Who says the Republican party doesn’t attract women? This past Sunday in Cleveland, 100 nude women showed up to protest the Republican party’s anti-woman (and anti-folks-with-uteruses) policies at the Republican National Convention. In a project titled “Everything She Says Means Everything,” women were invited to stand nude and hold mirrors to “the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women and the concept of Mother Nature.”
The project was put together by a man named Spencer Tunick, who vetted some 1,800 volunteers to find 100 women participants. Tunick says of the project:
“The philosophy of the artwork relates to the idea of the sacred feminine. By holding mirrors, we hope to suggest that women are a reflection and embodiment of nature, the sun, the sky and the land. We want to express the belief that we will rely upon the strength, intuition and wisdom of progressive and enlightened women to find our place in nature and to regain the balance within it. The mirrors communicate that we are a reflection of ourselves, each other, and of, the world that surrounds us. The woman becomes the future and the future becomes the woman.”
#EverythingSheSaysMeansEverything: Participant Stories
Each participant wrote a statement as to why they were drawn to the #EverythingSheSaysMeansEverything project. Here are several that really stood out:
“I was recently sexually assaulted (for the third) time in my life .. It’s really been affecting me … The fact that this happens again … I’m dealing with a lot of shame and I don’t want to feel ashamed anymore – I want to set boundaries and not let others cross them but I also want to stand up and not be afraid to own my own body .. I think participating in this will be a freeing experience for me.”
“I would like to participate in this amazing photo event because even more than I love art, I love the empowerment of women. I work in construction and have to dull down my femininity heavily because it’s a “man’s profession”. I am a mother of two boys and I try my best to teach them overall equality, and especially when it comes to all aspects of gender.”
“As an OB/GYN, I have devoted my life to women’s lives from birth to death. This is an awesome way to further support them.”
“My daughter and her friends deserve to grow up in a world where they will have access to healthcare and strong support for their life choices. I also want to show her that she can love her body with a fierce passion no matter what the media imposes on her.”
“I would be honored to take part in your project on a personal level because I am a survivor of sexual abuse, rape and physical violence during childhood. I grew up living under the dominance and controlling nature of the men in my family system. I was suffocated, strangled and had knives thrown at me. I attended 16 schools by the time I left in 10th grade. My first abuse began when i was 4 and ended when at 15 I was forced to give a child up for adoption who was a result of the sexual abuse.. After returning from the hospital he started up once more and something snapped in me and I never returned to live at home again.”
While created by a cis man, this space allowed these women to be part of the project and tell their stories. Much of it’s wonderful, but some aspects are also problematic; there is a double-edged sword for allyship.
We call upon cis-het men to support us without stifling us. We ask that they leverage their position of privilege to boost others’ voices without muffling them. It is a difficult line to toe for those with even the best intentions. When men create projects like this to boost the voices of women, they are an act of allyship at best and an act of exploitation at worst. Can you imagine what they could create with more initiatives for public art created by women and queers alike?