Tuesday, November 30, 2010

College Campuses and How They Deal With Rape Cases

Something I never understand is how people are so ridiculous with how they deal with rape victims and incidents on college campuses. A place where people should feel safe is at school. I now realize that this was an ideal concept. Somehow I felt safe at school and just because I didn't hear about rape happening while I went to Emerson didn't mean it didn't happen.

Until I read this article, I myself forgot about my own incident with sexual assault. Thankfully I prevented any harm to come to me, but while I was at BU I had a male friend come by on a Friday or Saturday night after he was drinking and he tried to force himself on me. I guess I kind of forget about it because nothing really did happen, but at the time I felt incredibly violated. I never reported it. I never even thought to. I remember other people in my residence hall thought I was crazy for thinking he even tried to sexually assault me. They thought I was just over-exaggerating, but the truth is that a person really can't over-exaggerate this type of situation if it truly scared them.

In the past year, a friend of mine also told me how she was sexually assaulted on campus by a male student who ripped her shirt open to expose her body in front of several students as well as saying extremely sexually explicit things to her. The act was caught on camera. My friend reported the situation after she and I had a long conversation about it. When she told me the counselor she spoke to told her that nothing was going to be done to rectify the situation. This type of negligence is what causes people to feel uncomfortable in their situations. My friend felt like she couldn't go to her work-study job because her assaulter was often there. In my situation, I left BU. Not just because of my assaulter, there were MANY more reasons, but he did add to my poor freshman year experience.

I sometimes also wonder why or how women are chosen as targets for sexual assault. As many of my friends know, I present myself with this tough bitch attitude, probably as defense mechanism against such situations. I figured that if pose myself as someone that cannot be taken advantage of then no one would try. However, I have also been told that this type of behavior can also make someone feel threatened and try to put me in my place by harming me in some way. This type of behavior is common, whether sexual assault is the method of harming another or not. Everyday, people put others down who threaten them etc to make themselves feel better. Ultimately, it is all about a control of power. The student who assaulted my friend was trying to show her how he has a right to something and to put her down and make her feel uncomfortable so he himself can feel more comfortable again.

But really... why is it that people seem ill equipped to deal with situations of this nature? It seems like if a person is a serial rapist something will be done to put him or her in their rightful place, but if you are a college student they almost dismiss these acts of violence and give them another chance to attack somebody else. It seems like these situations are too sticky that not many people want to get their hands dirty because if they do something to punish the assaulter, they may receive some wrathful consequences. But that doesn't make it right to not stand by and let it happen again. These are the types of situations that really make me reconsider giving up my creative aspirations and settle into counseling/social work so that at least there can be someone out there helping these kids who are turned away by their own schools. If you, the reader, EVER have a friend who comes to you with something like this, please urge them to come forward and find some justice. Even if the outcome is not what you wanted, it is important to at the very least have it on the record somewhere, so that it isn't an incident that can go completely forgotten or unknown.

If you want to read more of the article that fired me up to write this entry here it is:

Student Commits Suicide After Alleged Sexual Assault By Notre Dame Football Player

Read more: http://jezebel.com/5696455/student-commits-suicide-after-alleged-sexual-assault-by-notre-dame-football-player#ixzz16nFhOQeX

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Bride...

For as long as I can remember (especially in the past 9 months), I've been anti-wedding, anti-bride, anti-romance etc. However, I am going into the wedding photography industry... partly it fell into my lap because a number of my friends are beginning to start saying their "I do"s and they've known that I am a photographer.

Two weekends ago, I made the journey to South Royalton, Vermont to photograph my friends Amy and Dave's engagement photos. This past weekend, I joined my business partner and friend, Brian, to photograph his friends Ryan and Colleen's wedding. I have got to say that both Amy and Colleen are by no means the conventional bride, but both made me cry of joy for what they both have found. Both are strong women with vibrant personalities. I have known Amy since I was 11 and have seen her with Dave since we were 14... I knew what they had was real since I was about 15 or 16 years old and had a hunch that this was going to be a companionship that would last. Colleen I only got to know the day of her wedding. Throughout the day, I got to understand her relationship with Ryan, and with that single day I understood that it was similar to Amy and Dave's relationship in that it was a companionship that would last.

