Women in Art – Tilda Swinton

I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Always striking, often defies gender and even sometimes human appearance, and she’s talented as hell. W Magazine just did a kickass piece on her, full of some sensational photography. Always challenging what “woman” is, and playing with the lines of alienation, popularity and just plain “cool”, it’s Tilda Swinton.

Click here for W Magazine spread.

Featured Woman in Art – iamamiwhoami

Now that I’m in Scandinavia I’ve come into contact with some killer art and music that unfortunately never seems to make it across the ocean to the states, where the pop culture scene is slowly turning into a Jerry Lewis telethon desperately calling for help in the originality department. ESPECIALLY when it comes to women artists. Frankly I’m tired of hearing about life “in the club” and demands to be yourself when you can’t tell the singer from the H&M-on-acid clad dancers, with the exception of a little more tits or a little more synthetic hair shown.

Thank God for iamamiwhoami, fronted by Jonna Lee. My best friend Sarah got me into her not 24 hours ago and I can’t stop listening and re-listening and re-watching. The videos are noted for their abstract concepts, seriously hauntng images, their use of animals, numeric codes and spookily lone letters as titles. My favorite one at the moment is the increasingly melodic, frenetic and fairy-esque “t”. The video makes me think of Anton Corbijn with color and more estrogen. She’s my new favorite artist and featured Woman in Art.

I welcome all suggestions for featured women in art, the stranger, the better. I will plug the hell out of them here. Just message me!

The Bitch is Back…

Hi friends — if I still have any on this site — and hello to the strangers who tumble onto this blog taking some shelter from the netstorm.

What the fuck happened?

I got married, for starters heheh. I got engaged in 2009 as some of you may remember, and moved to Norway in June 2010. I’ve been playing the get-settled game since then. I’m now working freelance as an editor and translator, proofer, writer, and all things Adobe-er. Building a client base has been slow, but the few I do have are fantastic and well known in their fields. I’m primarily working for people in the film and advertising industries.

I had a very affecting experience last year on the woman front, so to speak. I had ovarian surgery, my very first surgery as well, and it all brought me to a very compelling and occasionally scary place in my own personal evolution. The experience of being anesthetized alone is worth a thousand blog entries. But anyway, all is well, I am in good health again, married life is good.

I am working on new material for two projects and looking for full time work. This is pretty much my day these days.

Celeste

Mother

On this day where we celebrate the #1 Women in our lives, please remember how much work there is to do for every woman to be as loved as we love “mother”, whoever that woman is for you. Happy Mother’s Day.

I’ve been spending the afternoon reading about women and came back to the V-Day movement, reading about women of the Congo, reading about the women in Haiti, and the girls bought and sold in cities and far-flung nowheres in Asia. I don’t think that I will ever grow an emotional “callus” to hearing these stories and I hope I never do. But something in me has shifted, because before, when I would start to hear women and children’s stories about violence, rape, displacement, etc., I would tune out or leave the room or nod in some kind of solidarity and try to find out more on how I could help or do something. But now I want to listen. Listening is such an integral part in understanding, and developing, and doing.

There are hundreds of vids on YouTube about what’s going on in the Congo and all over the world. I will not choose one over another.

Women for Women International has been eye-opening.

Suggested reading:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn.

Margaret Moth RIP

I didn’t know anything about this woman til I just read this story on CNN. A compelling life and I’m glad she enjoyed and was present and active in her life. I doubt she’ll “rest”, for such a spirit will likely come back the MOMENT it can, heheh. But for now, rest in peace Margaret.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/03/21/margaret.moth.obit/index.html?hpt=C1

(CNN) — Simply put, Margaret Moth made an impression.

Given her jet-black hair, thick black eyeliner, black clothes and combat boots (which she often slept in while on assignment), people didn’t always know what to think upon meeting her. She was quirky, the sort who excused herself from a social gathering by saying she had to wash her socks. And she was fearless, the kind of woman who not only kept the camera rolling while under fire, but zoomed in on a soldier who was shooting at her.

Colleagues learned quickly to appreciate all that this CNN camerawoman was. Beyond her rich personality, which included deep optimism and kindness, she brought to her profession top-notch technical abilities, unmatched dedication and an approach to work that inspired others to push themselves.

Moth sought out, even demanded, assignments in conflict zones. She barely survived being shot in the face in Sarajevo in 1992, only to go back as soon as she was physically able. The multiple reconstructive surgeries that followed, as well as the hepatitis C she contracted from a consequent blood transfusion, were mere obstacles she moved around.

But more than three years after being diagnosed with colon cancer, her tremendous life journey has come to an end.

Moth, known for her gutsiness, striking appearance, distinctive humor and sense of fun, died early Sunday in Rochester, Minnesota. She was 59.

