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A Woman’s Razor, a Tool of Oppression?

When I was young, I shaved my legs every day; EVERY day.  Spring, Summer, Autumn, AND Winter; every day.  The media told me that having smooth, moisturized, soft legs was an important part of being pretty – and as a teenager and young person I bought into it.  I believed the myth of beauty society fed me.

As I came into adulthood, I still shaved – though not with the same frequency.  I spent a great deal of my time as a young adult sick and in pain… pretty just wasn’t as important when you hurt so bad that you can’t get up and down stairs without dissolving into tears.  But I still shaved and moisturized.  It was part of being a girl.  We couldn’t have people thinking I actually grew hair on my legs.

Then I became a Mom.  And yes, even then I shaved my legs.  By then it was just one of those chores you do.  Going swimming?  Better shave.  Wearing shorts or a skirt?  Better shave.  Just part of the self-grooming routine.  Something I didn’t think about.  Something I did in a rather robotic fashion, another member of the trained masses.

I want my daughter to grow up knowing these things are choices – even if we don’t always feel they are.  Not all Women shave.  In some parts of the world it would seem odd to do so.  My daughter believed this until she was three.  Then one day she laughed, astonished, at the ridiculous notion that a Woman could choose not to shave.  That was the day I stopped shaving my legs.

Lily-Ann has other Women in her life who are non-shavers, my sister for one.  But clearly this was something she needed to see with more frequency.  It may seem like a small thing, but I needed her to know that we have a choice.  We don’t have to shave.  We don’t have to buy into the view of beauty that the media is selling, we can choose something different.

I may be the odd Woman out here in North America, sporting hairy legs all year long – without shame and, quite frankly, with a little pride.  And yes, it may seem like a strange thing to take a stand on…  but I couldn’t let my daughter grow up thinking she has no choice, that she has to go along with whatever ideals society sets before her.

She has options and choices.  We all do.

Sure, I could have kept on shaving – but she shocked me out of it.  Sometimes, that’s what we need.  Something to shock us out of that robotic state we get lulled into.  Something to bring us back into personhood.  A sudden splash of cold water, a bucketfull dumped on us while we lay half asleep, lounging in the sun.  Something to remind us we’re alive, and we have the right to make these seemingly small, seemingly insignificant, choices for ourselves.  And sometimes, those small choices end up being some of the biggest.

my hairy leg out in the sun

Out working in the yard, clearing away the Winter ick. My hairy leg enjoying the Spring sunshine.

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A cornball view of spirituality and a patch of dirt.

There are few things as truly good for the soul as dark rich soil and all the life contained within.  Of course, there are few things as jarring for the body as cultivating a yard gone to meadow and then planting said yard with perennials.  So while my mind and heart sing out a blissful YES, my body wimpers, sobs, and groans in protest – but it’s worth it.

One of the greatest tools for ripping apart the surface of a yard yet to become garden is the Garden Claw.  And for my parent’s purchase of said tool years ago I am grateful.  It takes some work; jabbing it into the ground, twisting and wrenching, ripping up that tough top layer filled with root and unwanted growth.  My arms were already sore from the previous begun cultivation, but without this particular tool?  I can’t imagine the work it would have been.  With all the tree roots in our yard, there was no mechanized way to really dig in – and I don’t mind having the chance to feel truly involved with this process.

There isn’t much that’s all that gratifying about jabbing, twisting, and pulling up clumps with the Garden Claw…  nor is there much to take joy in while you use your hand fork to rake through the mess pulling out unwanted plant and root – inch by inch.  Shaking loose the dirt held within each clump.  But the next step?  It makes it all worth the effort!

Feeling that dark rich soil that waited for you, hidden just beneath?  It’s pure heaven.  Watching and discovering the infinite life contained within stirs the soul in ways nothing else does.  Connecting with the Earth at the most basic level, on your hands and knees as you commit each tiny plant to it’s home.

I’m not a gardener.  I don’t know the names of all the crawling creeping things within the soil, nor do I know the names (common or proper) of the perennials we planted the last couple of days.  But I do know that we all need to find a way to connect to our Earth.  If you ever need to see deity, to feel the Earth breathe life and to know that we are all connected?  There is no simpler way to do so than to pick up a trowel and go find a patch of dirt that has been lying in wait for someone to tend it – to turn it from dirt to soil.  To create with it something amazing.

A bit cornball?  Maybe.  But that’s me.

The Power of SHe – Photography Debut

Last night marked the debut of six pieces from my Power of SHe project.  They were premiered at the Mosaic art and fashion show, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pride in Saskatoon.  It was a sold out event, with spectacular performances, beautiful clothing, and an outstanding array of artistic work.  I was proud to have my work featured at such a fabulous event.  My congratulations to the Saskatoon Diversity Network for putting on this groundbreaking event, and my thanks for all their hard work.