There is something to be said about both of these remarkable women... they both have been pursuing their dreams in their career paths as well as their love lives, which I feel is a characteristic that is not found in most women. I myself lose myself when I'm in a relationship with someone, but I think it is this sense of truth to one's self and one's desires that helps a relationship last. When you take the time for yourself and your needs then you can be truly happy, whether you are in a relationship or not... It is this that I celebrate in both of these women.

Below is a photograph I took of Colleen the day of her wedding on Franklin Town Common. I love how the light hits her veil and is making her glow. This glow delineates her happiness on this day. I could not help but smile and try to hold back tears of joy for both her and her groom. Congratulations Colleen and Ryan to finding one another and to your commitment to one another. It is truly something to celebrate.

Colleen, October 23, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Loss of a Great Female Role Model

On October 8th, 2010, my family and I suffered a significant loss. My grandmother passed away from fighting stomach cancer for the past 2 years. She died at the age of 89. She was an inspiration to both her kids and all her grandchildren. A generous, kind-hearted and especially loving woman. Her family meant everything to her and she always put all of us first before herself. I have a lot that I am still learning from my grandmother and will always continue to strive to live up to her example.

She was boundless and adventurous. She immigrated to America with my aunt, uncle and cousin in 1979. She worked as an x-ray technician during World War II and as a Russian to English translator at St. Elizabeth's hospital when she moved to Boston. She took so much pride in her family and all that we have become and always supported us to reach for our goals and dreams.

Tomorrow is her funeral and I'm not sure what will happen or how I will react, but I know she will always be in my heart and that she has touched my life because she helped make me who I am today. She was always so strong and I see her strength in myself.

I love you Grandma. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Alexandra Vinnikova
August 5, 1921 - October 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Please Help Pass the International Violence Against Women Act

A bill is currently pending in the U.S. Congress that could help millions of women in developing countries escape violence and poverty. The International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 4594, S. 2982) would make ending violence against women a diplomatic priority for the first time in U.S. history.

Please Tell Your Legislators to Support This Legislation: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/840/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2154

The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) would require all U.S. foreign assistance programs to take steps to reduce violence against women and girls. These steps could include promoting women's economic opportunity, addressing violence against girls in school, and working to change public attitudes. It would require the U.S. government to respond in a timely manner to critical outbreaks of gender-based violence in armed conflict - such as the mass rapes now occuring in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And by investing in local women's organizations overseas that are succesfully working to reduce violence in their communities, the International Violence Against Women Act would have a huge impact on reducing poverty - empowering millions of women in poor countries to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Amy Littlefield...

I spent part of this past weekend with a friend from high school... A wonderful feminist blogger/reporter/guitarist who time and time again had a profound effect on my life. Amy and I met when we were in high school and bonded over music. As we grew up she has never left my mind even though we have gone in and out of each others lives. She is a woman of many talents and always strives to achieve what she wants.

Amy is currently a report for the Brockton Enterprise as well as a writer for Gender Across Borders, an online feminist blog. Amy is also a singer, guitarist and song writer. In high school, Amy used to make me mix tapes of the songs she wrote and I continue to listen to them to this day. I have been constantly inspired by Amy since we were 14-15 years old for her independence, tenacity and multi-faceted interests. Although we do not see each other as often as we used to, I embrace every moment I spend with her. The idea behind these photos of Amy is finding her utopia which is in a chaos of papers, journals and her guitar. Here are a few images from the photo shoot:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

See It Split, See It Change

The title of this post precisely describes my sister and I. You see people split, you see people change. My twin sister and I have split on an emotional/personal plane when we were 16 years old and physically split since we were 19 years old. A mere 5-8 years of our lives and yet we are completely different people. I have been reading Abigail Pogrebin's One And The Same, a book about twins and how they are alike, how they're different, how they react to one other's presence, etc.

Throughout reading the book, I kept thinking to myself about how interesting it is to read about how much of a bond these twins have that were interviewed for the book... how they finish each other's sentences, get in similar lines of work and cannot stand living too far apart from one another. Some of them even LIVE together into their later years. I started to question why my own twin sister and I didn't have a similar bond to the ones I read about.

