Tittymama Army.

As I work my way through my MA research, I have encountered uncomfortable questions on my own childhood, my feelings, and my experience. I do struggle to find the correct words to communicate my findings at times and took to researching other women’s experiences of rejecting femininity whilst growing up. I hoped to be able to express myself more successfully after encountering similar experiences. Rather than finding what I hoped for, I came across a blog post addressing the so-called Death of Femininity brought on by feminism. The lengthy post attacks feminism and accuses feminism of interfering with the natural biological structure of power and the family unit. Women who are wanting to compete with men and unattractive to men and will live and die alone and are labelled masculine women. Their fertility is questioned. Women are talked about as if they are not individuals and only in relation to men.  The post had 19,188 followers at the time and the comments were as disturbing as the post itself.

In my opinion, as someone who was looking for help to word how and why I was rejecting femininity as a child, feminism is not the problem. As a child I did not feel overly feminine. Old photographs show I had a healthy balance of toys, interests, and clothes. I believe the rejection of my femininity was when I became aware that I did not feel and look like I felt I should to be a ‘proper girl’, and, that there was a hierarchy. Why did my dad always have the last say when my mum done more and knew more? Why, if I acted the same as my dad and liked some of the same things, could I not be like him? I didn’t look like my mum and the boys didn’t like me the way they liked my mum, so I must be more like my dad. Why did my dad tell me I would never be as tall as him? I’m only 2″ shorter. When my body began to change, I struggled. I struggled even more when I found that other people were aware of it. I became my body at a young age. I think this is why the breasts keep reoccurring in my images. My secondary school years were a battle between me wanting to embrace my gender but never feeling like I matched up to the expectations. I wasn’t as slim or attractive as my mum. I had a curvier body than a lot of the girls at school who still looked like girls in their uniform. I am the same body size now as I was when I was around 13. I felt fat. I began to turn to food for comfort and make myself sick repeatedly. I wanted to be attractive to boys, I wore short skirts like the others. On the flip side, I would wear tracksuits, trainers and football shirts. I accentuated my accent like the boys and deepened my voice. I remember I quit GCSE PE as I was trying to run the bleep test with my tracksuit top on. I was so hot that I was bright red in the face and felt sick but I would not remove my jacket in case the others would look at my chest. This struggle with my gender and the expectation with it continued up to my late 20s. I dealt with my eating disorder at about 26, embraced the fact that I didn’t want to look as feminine as my friends with my tattoos and unconventional hair, and brushed off my mum’s concerns about my sexuality and y lack of interest in children. I was OK with who I was. This all happened before my awareness of feminism. I have come to the conclusion it is internalised misogyny.

After rummaging through memories, stumbling across the blog post, hearing people’s comments regarding gender and stereotypes, the man in the pub declaring anyone who hired a woman of childbearing age insane, the friend on social media saying the pay gap doesn’t exist and women don’t want equal opportunities with their partner when it comes to parental leave and job roles, has all added to my belief that women are reduced down to a body. They are judged on what that body looks like, what they do with it, what they don’t do with it. They are sexualised as soon as they grow breasts, later the attention moves to their reproductive organs; if they are using them too much, if they are not using them but having sex for fun, and if they have chosen never to reproduce. Boobs and wombs.

I have began to create a Tittymama Army. I want to represent the women who are not conventionally feminine but still are women. Their femininity is not for people to pass judgement on. Reflecting on the blog post and it’s followers, I would be interested to know how they measure femininity. Is it attractiveness? Is it passiveness? Does a woman being disabled affect the measuring? Or what about women of colour? What is a women can’t bear children, does this affect their femininity? I would like to create enough of these women to fill a room. I am using the colour pallet that is assigned to young girls as an acknowledgement of the early expectation of femininity put on girls which may not represent them as an individual personality. The intention is to draw attention to how women are determined by their body. The finish is crude and intentionally not pretty. They do not have to please the eye. Some are faceless as they are twice removed from society’s expectations. I want the viewer to question whether the bodies are monstrous or is it their viewing of the bodies that is.

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She Drew The Gun- Poem

SDTG-1T

Can’t believe what I’m reading when I open up these sheets
they’ve got police getting busier, cleaning up the streets
‘Cos that’s what we need now to make the place neat
take the homeless mans rags,no sleeping bags no place to sleep
Because we’re far too civilised around here to see
an unkempt human being, a broken human being
open up your eyes are you seeing what I’m seeing, yeah
a misplaced made to feel disgraced human being
what it’s not enough to just pretend that you don’t see him
you can’t stand the sight so you’ve got to disappear him
well I hope you feel more comfortable doing your sight seeing
taking pictures, buying fucking Union Jack magnets and keyrings

Life give me something to believe in
No lies, just something to believe in
Am I the only one that’s grieving
these things that belong to you and you and me that they are thieving
It’s time for something to believe in
I’m tired, need something to believe in
Am I the only one that’s grieving
these things that belong to me that they are thieving

And how long until they build a wall and call it a private city
they got walls made out of laws to exclude you and me
Now they take away our right, to fight those laws for free
no legal aid, no more justice, only for the wealthy
Oh but they’re trying to build a more healthy society
So that everybody knows you don’t get nothin’ for free
No scroungers, no living room loungers, living off me
Can I suggest you’re seeing exactly what they want you to see
a monster, cancer, threat to your liberty
How ’bout a scapegoat for their crimes, a victim of the times
everything that your not meant to be
How ’bout a badly prepared, scared human being
how about a necessary cog in their economic machines

If their was no unemployment tell me how would things be
would you still feel lucky to be working 40 hours a week
Well like a caged bird and they got us by the beak
give us enough to eat, enough to sleep, enough to tweet
but there’s not enough space between the ground and our feet
we’re singing songs of freedom but we’re not flying free

Life give me something to believe in
No lies, just something to believe in
Am I the only one that’s grieving
these things that belong to you and me that they are thieving
It’s time for something to believe in
I’m tired, need something to believe in
Am I the only one that’s grieving
these things that belong to me that they are thieving

And this whole world’s got me hurting
got me feeling undeserving
got me questioning my worth in this sad system that we’re serving
found no place in this twisted race for property
is making profit the sole aim of humanity
Protect the banks, bring out the tanks if they disagree
while we’re at it let’s invest some more in military
All our friends have shares so why shouldn’t we

And now the markets are demanding that we give away for free
everything that our grandparents fought for to some company
It’s called wealth creation, yeah, it’s more efficient you see
Well sorry I forgot the free market would set us free
I forgot to only think about I am and me
while brothers and sisters have nothing to eat
brothers and sisters, at home and over seas
So I can’t lie down and I wont let it be
While we are working for a market that doesn’t work for we

These things that they’re thieving, yours and mine
I know that they’re still stealing, but there’s still time
if you feel this way too


Lyrics: She Drew The Gun – Poem