Thoughts on Conversational Sexism

I talked about my upcoming show back in April and and then again in May with a photo update. In the April post, I dug into how this project got started and showed both the prototypes I worked on and the beginnings of what I have now. So if you want to read the initial question that kicked off this project and see the original set of phrases/sentences, that’s a great place to start. This post is about the personal impact this work has had on me. I’ll do another post with technical details of how and what I did a bit later.

I’ve been living with these words and this conversation for ten months. And while I can’t measure the impact the events represented in my show have had on the people these works represent, I can say that for me it has felt very much like a sacred undertaking. These women entrusted me with their stories. Those stories have left deep marks on them and on me. I’ve thought about the experiences that we women share and marveled at our individual strength and our combined power. Regardless of how small the world tries to make us, we defy it in big and small ways every single day. We are so much more than the world ever allows us to be.

I’ve felt so many things over the months as I’ve worked on this show. Anger at the loss of physical safety and sense of self these women have experienced. Disgust that these stories are so common as to be unsurprising. Deep sadness for the pain and shame women I love carry with them daily because of the actions of others. Fear that I’m not best representing the words they’ve entrusted me with. Fear that the show will not be well received and that I haven’t handled the material with the justice it deserves. Relief that I’ve finished. Even where it might not be done as well as I’d liked or hoped, I’ve accomplished telling the story I set out to tell.

I’ve thought about the world my daughter is going to be moving into as she gets older, and it makes me so angry that she will have to fight to be heard when she speaks. That she will be judged and doubted because she is female and smart and lovely. That she will make less for doing the same job as a man. That she will have to fight for minimum healthcare standards because she has ovaries. That she will have to monitor people she dates for betrayal. I hate this version of the world already, and she’s still a child.

But rising above all of these emotions, I am hopeful. I’m using my voice to talk about what women everywhere face and to shine a light where darkness festers. I am hopeful that by speaking out, people’s eyes will be opened and the shame will lessen. I am hopeful that the stories we are telling will find open hearts and minds. I am hopeful that we women will realize our strength and not be afraid to speak out for ourselves, our sisters, our daughters, and our mothers. I am hopeful that by speaking out we will fashion a better future for all of us.