The author looked into some twins studies results and these particularly interested me:

Aggression: mostly genetic
moderately inheritable

Bipolar disorder: identical twins more concordant
identical twins who stay more in touch live longer than identical twins who don't

strongly genetic component

strong genetic link

50 percent genetic

identical twins are more similar to each other than fraternal twins and become more alike in intelligence as they age. Dr. Nancy Segal cites the finding that "identical twins are nearly as alike in IQ as the same person tested twice."

Job choice: identical twins choose more similar careers than fraternal twins
Left-handedness: more frequent among identical twins
Loneliness: 50 percent of identical twins and 25 percent of fraternal twins shared similar characteristics
mostly genetic

Sleep patterns:
identical twins are more similar than fraternal

Social life:
the identical twin who has a tight-knit social circle is in better overall physical health than the one who doesn't

I found the job choice similarity particularly interesting. Mostly because Lisa and I are on completely two different planes with our jobs/social lives/lifestyles. I know that not ALL twins choose similar careers, but that's where the question for me of nature vs. nurture comes to me because it seems so obvious that career paths are not inherent but they are made. My sister went to Boston University and majored in International Relations, Economics and Spanish. She now works for a notable senator in Washington DC and lives what I would like to think as my 23 year old self, a very grown up lifestyle. I on the other hand, transferred from Boston University to Emerson College and majored in Film Production with a minor in Photography. I currently work for Newbury Comics as a fashion buyer and continue to have similar lifestyle patterns from college. This just goes to show much environment matters to people as they are growing older.

When I was 16 years old, I was taking the SATs the first weekend of May in my junior year of high school. I made the conscious decision that day that I wanted to smoke pot for the first time. I believe this choice is what really divided us physically for the first time. I think I just got sick of the pressure of perfection that I felt from my family. I also stopped having the need to compete with my sister so instead I choose to rebel in the most extreme way I knew how. I started hanging out with a crowd my twin sister didn't understand nor conversed with. It was the first time I had my own set of friends and did things separately from Lisa and it was invigorating to have people know me for who I am as an individual rather than as a set. My values changed pretty quickly and severely. Suddenly getting all A's didn't matter so much. The tension at home got worse because my family didn't understand what was happening to me or what I was doing.

As kids we were the best of friends. We would play with our Barbies and if someone as so much entered the room we would promptly yell at them and kick them out (them being my grandmother, mother or father). They were not hurt by our reaction. They in fact enjoyed it. They loved seeing how much we loved and cared for one another, because back then there was nothing to compare each other about. There was no competition. Our competitive nature came out more in middle school when my mom put us both in rhythmic gymnastics and there was a clear division between the two of us. That division was then more apparent in our grades, our attitudes, our appearances... we were compared to the other about everything and it drove me crazy. I just needed to cut out my own little piece of this world for myself.

Lisa simply decided to choose a more socially-acceptable path (a path that is well understood by my parents and peers) and I diverted to art/film. I still feel the judgement from my family for making this choice just because they simply don't understand it and do not make the effort to understand it. So basically I found it interesting how much our environments changed us. My mom both raised us the same, threw us in the same activities etc, but it was the people I surrounded myself with that changed me, which I suppose one can say is an innate decision I made. I just chose a lifestyle that is a bit more of a risk which I think I may be the one who has taken the greatest risks in my family. My sister certainly would not have chosen this lifestyle because of the risk of not being able to pay bills on time etc.

I'm happy to say I wouldn't change any of it. Every experience I have had greatly benefited me and made me understand more about what I want out of life. I originally thought we would be more similar (and frankly we are still EXTREMELY similar in our mannerisms, stubborn nature, etc), but our values are polar opposites and that is what ultimately separates us now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jewish-Palestinian sent to jail for deceiving an Israeli woman....


This article baffles me. A man is being sent to 18 months in jail for misleading an Israeli woman about his true race... yes he misled her into thinking that he too is Israeli rather than Palestinian but I cannot see how this can be rape? If this is considered rape then there certainly are a lot more rapists out there... men deceive women constantly to participate in sexual encounters... as do women for that matter. So where is the line drawn? It states in the article:

"The question is whether the state should punish somebody in that situation. It puts the law in the position of what could loosely be described as discrimination. I would feel intuitively uncomfortable about prosecuting someone for something like that."

