One night I dreamt of looking at a series of paintings where this surreal landscape was portrayed. Later on, while... Read More
One night I dreamt of looking at a series of paintings where this surreal landscape was portrayed. Later on, while I was bringing these pictures from my mind onto the papers, I started to realize what I was painting: a journey from the perpetration of sexual violence to healing through art and activism.
I deconstructed the female body, with specific body parts characterizing every stage: boobs and vaginas for Objectification; eyes and mouths for Acknowledgement; hands and ears for Action.
These three stages are connected together through a menstrual river that flows into a sort of womb that contains a hand smeared with colorful paint representing self-determination.
So, starting from the first stage: Objectification. That's the stage of victimization. In other words, a woman is a passive object of the male desire, stripped of her agency, and not an active subject. That's the reason why breasts and female genitalia characterize this stage. Indeed, the male gaze within a sexist paradigm morbidly focuses on these female body parts as they were designed just for that, to give pleasure to men. And it's, as a matter of fact, this delusional feeling of entitlement too many men still grow up with that lead some of them to act their violent desire against women and girls.
Thus, we get to the second stage: Acknowledgement. That's the most complex and delicate stage for most survivors. It can last decades and even all one's life. Too many women remain stuck in it, in a precarious balance between so many conflicting emotions they can try to cope with ineffective and even self-destructive strategies. It's like a limbo you stay into until you decide to listen to your actual feelings and ask for help. For instance, it took 19 years for me to admit I was sexually abused by my grandfather as a child. When it happened, I found out that it was in some way known by some relatives and friends, but no adult had taken me seriously. So, that I probably started believing it was not real, too. Anyway, from the moment I accepted the truth of my trauma to an actual awareness, I had to wait for another 10 years.
So, this stage is represented by eyes and mouths because they are the most telling parts of ourselves. They are portals that connect the outer world with our inner reality. In fact, through our mouths and eyes, we not only spontaneously express our feelings, but we can also act on them to provoke a reaction in the other. They allow others to read ourselves, and in the meantime, we can use them to take our agency back.
The third and last stage is Action. I chose hand for this stage because art is the best therapeutical means to heal from trauma while raising awareness of its social roots. And, of course, there cannot be either art or healing without listening. Ears play an active role in our life. Our capacity to listen to our inner self and others is a superpower we're left with when we start to act on our trauma. A greater understanding, and therefore acceptance of ourselves, will grow our empathy toward others, and that's the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.
As you can see, this stage doesn't end. As a matter of fact, it's the beginning of something. An eternal pregnancy without a birth because there is no full recovery from the trauma. Healing is a long-life work in progress.