is exhausting, soul-sucking, and it makes you an extremely guarded, skeptical person when it comes to the opposite sex – particularly if you are reserved and tend to always try to find the good in people. To encounter men who are solely interested in you because of what is between your legs is horrifying. What is truly so disappointing to acknowledge is that you will continue to experience this battle throughout your life as a woman, because there will always be men like this in the crowd, the ones people call an “alpha male,” a lecherous and aggressive man-child who regards women as things for their sexual gratification, who wants to show who is boss by making you feel like nothing. It is NOT your duty to fix them – indeed they are damaged and they are taking it out on anyone they decide is a target. It IS in your best interests, when you are not in danger (and sadly many women are), to call them out on it, and keep them away from you at all costs. In the American workplace there are measures you can take, but outside of that, it’s a frightening free-for all.
So… I am placing this post in the category of my Rituals series, because the next video I’m starting to make for this series is going to be very tough on me emotionally. And that’s all I’m going to say about it.