This case comes down to the Israeli versus Palestinian conflict rather than deception. If there was not such a large rivalry between the two ethnic backgrounds I'm sure that this case would've been dropped from the start. So really this is about prejudice. Israeli-Palestinians live in constant fear of being harassed simply for being Palestinian so they live in disguise. So this supposed rapist is now being persecuted to a high degree simply for trying to survive in a highly prejudiced society.

This is the part of the article that really gets me...

"If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have co-operated," Mrs Segal said as she delivered her verdict.

WHO has sex with a RANDOM STRANGER if she was interested in a serious romantic relationship?

I realize that this entry isn't entirely about feminism... but it interests me that a woman is sending a man to jail for deceiving her when she is probably just angry with herself for having sex with a stranger and did not know his ethnic background. These are the type of women that give our gender a bad reputation... for crying wolf when you should have been a bit smarter about the situation you were getting yourself into. Yes this man lied to her, but she should have had the common sense that involving herself in a sexual encounter with this man could lead her into something she didn't ultimately want to get herself involved with. Have more self-respect for yourself.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interesting article on how appearance matters in the workforce

Link: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/19/the-beauty-advantage.html

This article intrigued me... women inherently care about their appearance (as do men) but now there is more evidence that women who are more attractive/care about their appearance are more likely to be hired over a less attractive but possibly more qualified woman... it really irks me that even in what is called today's progressive society, such characteristics from the 50's still exist in our present. A woman still seems like she is not held as an important asset for her brain rather than her features. In the article it was stated that "When it comes to women, apparently, flaunting our assets works: 61 percent of managers (the majority of them men) said it would be an advantage for a woman to wear clothing showing off her figure at work." The same goes for men in the workforce, however, I cannot image them feeling the pressure nearly as much as women do simply because men already have the upperhand of being male.

I have definitely felt the pressures of looking attractive versus unattractive at work as well. I noticed that when I wore a dress or wore makeup I got more done/more out of my supervisors/peers rather than if I were to come in wearing a t-shirt and jeans. It seems strange to me because either way I would be doing the same kind of work and it is not like I try harder when I look more attractive one day... I do the same work day in and day out, but my appearance changes how fast I get that stuff done, especially when working with a male in a supervisory role. It is not always an entirely apparent thing... just when I look back I notice it.

But there is also the reality that however hard men have it—and, from an economic perspective, their “beauty premium” is higher, say economists—women will always face a double bind, expected to conform to the beauty standards of the day, yet simultaneously condemned for doing so.

This statement is what really irks me. Women are supposed to uphold these unattainable beauty standards, but then can also be condemned for being beautiful and be labeled as bimbos. It seems so easy to slip in either direction that it is almost impossible for woman to be taken seriously. WHEN will women be praised for their minds rather than their bodies?

EDIT: I will be conducting an experiment this week where I will try harder to care about my appearance and see what kind of a response I receive. This means I will actually have to wear makeup, which I haaaaaaaaaaate doing during the summer months because honestly it's just too uncomfortable, but for the sake of the experiment I will make this sacrifice... today is day 1. Let's see how this plays out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The project is going well.

I met a fantastic woman this past weekend, Toni Saunders who has become my new hero. She is an activist that strives to improve education for those who are mentally handicapped, something that not many people do nor think about. Photos will come with the next update... I will also be going to visit her on the Cape later this summer to spend more time with her and getting to know her more on a personal level... part of what I really love about this project is that I'm getting to know all these women and am forming friendships with them. There is a lot that I'm taking from each woman because they are all so powerful, independent and inspiring even though they are all so very different.

I'm off to DC to spend some time with my twin sister, Lisa and to also continue photographing her. She seems to be ultra aware of the camera being present so hopefully my coming to DC and photographing her for a whole weekend will make her forget that the camera is there and she will let her guard down. This is a technique I learned from reading Annie Leibovitz's At Work book. When she was on tour with the Rolling Stones, at first they were ultra aware of the camera but as time passed, they grew to be more comfortable with Annie being there as well as the camera snapping photos.

I will also have a photo shoot with my friend Kelly the week after. She is a regular participant in the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Harvard Square as well as a producer. That photo shoot will be interesting as well. We're photographing her as the before and after Janet.

