Saturday, 7 August 2010

Laying to rest the underlying feminist within...

Pure innocence
"Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison." 
 Mary Wollstonecraft is almost a swear word in some circles. Women who want a life partner cower from it, men cry out at the sight of it or murmur in disdain at its very mention, requiring 'not even a hint' to come their way.  Its greatest victim or subscriber (dependent of which side of the fence you stand) is the many young, impressionable girls that are exposed to and seduced by it from an early age, thereby depositing an element of 'feminist thinking' in every woman.   The peril of feminism is that by its very definition, it strips away a girl, young lady and woman's right to be feminine.  Mary Wollstonecraft's quote above suggests that a girl being told she is beautiful and being indulged in her beauty shortens her sight for what she could become. Following that school of thought one would shy away from telling a young girl that she is pretty, looks lovely or that she is beautiful...daddy's little princess... Removing all things pretty that refer to her appearance and developing her mind instead. Therefore from so young and fragile an age, being 'feminine' is cast as being somehow inferior and undesirable for intelligent women. I must give my parents credit here in that they defied this school of thought and raised me to be a beautiful thinker. From an early age I recall being told how pretty, and lovely and beautiful I was and also how clever, creative, good and brilliant. So for me good looks or a focus on beauty  and appearance has never been a barrier or hindrance to the development of my mind and I firmly believe that this is the approach that we must take to raising the next generation of women thereby ensuring that they are balanced and free to embrace femininity without fearing being perceived as 'dumb blonde' type characters.

Baby Girl
The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, "It's a girl."  
Shirley Chisholm

Now being an African woman raised in an African home, society and country, one could and with good cause feel that I agree more with Shirley Chisolm's take on feminism here. In particular but not exclusively in African cultures women have a strictly defined role that does not leave much room for a brilliant mind or an independent spirit  of any magnitude. Women in these cultures are home makers, child bearers and raiser and husband satisfiers. This being their defining role, anything above and beyond that is often not encouraged and therefore is down to tenacity and deep set desire to achieve on the part of the individual woman and the liberality of the man she married / her parents. A good example of this is my Mum. Raised in Zimbabwe to liberal parents she got the opportunities to be educated to PhD level  and has always had good jobs and is influential in the banking industry today with my Dad's support. Now when I was growing up my mother had a hobby, that of buying property and over the years she built up a property portfolio that is pretty impressive. However, in spite of my mother's education, career achievements and ability to make her own money and a fair bit of it, Zimbabwean law at the time did not permit a woman to buy property without the written consent of her husband or father...need I say more? 
 I do not disagree with the traditional view of a woman's role in the home, with her children and beside her husband or as a daughter. Why? Simply because I feel that it is important to prepare a young girl to take up these roles and perfect herself in performing them because if she later desires marriage and a family, she will need to be equipped to fulfil the requirements of this position. I do however object to the concept that this is all a woman can and therefore stunting their growth at this point. I have been raised , by example, to believe that the core or central function of a woman in her home is the true pride and joy at her heart, and it should performed with pride and the care, diligence and love that one should expect. However this is the beginning of what a woman is / can be and not the full sum as my mother's example shows... With all her accomplishments and achievements, my mum always seemed most satisfied with her day when she had returned home form work, checked the house to ensure order was still in hand, made dinner for the family and got us all ready for the next day.... Therefore I firmly believe that to teach a young girl any different is to rob her of her God given right to be a woman (in the traditional sense) and  takes away from her potential and steal her future...
Little Sisters
I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives but as nouns. 
 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "Our Girls"

I love Elizabeth C. Stanton's quote here and am proud to say that I have lived my life as a noun, defining myself and my environment and truly being the author of my own destiny for the most part and not standing idly by and letting life happen to me and being the completer of other peoples definitions of who I am or should be. Elizabeth describes what I feel is the best of feminism in that it is about empowering women to be themselves, and not just themselves but the very best versions of themselves! This is the mindset that my parents adopted in raising me. I was taught to stand up and be counted, I was given a voice and I was heard. This made me feel that I could and be anything I wanted to be, not instead of my traditional role as a woman but to compliment it. A hard working, accomplished and well educated woman adds value to her marriage and family rather than takes away from these roles.

Not so happy young  lady
“Women who seek to be equal to men lack ambition.” 
Timothy Leary
Now earlier this morning I posted Timothy Leary's quote on my Facebook page to see what reaction of the general populous of the world wide web. I am pleased to report that it did give rise to some comment in the way one would expect from a society developed on the 'battle of the sexes' type of feminism mindset. The first response was from man as expected, seeking clarification  followed by some ladies who either agreed or also asked for clarification of my meaning. Well I don't know what Timothy Leary meant by this statement but my interpretation of it is that, anyone whose greatest ambition is to 'out do', dominate, overpower, lord over or subdue another, seeks only to betray the true worth of self that they will never find whilst blinded by the former pursuit. It matters not if the person seeking equality which in reality translated to domination, is from an opposing gender or not, the robbery of self is the same. A person with true ambition,  seeks to find their purpose in life and perform it to the best of their ability as long as they live...In that station seeking to be the very best version of themselves they can be...this in my opinion is the only legitimate ambition a human being can have.