“Dying of cancer, I would have liked to think I’d have gone out with a bit more flair,” she said with a laugh last spring during an interview with a CNN documentary crew that had traveled to Texas, where she was visiting friends.

“The important thing is to know that you’ve lived your life to the fullest,” she said then, before tubing down a river in Austin, Texas; taking jaunts to Cape Cod and the Canadian Rockies; and piloting a houseboat up the Mississippi River — replete with beer and Cuban cigars. “I don’t know anyone who’s enjoyed life more.”
Born Margaret Wilson in Gisborne, New Zealand, to a homemaker and a man who made swimming pools, she got her first camera at age 8. She later changed her name to Margaret Gipsy Moth, a nod to the airplane, which was appropriate for a woman who had a penchant for jumping out of planes, barefoot.

She said she never aspired to be a photojournalist. Rather her path, she explained, was mostly driven by a love of history and her desire to see it unfold firsthand.

Whether she was amid rioters after Indira Gandhi’s assassination or covering a long menu of wars spanning continents, Moth felt she and her colleagues were the lucky ones.

“You could be a billionaire, and you couldn’t pay to do the things we’ve done,” said Moth, who had most recently called Istanbul, Turkey, home.

Reported to be New Zealand’s first camerawoman, she came to the U.S. and worked for KHOU in Houston, Texas, for about seven years before moving to CNN in 1990.

When other photojournalists dived behind cars as militiamen opened fire on protesters in Tbilisi, Georgia, she stood her ground and kept her camera running. As a band of medical professionals defied Israeli tanks and armored vehicles, marching into then-Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat’s compound in the West Bank, she got in the middle of the group, joined them and helped nab an exclusive interview. When many around her slept in Sarajevo, she set to work in a destroyed hotel room, filming with a night scope through holes blown out by artillery fire, hiding herself and camera from the eyes of snipers.

The Serbian sniper bullet that did hit Moth while she was traveling along “sniper alley” in Sarajevo shattered her jaw, blew out her teeth and destroyed a portion of her tongue — which left her forever sounding like she was drunk, she said.

Others got angry, as the van she traveled in was clearly marked as a press vehicle, but she refused to go there.

” ‘We came into their war. Fair’s fair,’ ” former CNN correspondent Stefano Kotsonis, who was with her when she was shot, remembered her saying. ” ‘I don’t blame anyone for firing at me. They’re in a war, and I stepped into it.’ ”

Her attitude made other colleagues, many of whom were interviewed for the documentary “Fearless: The Margaret Moth Story,” strive to be better at what they did. Sound techs and correspondents would often follow her lead, whether they felt ready or not. She was known to outrun her own security. Photojournalists viewed her as a bar-setter.

Another of CNN’s international camerawomen remembers Moth

Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, who’d been away from Sarajevo when her friend was shot, was sitting at Moth’s hospital bedside when an assignment editor from the international desk called. He wanted to know if Amanpour was ready to return to the conflict zone, she recalled for the documentary about Moth.

“I said I’d go back, and I know to this day that if I hadn’t said yes then, I probably never would have gone back, and I never would have done this career. But I said yes because I couldn’t say no,” Amanpour remembered, fighting back tears. “We did the work for her. We did it because she was our champion, and we wanted to be her champion.”

Sure enough, as soon as Moth could carry a camera again, six months later, she went straight back to Sarajevo to join her CNN colleagues. She joked that she was there to find her teeth.

Moth maintained her humor amid madness and helped others smile and unwind when the surroundings could make levity seem impossible.

She enlisted a producer to go rollerblading with her on the marble floors of a Baghdad, Iraq, hotel lobby. She forced colleagues to tell her who they’d rather sleep with, while giving them horrifying choices. She liked to kick back with fine cigars and could drink others under the table.

Despite her tough exterior, there was insecurity, a vanity to her. No matter where she was, Moth rose early to do her eye makeup and hair. Forever worried about her weight, she picked at a block of cheese in Bosnia for about six weeks and got by on mango juice during a stretch in the West Bank.

She admitted that after being shot, she was more afraid of what she’d look like than she was of dying. Enveloped in bandages, she slipped her dear friend Joe Duran a note asking him if she looked like a monster.

But she often worried about others more than herself.

Moth enjoyed working with seasoned correspondents but also looked out for those who were new. In Pakistan, she taught Patty Sabga to sleep behind couches and talked her through everything she was shooting to help Sabga build her stories. And in Afghanistan, she carefully led the former CNN correspondent through rubble that probably hid land mines.

“She took such incredible care of me and taught me so much,” Sabga said. “I can honestly say that the work I did with Margaret Moth is still the very best work of my career.”