That is all for now... I'm DC bound!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


So my sister came up to visit in Boston recently and we did one of what I believe will be a number of shoots. The idea was to create a mirror like depiction between the two of us and this is the closest we came:
Although this was a fun shoot and the photo is really great, it does not possess enough depth for my project... and neither do any of the other photos we took that day... That's okay though because with this experience I am closer to what I am looking for.

I spent this past weekend in New York City going to art museums, something I'm trying to do more regularly to educate myself on art/photography as well as find inspiration in other artists' works. I saw Picasso's Girl Before A Mirror at the MoMA and immediately realized that the photos of Lisa and I don't have the depth of Picasso's painting which is below:

His painting shows a friction between the two women which is what I need to find/create in my images of Lisa and I. I need to create that push/pull effect that makes us who we are. Basically, I need to put myself further out on a limb.

Diane Arbus's photo of the twins below create this distinct tension. You automatically know they are twins, but it is their expressions that really make this photo. This photo is memorable because of it's haunting nature... the expressions of these twins make us wonder what is it that makes one of them smile and the other frown? What makes them different? This the ultimate question that I as a twin hear all the time...

The photo has been said to sum up Arbus’ vision. Biographer Patricia Bosworth said, "She was involved in the question of identity. Who am I and who are you? The twin image expresses the crux of that vision: normality in freakishness and the freakishness in normality."

It's interesting to me to find the above quote because I guess in a way I'm asking the same question and I had no idea that Diane Arbus's work was questioning identity at all... I always thought of her as the photographer who finds the freaks in society and shoots them... but now it's just another artist to look into.

I've been talking to my mentor Chris about the images over email and he asked:

So, what have you and she actually experienced about this issue of being twins?

Have you ever actually spent time, spontaneously as children, trying to understand the differences?

Was there an experience of doubt, or of complete blending?

Using your imagination to create from those kinds of lived moments would be the place to start..

I responded back with:

I'm not sure what she has experienced... we never seemed to really
talk about our twinship really before. All I know is what I have
experienced and that is feeling tension, competition and doubt. I
always felt like I lived in the shadow of my sister because I never
felt good enough. It's probably why I deviated so much from her and
chose to be more of an individual because the twin thing was actually
emotionally wrecking me. Rather than have a close relationship, I felt
like my mother turned us against each other, using a kind of divide
and conquer method with us so that we couldn't keep developing our
close relationship with each other. There has always been a sense of
longing for a relationship like that for me at least... I deal with it
every day and search for a replacement for it almost... that may be
why I'm trying to reconnect with her now. I felt like we completely
became the same person for a long while, but that was because my own desires were invalidated or repressed because my mother was a single
mom trying to give us much to us as she could. So she threw us into
the same activities all the time and I felt lesser than my sister.
I've had this jealousy for the majority of my life... yet a desire to
rise above the jealousy and to have that closeness with her is
something I desire more than anything else. I have no idea how to
depict this insecurity, because really all that I just wrote describes
my side of the relationship with her. I feel like I'm having a really
hard time putting my thoughts and feelings into images...

This is the type of push/pull I am looking to further in my images... I also seem to overthink my process to much and do not let the work flow... I'm thinking too much about what is the right thing to do in my photos when there is no real right or wrong answer... just that I should be able to back up my work...

Chris responded to me with:

The right thing is most likely to be the approved or familiar thing and it may be time to let that go and venture into simply doing Kat.

As for what to do... well, as we've been writing today,
I've seen images emerging,
becoming more complex with "mother-like" forms
rising and dissolving
between two like but unlike souls
who had a time that was theirs,
in a room usually reserved for privacy,
but had that time taken away......
and now are striving for reunion
but not as a One anymore...

It's time for dreamtime and doing Kat....

It's time to let go of my inhibitions and limitations...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interesting article on African American women/Thoughts on Strong Women in Today's Society

This is kind of related to my project... just seems like black women are stereotyped as just simply being loud and obese.


The above article was written in response to this article (both written by the same person):


"...found that black women's fealty to black men has helped create an imbalance that penalizes them. And that a combination of forces — online social networks, integrated neighborhoods and workplace diversity — are tempting them to look elsewhere for partnership."

