The flavour of my particular sub-culture as a child (1970’s) was white, working class and religious. We were taught that it’s wicked and shameful to do things that were to our advantage and yet we were very much part of the South African apartheid machine. The weight of what had been imagined for me within my heritage slowly dawned on me: I was supposed to be submissive, get married to good stock and have children. I was expected to contribute to that society, become accomplished in caring for my family and savvy at serving. Education? Sure! But not at the expense of those servilities.
Decades later it became clear to me that it is up to us each to break the unpalatable cycles of our heritage. Nobody is coming to save you if these expectations are not your own. Only the person feeling the pressure can go about rejecting these regurgitated ideas. But… it conflicts with the inherited shame and the crush of the mouldy rules of the older folks who seek to domesticate women. They are the Black Doilies.
The Black Doilies don’t know better. They have not tasted the sweet yummyness of choices free from gender, age, convention or hierarchy. They don’t know what it feels like to be liberated from myths other people have created about the purpose of one’s life. They insinuate that your choices are selfish and somehow cause harm in their lives or say ‘but having a child is the most important thing a woman can do with her body’. They hide their judgements in little jokes about ‘a woman’s lot’ or even worse, give advice about your responsibilities that are worded to sound like real care.
“Conditioning into the female role is perpetuated by both men and women. Although some aspects of sexism are perpetrated primarily by men upon women, gender role conditioning is also enforced upon females by other females. Females have a special role to play in the socialization of other females into gender roles, and in making sure that, once indoctrinated, females do not stray too far from the female role. Sexism gets into the psyches and informs the behaviors of individual women, and it plays out in interactions between women. Just like men, women need to learn to stop being perpetrators of sexism if they are to become effective allies against oppression.” (E.J.R. David, “Internalized Oppression: The Psychology of Marginalized Groups”, 2014)
I think that we should question EVERYTHING in our culture. It’s our privilege and a necessity, because it brings about social change and evolution. It will help us all figure out how to advise and support the next generation without judgment.
Photopolymer Etching - Charbonnel ink on Stonehenge paper. A la poupée.
65 x 50 cm
February 25, 2020