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.  
Anaïs Nin

The trouble with being so well adjusted and comfortable in your own skin is that there are many men who are not. Now hold on, this is not the bit where I start man bashing, on the contrary, this is a piece of advice to my fellow strong self motivated accomplished women. There are good men out there who will support you, encourage you and even push you to achieve because they can see it in you and they know that it is your hearts desire to succeed. Yes there are! Many a good man who wont be intimidated by you but will feel he has found his intellectual equal and a genuine partner not just a pretty girl who follows (though clearly there is nothing wrong with that!). My point? God has designed a man that will be all the things Anais Nin says above and more so dont  settle for an average guy with less ambition who will be intimidated by your shadow and result in treating you badly in an attempt to boost his own self esteem! Be not deceived one sure way of aborting your destiny and never fulfilling your purpose in life is by being with the wrong man and men this is the same for you! The right person is well worth the wait and  with him there will be no 'battle of the sexes' rather a meeting of the minds...

'The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.'
Hans Hofmann

Motherhood is probably one of the most spiritual of experiences a woman can have and it is not something women should deny themselves because they are fighting the feminist battle, in which I might add, everyone is a loser if it means tearing down what is a woman's God given right and design to be a wife and a mother. I feel that the worst part of feminism is that it makes women despise being what they were designed / created to be!  The simply uncomplicated truth is that women were design to be feminine, maternal, a little more emotional than men, needing protection and covering from a man and secure in a relationship in which they can nurturer, procreate, build, defend, strengthen, help their man. The bible gives a Hebrew phrase to describe a wife which is ezer kenegdo (help meet),  meaning broadly, one who surrounds / protects through assisting and thereby is a counterpart of equal matching... So in a nutshell, God didn't create women to be subservient door mats or bra burners! No, in fact they are supposed to play a supporting role to their man. And God designed women in such a way that she can only truly flourish in a partnership where is is equal to her man in character and aligned with him in vision. One who is able to be his ezer kenegdo, his helper, his second pair of eyes that sees what is coming on his blind side, who can carry the load if ever required to, who is not afraid to stand behind him without feeling inferior, who can fight for him and their children, who is resourceful , frugal, strategic in thinking and occasionally his wisdom when he cannot see...This is not a picture of a weak or pathetic woman yet it is a description that can be attributed to a housewife as well as a career woman. The disconnect is when a handful of men treat a handful of women badly, forgetting their worth, and those women burn their bras and teach their daughters to also... In the processes despising the very role that makes them equal to men in the correct sense of the word.

 A virtuous woman who can find? ~ Proverbs 31 [The Holy Bible]

10 A wife of noble character (virtuous) who can find?
       She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
       and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
       all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
       and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
       bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
       she provides food for her family
       and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
       out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
       her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
       and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
       and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
       and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
       for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
       she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
       where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
       and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
       she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
       and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
       and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
       her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women do noble things,
       but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
       but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
       and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

E:thos Photographic's submission to the Black & White Spider Awards 2010

"Celebrating its sixth year, Black and White Spider Awards is the leading international award honoring black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers in a prestigious annual competition and globally webcast event, reaching photo fans in over 154 countries." 
I am incredibly excited to be a participant in the Black & White Spider Awards. The standard of photography submitted to these awards are the highest in the world of photography so the opportunity to throw my hat into the ring is humbling! "Nominees vie for 132 title awards representing the best work of the year. Receiving a Black and White Spider Award is an endorsement of distinction from the most trusted names in the business which is no easy feat and among their sponsors is the prestigious World Photographic Arts.

Here are the six entries from us! Do keep an eye on the blog as winners will be announced at the end of October and as soon as we know we will share!
TITLE: A moment of clarity
CATEGORY: Portrait
CAPTION: Looking up to the heavens
TITLE: Running free
CAPTION: A time to play!
TITLE: Homeless Briton.
CATEGORY: Photojournalism
CAPTION: An English man living under a London bridge
TITLE: Fly away with me...
CATEGORY: Still Life
CAPTION: Floating through time
TITLE: Rebellion by design
CATEGORY: Still Life
CAPTION: Maintenance by climbing
TITLE: Rising darkness
CATEGORY: Silhouette
CAPTION: The remains of the day


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