Now, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the six pieces I debuted last night.  As many of you are aware, The Power of SHe is a personal project of mine focusing on how we, as Women, choose to define ourselves vs how society and the media seek to define and confine us.  I hope it forces people to take a closer look at what makes us who we are, and find those things which unite us.  As Women we should be supporting one another in our choices, finding strength within ourselves and helping to empower our sisters.  That is what The Power of SHe is all about.

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All six images can be seen in greater detail (and are available for purchase) at:  http://td365.smugmug.com/Art/The-Power-of-SHe/  For information on how you can become involved in this important project, visit http://photography.tobi-dawne.com/Power_of_SHe.html

 

Raised to be censored.

I logged in today specifically to write more about Women and the fight to challenge societies notions of what and who we are to be.  So it was seemingly appropriate to discover the following when I clicked on WordPress in my toolbar:

wordpress has been censored

Of course, WordPress isn’t protesting on behalf of gender issues, it’s doing so to help prevent the potential screening and censoring of content on the web.  Another important issue that could affect us all.  But in all honesty, these repeating black boxes got me thinking.  Children are essentially raised to be censored.

As a society we don’t raise our children to be radical free thinkers out to change the rules and defy convention.  We raise our children to fit in, to maintain the status quo, to work within the system, to be censored – by us, by society, by themselves.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

Colour within the lines.

Present yourselves as society deems appropriate.

Working on the Power of SHe project has been challenging if for no other reason than I am forcing myself and my models to defy convention.  There are many shots that I have set up in my mind, but finding women brave enough and strong enough to participate with me is hard.  I don’t want airbrushed, magazine ready bodies.  I want real women, PERFECT in their natural, untended, and even derelict form.  Mother’s aprons, scars, celluloid, stretch marks – part of lives well lived.  Time for them to be celebrated not censored.  Love yourself in your decrepitude.  It’s time to teach our daughters a new standard of beauty, one free of censored black boxes and filled with the rosy pink hues of love.

Get involved!  I need you!  Please.

You can drop me a line any time to volunteer for this project – photographer at tobi-dawne dot com

Let’s break free of the black boxes society insists on using to mask and muffle us.  Embrace all it is to be a Woman, and celebrate in your own flesh!

wordpress, censored black boxes

The Dichotomy of Humanity

I have come to the conclusion that there are basically two types of people.  There are those who, given a small bit of power, take it and in turn give power to others trusting that we are all deserving of respect and given the opportunity will prove just that.  Then, there are those who, given a small bit of power, keep it to themselves assuming that people will do the worst and cannot possibly handle any responsibility looking upon the rest of us with a wary heart and distrust.

It has been my experience that people expect from one another, basically whatever they themselves are.  So a person who is a gossip, assumes people are always talking about them and naturally distrusts what others say.  And a person who believes in giving, assumes that others are basically good and will do the same if given the chance.  We see in others, our own reflection.

These two things, coupled together, can lead a good person who believes in sharing power to get bit from time to time by people of the other sort.  And, this could potentially lead to a good person becoming bitter, and losing that hope, losing that faith in humanity they once held dear.  I can only hope that I won’t be bitten that many times.

I’ve been bit, a great number of times…  but still, I have to believe that given the opportunity that people will choose to do good, and that ALL people are deserving of respect – regardless of age or station.  It’s just who I am.  So please forgive me as I pout, and cry a little off in the corner.  I’ve recently been bitten, and it hurts like hell.  However, with a little care and a little nurturing I’m sure this wound (like most others) will heal.  It will likely leave a scar, but I’ll move forward still believing in people.

Just back the frick up…

I’ve got an issue with people in positions of authority who feel the need to dictate their will over others – especially when inappropriate (and let’s be honest, it’s pretty much always inappropriate).  It’s something I’ve had a problem with for as long as I can remember, and I have a really difficult time keeping myself in check when I witness anything along these lines…  And yes, I’ve acted to my own detriment in an effort to stop behavior like this (whether or not the offense involves me).  I have a problem with it.  I can’t help it.  Honestly.

I thought, as an adult, that the days of people attempting to assert their will, their way of doing things, their “it’s my way or the highway” attitude over me were way past gone.  But apparently I was wrong.  And I’m now facing a choice of fighting, and risking losing something that means the world to me, or letting it slide and filling with resentment but maintaining my role in something that matters.  I’m not a happy camper.

So…  what’s a grrrl to do?  I know I’m right in this situation.  I haven’t done anything wrong, I haven’t bridged any ethical boundries (if anything the bullying on behalf of an organization is what’s wrong).  I just can’t abide people using their power – whether it’s the bullies in school who were bigger or the bullies of the adult world who have some semblance of power…  A bully is a bully is a bully.  And it’s something I take issue with.

I hate being put into this situation.  Not freaking cool.  😦

Grrrr…

Gack!

The Power of SHe!

