The “me too movement” and the film, Bombshell have drawn attention to the way women have been treated in the workplace (and in general). The objectification of women is nothing new. It’s brought forward by the current generation’s awareness of it. Recognizing that the Equal Rights Amendment has not been ratified by Congress gives rise to the question of what a woman can do to support her own causes, her own life and liberty. In this country (the USA), women have a great deal of freedom. Yet, some of us carry an inner sense of oppression. Is that because it’s in our DNA, something we’ve inherited from generations of oppressed women? Is it a seemingly innate quality of submission? Consent to be objectified? A way we win approval?
Two years ago, I made a costume for a local Fiber Arts Show. I was feeling the grief around the decline of my sister’s health. I was surveying my own life and the ways in which I was taught to submit to men…my father, my husband, my bosses in the workplace. I noted how my life was designed around not upsetting the dominant male ego. And certainly, the disallowance of knowing more than him even when it concerned my body and personal well-being.
At first, I was going to call the costume Ravaged. Then I decided on Girding Her Loins. Finally it became Reclaiming. What was there to reclaim? All of the qualities of power, courage and strength that a woman gives over to another. Like–her voice, her own thoughts, her truth, her wisdom, her intelligence, her intuition, her feelings, her free choices, her values and more.
This dress became a tactile representation of something that had been missing in my life. The expression of my right to be fully me as woman without shame or self-deprecation. It has been about claiming my own entitlement to my life without having to deny my own truth and gleaned wisdom.