Moth repeatedly visited the doctor who saved her life. And she boosted the spirits and changed the attitude of another CNN photojournalist, David Allbritton, when he was seriously injured by a bomb in Sarajevo in 1995.

“She made me realize that I was going to get through this,” he said. “She set an example by overcoming everything that’s happened to her. … I took that example, and I’m shooting today. I’m not sure that I would be doing what I’m doing today if it had not been for Margaret Moth.”

Her chosen lifestyle didn’t leave room for children of her own, but she bonded with them across the globe. And her love of animals was so deep that she refused to ride in a horse-pulled wagon, preferring to run with heavy equipment in the desert heat while on assignment in Petra, Jordan.

In fact, when it became clear that the advanced cancer would end her life, the concern that drove her to tears was her cats — the more than 25 strays she looked after in Istanbul.

“She was more upset about them than she was about dying,” said Duran, who rushed to her side after she’d been medevaced out of Sarajevo. But when Duran, also a CNN cameraman, moved into her home in Turkey with the promise that he’d care for the cats, he said Moth told him, ” ‘Now I can die happy.’ ”

Duran was by Moth’s side when she died. He said he will be taking her ashes back to Istanbul, where he will place them in her garden, beside a photograph of her. There, as she wanted, she’ll be able to hang out with her cats.

There were a few things Moth wished she had done. She would have liked to have seen the Krak des Chevaliers, a medieval fortress in Syria, and the Burundi drummers. But regrets? She had none.

She “led the complete life,” Amanpour said. “I don’t think Margaret could ever look back and say, ‘What if?’ She did it to the max, and she did it brilliantly. And she did it on her terms.”

the taming of the broad: women in art

Kat Laranger’s princess series works are unstoppably haunting. Check these out. Her quote on her work is wonderful:

“The idea that women should be clean and small and mutable really speaks to me of the power they must have. Women are fleshy, walking, talking, human-making machines, and all things fertile are also dirty, bloody, and open. There is no privacy in womanhood, and that idea is not always an easy thing to deal with.”

Women Targeted in Haiti

Taken from:

Haitian women become crime targets after quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Bernice Chamblain keeps a machete under her frayed mattress to ward off sexual predators and one leg wrapped around a bag of rice to stop nighttime thieves from stealing her daughters’ food.
She’s barely slept since Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake Jan. 12 forced her and other homeless women and children into tent camps, where they are easy targets for gangs of men.
Women have always had it bad in Haiti. Now things are worse.
“I try not to sleep,” says Chamblain, 22, who lost her father and now lives in a squalid camp with her mother and aunts near the Port-au-Prince airport. “Some of the men who escaped from prison are coming around to the camps and causing problems for the women. We’re all scared but what can we do? Many of our husbands, boyfriends and fathers are dead.”
Reports of attacks are increasing: Women are robbed of coupons needed to obtain food at distribution points. Others relay rumors of rape and sexual intimidation at the outdoor camps, now home to more than a half million earthquake victims.
A curtain of darkness drops on most of the encampments at night. Only flickering candles or the glow of cell phones provide light. Families huddle under plastic tarps because there aren’t enough tents. With no showers and scant sanitation, men often lurk around places where women or young girls bathe out of buckets. Clusters of teenage girls sleep in the open streets while others wander the camps alone.
The government’s communications minister, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, recently acknowledged the vulnerability of women and children but said the government was pressed to prioritize food, shelter and debris removal.
Aid groups offer special shelters for women and provide women-only food distribution points to deter men from bullying them. But challenges are rife more than three weeks after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left as many as 3 million in need of food, shelter and medicine.
Women who lined up for food before dawn Saturday said they were attacked by knife-wielding men who stole their coupons.
“At 4 a.m. we were coming and a group of men came out from an alley,” said Paquet Marly, 28, who was waiting for rice to feed her two daughters, mother and extended family. “They came out with knives and said, ‘Give me your coupons.’ We were obliged to give them. Now we have nothing — no coupons and no food.”
Aid organizations set up women-only distribution schemes because they trust the primary caregivers to get that food to extended family, not resell it.
“We’ve targeted the women because we think it’s the best way to get to families,” said Jacques Montouroy, a Catholic Relief Services worker helping out Saturday. “In other distributions when we’ve opened it up to men, we found that only half of the men would do what they were supposed to with the food.”
Soldiers from the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, guard many of the streets around the distribution points, but they can’t be everywhere all the time.
Aid workers say they’ve been staging elaborate decoy operations to draw men to one area while food coupons are given to women in another. Each of the 16 daily distributions throughout Port-au-Prince presents its own security challenges, Montouroy said.
“The coupon distribution has been hellish,” he said, explaining how crowds of men swarm around the women.
Even if the women successfully make it back to the camps with their 55-pound (25-kilogram) bags of rice, that doesn’t mean their worries are over. Some camps are even providing special protection for women, with tents where they can receive trauma counseling or be alone to breast-feed and care for young children.
“My sister died in the earthquake, so now I have to take care of my three daughters and my sister’s two,” said Magda Cayo, 42. “I try to keep them close but I see lots of hoodlums looking at them. We’re all nervous. It’s no good.”
Women have long been second-class citizens in Haiti.
According to the United Nations, the Haitian Constitution does not specifically prohibit sexual discrimination. Under Haitian law, the minimum legal age for marriage is 15 years for women and 18 years for men, and early marriage is common. A 2004 U.N. report estimated 19 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were married, divorced or widowed.
Rape was only made a criminal offense in Haiti in 2005.
In the months after a violent uprising ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, thousands of women were raped or sexually abused, the British medical journal Lancet reported. The coup set off a bloody wave of clashes among Haiti’s national police, pro- and anti-Aristide gangs, U.N. peacekeepers and rebels.
Because so many police stations and government offices were destroyed in the earthquake, some women may have no place to go to report assaults, according to Melanie Brooks of CARE, which is working to protect women while providing disaster relief.
She said women recovering from quake-related injuries are even more vulnerable because many are not mobile. An additional threat is HIV; Haiti has the highest infection rate in the Caribbean.
“The women whom we’ve talked to tell stories of rape, assaults or men following them around when they’re bathing,” Brooks said. “These stories are becoming the new bogeymen now. Everyone is looking over their shoulder.”
Before the earthquake, the government set up a panel to look at ways of empowering Haitian women. But the Women’s Ministry was among the government buildings destroyed.
Three Haitian women working on important judiciary reforms to protect women against sexual violence — Myriam Merlet, Anne Marie Coriolan and Magalie Marcelin — died in the earthquake. Many view their deaths as setbacks for all Haitian women.
As women lined up for food at the National Palace on Saturday, U.S. soldiers kept the men behind a cordon.
“It’s discrimination!” said Thomas Louis, 40. “We’ve all lost mothers, sisters, wives. Without women we can’t get coupons. They’re treating men like we are animals.”
(This version CORRECTS that several camps are providing shelter for women, rather than one.)