It’s a late night for the Smith household.  We just got home and kid-kid is fast asleep.  We went from a late afternoon photoshoot (my husband serving as an assistant) straight to my parents place and spent the evening/night there while they went out to visit with friends and listen to music.  I’m always happy to help out watching my youngest sister and the older gentlemen who live there, but it was a very late night for the little girl – so it’s nice to have her in bed now.

My photo shoot today was the first in my The Power of SHe project.  It was with a fabulous woman named Sigrid.  She dressed in full Viking kit, complete with sword and shield.  And I was thankful for the mild Winter weather as we were shooting outdoors – down near the ice flows on the river.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally have the time to devote to this project.  It’s been in the planning for a couple of months now.

Initially I began working on a project I called Celebrating Motherhood…  but it became clear to me that this was only one aspect of our story – the shared narrative of what it is to be Women.  So Celebrating Motherhood has been swallowed by The Power of SHe.  The motherhood segment will receive it’s on exhibit space – as I believe it deserves it, but it is part of an even greater project celebrating all that we, as women, are.

So today, the first of several planned shoots for this exhibition took place – and it feels damn good to finally be moving forward on it.  I really enjoyed working with Sigrid, and am sooo looking forward to doing the remaining work on the pieces we’ve begun creating today.  I’d have liked to have started the post-shoot work already, but as I mentioned…  kinda busy with family.  😉

I have a few more shots planned out in my head for which I’m seeking the right “models”.  And no, I’m not looking for professional models.  I’m looking for real women, with stories, with lives, with histories…  And even if I don’t have something planned that would be right for YOU, and you are interested in participating, drop me a line.  Perhaps you will inspire the next shot in this project.

Here are a few things I know I’m looking for:

  • a nursing mother engaged in an extended breastfeeding relationship
  • a nursing mother currently nursing two children
  • a woman willing to appear in her skivies in a public place (nothing erotic, I promise)
  • a woman willing to be photographed in a body suit outdoors in Winter
  • any women with interesting hobbies or histories  (Sigrid was one who inspired me with her story, and the image/shoot was built around her)
  • a drag queen (drag queen’s may not be women but their art is in celebration of women)

This project excites me to my very core.  It will bring about questions for some, and answers for others.  It’s about finding unity amongst diversity, what makes us Women?  What defines us?  Where do we draw our strength?  How do we find our power?  It will be an amazing journey!

 

Shame on the city of Regina!

The girlie has been sick today, so I’m too exhausted to write much…  but I can’t let this go without saying something.

SHAME ON YOU REGINA!!!!

The city of Regina has turned off the power to the park where the Occupy encampment is set up.  Now, I don’t live in Regina – I’m proudly in Saskatoon…  but really???  Does the city even have the authority to turn off the power to the park when they aren’t the ones providing said power???

FOR SHAME REGINA!!!!

The Occupy encampment is a peaceful demonstration.  And not only are they not hurting anyone, they are educating people, and providing for the homeless of your city as well.  This is a difficult time of year for the homeless of Saskatchewan.  It’s getting colder, and the risks are getting greater.  The demand for overnight beds is increasing, and there simply aren’t enough places for everyone to go.  The Occupy encampment is providing a safe, welcoming space.

SHAME.

City officials take note.  Give back the porta-potty.  Give back the power.  Allow this small group of people who are doing nothing but good to continue their protest, to continue educating, and to continue providing for those that many of you would rather forget.  The folks who are involved in Occupy Regina should be supported, not torn apart.

Wow…  okay.  Perhaps I had more energy than I thought.  But really, this should be a no brainer.  Leave the people at the Occupy encampment in peace, and with what few amenities they have.  Turn the power back on.  It’s not costing the city a darn thing.

Our new rig…

YAY!  I’m a happy mommy today.  🙂  After much research and deliberation we purchased a new-to-us electric-assist bike (sometimes called an e-bike, or an electric bicycle) and a toddler-towing-bike-trailer.  We got a super good deal on the used electric-assist bike and found the trailer on sale.  So for a total of less than $450 we have a second vehicle.  Granted, it’s only going to be good for half the year… but still!  No GHG emissions, and an easy way for me and the girlie to get around during the day.  I’m excited!

Here’s Damon and Lily-Ann putting the trailer together in the front yard during sunset.  The wee girlie and I went around the block four times after it was all put together and hooked up – just to test it out.  🙂  It’s awesome!  Can’t wait to get out and about.  😀

wee girlie and her daddy putting the new bike trailer together

Our new rig. 😀

On a totally unrelated note:  I can’t believe it’s April 5th already!  Jeepers.  Where the heck has this year gone?  Soon it will be time for my mom and me to celebrate our birthdays, then it will be the Green Party of Saskatchewan’s AGM, and not long after that we’ll be full swing into Summer.  Jeepers.  I just don’t know where the time has gone.  Wow.

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