Some may say that women talk too much, that when women are talking, they can never get a word in edge-ways and that we are constantly harping on; we are often compared to clucking hens and are mocked for assumed 'Mother's Meetings'. I don't know about you, but I disagree with these assumptions about the female voice. If anything, aside from familial nagging, women aren't heard enough. In fact, judging by the image-obsessed world that we live in; I'd say that we are seen more than we are heard. If you're a woman, then I'm sure that you've been the victim of silencing. Whether you've been hushed in a professional working atmosphere, whether you've been made to shut up with violence, whether your sexuality has been muted or whether you've been denied your voice completely - we have all experienced some kind of censorship, purely because of our gender.
Women are consistently told how they should portray themselves. We are told to be thinner, to be whiter, to be more feminine, we are told that we are wrong and that we should rid ourselves of undesirable attributes. But what if we don't want to be carbon copies of one another? The women who are outspoken, who break the rules, who toy with gender binaries, who speak out about their colour, who are devoid of cultural ideals are often tossed upon the scrapheap and ignored, demeaned or bullied for having a voice of their own. In recent news, a young, high-profile woman was labelled a 'feminazi' for challenging the blatant sexism that she received on a professional networking site, although a drop in the ocean where wider feminist issues are concerned, this is the kind of thing that women face every day. If we speak out, or dare to toe the line of what is deemed as an acceptable manner for a woman to behave, we are harassed until we retreat to our one-size-fits-all box.
The spectrum of female silencing is vast and for some of us, it would be more than we can handle to know of the atrocities that some women suffer. We cannot fathom the kind of misogyny that dominates some parts of the world and sadly, this kind of degradation cannot be halted by using hashtags or by starting projects. For the Western world at least (although our efforts are unlikely to touch these far parts of the world) we can fight to have the female voice heard so that our experiences are validated, so that we can be seen as people, equals and a force to be reckoned with.
Quite frankly, I am done with being seen as tits and arse, I am done with being seen as a punch bag, I am done with being seen as a joke and I am done with not being seen at all. My project, I AM HERE proposes to bring attention to women in the ways that they want to be seen and, in this aesthetics-obsessed world that we live in, what better way could there be to do that, than through photography? I want to collect photos of women who have chosen how they want to be seen. Not how society tells them to be, not how culture depicts womanhood, but how individual women want to present themselves.
If you want to get involved and find your voice, then let's start a conversation. Click here to find out how!