The author of this article is a single middle-aged black woman and also faces the same types of issues. This intrigues me a little... what is the real cause for these women to look for partnership outside their race? Is that these women have been taught to be strong, opinionated women and their former prospective partners just can't seem to handle these types of strong personalities? Is it because women, and in this case in particular, that black women have become stronger figures and society and have surpassed their male counterparts?

It seems to me that more and more each day, I notice strong women are without male partnership. This became especially apparent to me while I was watching the Oscars this past year. This was the first time that a female director won the Best Director award. Kathryn Bigelow won for the The Hurt Locker (which this film in and of itself surprised me that a female directed it and could really get to the heart of male camaraderie in the army). When they were announcing the nominees at the award ceremony, each male nominated had a female partner on their arm, but Kathryn stood out to me not only for being the only female nominated, but also for not having a date to the Oscars (she was also previously married to one of the other nominees for the same category). It's not like I felt bad for her. It felt more empowering than anything else. She didn't seem to need to prove anything to anyone. She is who she is and on top of that is highly successful with her career.

There are very few well known female directors in the film industry. Only three women have been nominated for the Best Director award in the past. Bigelow won the Oscar over such highly acclaimed directors such as James Cameron (for Avatar) and Quentin Tarantino (for Inglorious Bastards). I don't believe I ever even heard of Kathryn Bigelow until the ceremony. Just seems to me that whenever there are strong women receiving some of the spotlight in any industry, workplace, social event, etc that some are quick to judge/try to suppress these women for their vibrant independence.

In the second article posted at the top of this entry gives a direct example of how women are being suppressed for having a voice:

Darryl James is a black author and radio host who sponsors forums on "black love." Discussions are sometimes so heated that he reminds people on the invitations to be civil.

He contends that it's not so much a lack of "good black men," but changing social patterns that have made it harder for black people in their 30s and 40s to partner up. And the mainstream attention, he says, just makes the problem worse: "All this whining on 'Oprah' demoralizes black men and makes the women look angry and desperate."

James was the sponsor of the forum at the L.A. Athletic Club last year. And his advice to the women there made a certain kind of sense.

"Turn the volume down," he said. "Lose the attitude."

I think it is the easy way out to say that women look angry and desperate and whiny for stating that there is a lack of good men in today's society. Isn't it possible, that maybe it is actually true? Maybe there are less partners to pair up with... maybe women are just more vocal about their frustrations than men are and then automatically classified as being angry.It surprises me that the female writer of this article seems to agree to a certain extent about women having to turn down the volume. There never seems to be any real good way of getting this point across because every time a woman starts mentioning it, people roll their eyes and tell them to shut up. It seems that as women gain more power in society, men feel more and more demoralized and threatened, and thus resort to stating women are angry and desperate for saying they cannot find male counterparts.

I spoke to a male friend about my findings and he stated that in order for women to find male partners, women should lower their standards of men. But why should we? If we're so strong, we're looking for men who are just as strong if not stronger because that is how society has programmed women to look for a male partner. I personally want to find someone as strong as I am to have someone to keep up with and the same for them to be able to keep up with me. But should we settle for anything less than what we want? If men cannot be happy with successful women, why should women pretend to be happy with men who do not meet their needs or standards, or even worse, why should women dumb themselves down to look like a more pleasing candidate for dating? This seems like a lose-lose situation, however, I am not entirely sure how it could ever change unless we deprogram ourselves and stop feeling threatened by someone's success or guilty for being successful.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Woman’s Worth is Measured by Her Cup Size: The Gender Policing of Delphine Ravisé-Giard

This is an interesting article written by a good friend of mine... it begins the exploration of how women are measured/perceived and I feel like this has a direct correlation to what my project is about... give it a read!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

A good friend/journalist/subject for the project gave me an interesting suggestion:

There's an exercise we used to do in the Female Sexuality workshop I facilitated where we would have two people sit across from each other, and the first would ask "Who are you?" repeatedly to the second for 1-2 minutes, and the second person would have to come up with original answers each time. After the obvious "I am a sister," "I am a woman," etc., some strange things would come out (i.e. "I am terrified of my next step in my life.")

I'm really excited to use this exercise on my subjects. I will be interviewing 2 people this Saturday, both my sister and a therapist and will try to this exercise on both of them and see what I come up with.

