I live in a reality of intrigue and constant threat, I feel not too many shades off from a constantly hunted spy, having no option but to learn self defense, how to kill someone else, or at least carry a weapon, to have a chance to survive my daily existence.
- Catherine Berendsohn
Thanks to Motion Maverick's Felix Alvarez for making concept capture possible
I want to include here the most important part of this body of pictures: It is my reaction to them. My reaction to seeing myself so portrayed. The noise in my head, "be demure", I like that because I feel respectful and covered. Other thoughts such as the fact that, "my respect level does not change based on my clothing or if I wear a costume this day or that", a role model telling me how to show up as a holy person, "I am not allowed to dress or speak this way", the creep boss who stiffly positioned me under his lights to fit the feminine role he thought I needed to be that fit his twisted little fifties role for me, "Shug" how do I spell that? His short hand of calling me "Sugar", they all crash through my mind like so much noise, and then I notice my panic at the images where I look sexier, something I used to so look forward to as a little girl, "one day I will be like the woman on the screen" like wanting to be Jessica Rabbit. Now how much am I effected that I finally don't feel panic at not wearing makeup, or covering a pimple, I actually feel panic at looking too attractive, because I find out it erases me, makes me a target, demeans my life, removes my respectability I may be afforded in the right "role", such as being a tour guide, versus wearing a party dress. It means I am some fraction of a person, needing a group of women to be able to count as one person who makes a credible witness on behalf of their own personal abuse. How many women does it take to make a person? My culture asks in court rooms by the examples it affords me. So I am going to attach below my journal entry after seeing this gallery first put up on my site:
It was addicting, doing a photoshoot with a new way to see myself to make personal and social commentary. I want more! It is so rewarding to see one of my projects completely seen through, and well executed on my website, that has allowed me to not be smothered by people who dismissed me too easily or don't appreciate all I am here to do, I don't need to take in pain at all, or feel burdened or denied. I can give generously to myself, to have space for all I value in my mind and to have my orientation in the world have its corner.
It is easy to hear judgement as well in my mind from someone saying, "see, look at that painted, cut hair, sexy positioning, she isn't the respectable example I thought she was. Now I can judge her, I congratulate myself she isn't working with me, and my rigid ideas of how a woman is to present herself." I also hear someone else's commentary, as I manage to pull off a performance like this, that is the start about coming forward with the agony I live with. "She's fake", "she is using it, see, now I can congratulate myself that her arguments for an emotional appeal are bogus, bullsh*t. I can dismiss her humanity now. Look at that! She's totally acting, she's just trying to get attention."
Actually, that is true. I act all the time, usually to hold in being vulnerable, or pretend to be okay, sometimes force a smile if I have gotten far enough to fake my countenance again for the social needs of someone else. And I did do this to get attention. Like I have for all the other campaigns I've ever worked on. I want to get it attention. Because these things are hard to talk about, usually hardest for me, with the pressure not just of taboo, or having to be "wow!" for you to be "pleased" with me, make you feel good, inspired! Or no one wants to hear about your pain- "not ow, but wow" to get people interested in helping you. There is something wrong with that, as major understatement.
So I felt drawn to the character in the Atomic Blonde movie, because even though it is making an argument that gee, girls can be cool, maybe I'll respect them a little more, if they can kill something and- "I'd have a harder time getting to do whatever shitty thing I feel like to that one, so I'll jack off to her picture and wish my girlfriend was secretly more like that, when her work in life is usually so sedate, that one, she's interesting. More intimidating, hot. I'd fuck her."
I still identify with the reality it takes for that woman to get to her place, the thing behind the hardness other people don't see.