Incest and the Idea Behind the Word Consensual

I just came across an interesting article on CNN Health about Mackenzie Phillips’ incestuous relationship with her father. The article gives a bit more information on her autobiography in which she discusses what happened and also explained how she used the world “consensual” for lack of a better term. A large group of survivors and related networks came after her, in a way, for having used the word to describe the relationship. The article also gives some interesting numbers in terms of statistics, including that 25% of cases reported in 12 states in 2000 involved family members as perpetrators in a sexually abusive situation.

The article also does explain the “consensual” bit pretty well. All abusers have a tremendous amount of power over the child victim, but this power is even more pronounced when the perpetrator is a parent. When you’re a kid, your parents are where the world begins and ends in a way. They are law, completely. In knowing this, I think, parent perpetrators really flex this power in making the child do as they are told, and hence making the child feel as if they are “agreeing” to what is going on. This is something that becomes so deeply ingrained it takes a very long time to realize and accept, that this isn’t true at all.

Over the years during which I was being raped by my father, there was very little I could say or do in way of resistance. Everything started when I was very small. As I got older, I knew that what was going on was incredibly wrong, somehow, but it was something that had to be done. It didn’t seem “normal” as much as it did necessary. Commonplace in the house. Like the dishes or the laundry or the dusting.

I didn’t think everyone else did this with their parent. I was once in a support group where a woman said she grew up thinking everyone had sex with their fathers. It was an interesting take on how the child-mind can rationalize such brutal events, especially with such a sad and tormented undercurrent of love. “Daddy isn’t hurting me. This is just normal. Everyone does it. It’s alright.” Anything to believe that the parent — Daddy, the god-law — isn’t a bad person.

Of course, many of us grow to know that it’s wrong. Many, but not all, come to accept that these things were not agreed to, and that we were innocent, and that our perpetrators were sick people. Too many, however, never get to know these things. And become slaves, in a way, to the past via emotion. Mistreatment, unfairness, abuse, and a myriad of other things are sought after in adult life because this was the road that was paved as children. This, is what is normal. Some never even realize it. Others are too afraid to question another take on life, especially one of “freedom”. Freedom implies responsibility and reclaiming oneself. An uphill battle, when one has this anvil of a past attached to one’s foot. But it is so very well worth it.

There is so much to life, so much goodness to life, than one often imagines is possible. But it is there. And happily waiting to greet you with love and reuniting you with the fortune of accepting and loving yourself.

Should you need resources for yourself or someone you know on support for dealing with the effects of incest, visit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website and/or call their hotline: 800-656-HOPE.