She also suggested talking to my subjects to give them a general idea of what I am looking for and what kinds of questions I am asking, which I've been doing generally but I will go a little further in depth with it before meeting with them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Interview Questions

So a friend of mine asked me to post my interview questions here... I would definitely love feedback from anyone who has a moment to give and thinks that I'm missing anything vital? These are pretty basic. Depending on each woman the questions will slightly change.

What does identity mean to you?
How do you identify yourself?
What does it mean to you to be a woman in today's society?
How do you believe women are perceived in today's society? How are you specifically perceived?
What childhood experiences can you recall that have contributed to your identity today?
Do you have any siblings? How would you identify them? How have they contributed to your identity?
How has your family contributed to your identity?

The problem I am finding with these questions is that they seem to be trying to be gathering data rather than getting to the heart of subject. A photographer friend/mentor has been giving me advice on how to make the questions more personal. He stated in an email:

If you then asked me to filter out the obvious ways that I am both different and the same: I'm older today than yesterday and I have the same name as before- I would then have to probe myself to consider how to explain the fact that I don't really know who I am in the first place so it's hard to state clearly how I'm both the same and different.

See what I mean? The more you play into people's expectations regarding questions like this, the more you allow them to stay in a comfort zone and your answers will remain information rather than insights.

I totally agree with him and want to probe further at my subjects to get underneath the skin and get a more emotional response. I'm rethinking questions such as these:

When you woke up today, did you feel different from when you woke up yesterday?
How are you different today than you were from a month ago? a year ago? 5 years ago?
What types of things/situations/experiences cause you to innately smile?

Other than rethinking my questions, my project is continuing to move along. I will be interviewing a psychologist this weekend to get a more formal idea of identity. I'm excited to see what this interview could add to this project.

I'm continuing to find women who seem to be interested in being involved in the project, which I was not expecting and am very excited to see these subjects' innate identities come out to speak to me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The adventure begins!

So I'm creating this blog to document the process of my current project on the female identity, namely, my own search for identity.

The Project:

I interview my subjects and videotape the conversation. I have generated some basic questions but they definitely require more thought. I want to provoke deep emotion from my subjects and find what makes them tick and what makes each of them unique.

The second part of the project is to photograph each subject as how society perceives her and as she perceives herself. This could be 2 more images, but could extend to several images of the subject depending on how she classifies herself. If the subject classifies herself as society perceives her than 1 image will suffice, however, I'd like to think that women have several layers and possess multiple identities, but I suppose it isn't a bad thing if how society perceives her is how she perceives herself. That in itself could prove to be interesting.

This is fairly new ground for me as a photographer since I do not normally set up my images nor do I usually take portraits. Although I am not skilled in either of these arenas yet, I find a very strong connection to this project already. I find it interested how women are treated/viewed/discussed/delineated in today's society and I am impressed every day with how we deal with the pressures of being female on a day to day basis.

I have also taken an interesting twist on the project and decided to make it more personal. As I continue documenting women over the next several months, I plan to create video diary entries in addition to this blog to document my own personal growth. I too will be a subject in this search for identity, since that is what ultimately what started this project rolling. I have a number of other subjects on board and am constantly looking for more women of all ages, races, ethnicity, socio-economic backgrounds, sexualities.

My First Subject:

I have conducted my first interview with my first subject and friend named Kelly. The interview was alright, but I definitely feel like I can get more with more thought provoking questions. I understood coming into this project that my first couple interviews will be more rocky before I understand what I'm really trying to accomplish and what kind of answers I'm after so I'm currently rethinking my questions.

Today, Kelly took me down to the Animal Rescue League of Boston and I got to understand a bit more about what she does at her job and what the Animal Rescue League does as a whole. I walked around the facility and got to meet some of the animals being rescued/treated/sheltered by the facility.

This is Kelly and Sidney!

This pretty lady is Lolita! Her tongue is a little too big for her mouth!

Kelly and Lolita

Fruit Loop

Then I got to play with Sidney!

This is only the beginning of a long adventure ahead into meeting subjects, whether it's via cold calling, through friends or just meeting someone who strikes my interest... if you know of someone who might be interested in being a part of the project please let me know. My email is kat.frumin@gmail.com.