Since founding SIFH in April this is one of the questions I repeatedly get asked. Because it is not one that I have a quick answer for I usually talk loosely about my passion for photography and for women’s rights. But the real reason I started SIFH stems from much more deep and personal experiences.
I see and feel the severe damage that is done by the under-representation, misrepresentation and sexualisation of women and girls in our society and by the intersectional discrimination that women and oppressed genders experience on a daily basis. From lack of self-esteem and anxiety through to experiencing sexual violence and rape, women experience severe harm because of the way our word treats us for being female.
I am a survivor of rape and of multiple sexual assaults. Almost all of my female friends have had similar experiences. I work supporting survivors of sexual violence and survivors of trafficking and I hear stories of pain, rape and sexual violence regularly. These experiences are not one off incidents but are the consequence of the way our world defines us. Collectively we have all been discriminated against and oppressed just because of our gender.
Our stories are too often being questioned, distorted, ignored or rewritten by the society we live in. Not only are others creating our identity, but our experiences our being pushed out of sight.
Our culture of victim blaming, undermining and silencing women and girls has become the norm and its impact is not only damaging but it has become a hidden crisis.
Nearly half the world are female but if we are unable to be recognised as being part of it, how can our world function? How can we begin to understand each other? This lack of understanding and misrepresentation is one of the reasons we have so many problems in our society with gender-based violence, domestic abuse, rape, sexual violence, street harassment, mental health problems, hate crimes, racism and sexism.
The absence of women recorded in history, lack of women in positions of power and control of over female identity all has huge impact on how we experience the world.
See It From Her was not only started to challenge these norms and say no sexism but to say yes to women’s experiences; to say we believe you, we hear you and we see you.
I wanted to create a space where women feel able to speak out and share their stories without fear of reprisal and speak openly about their experiences. I want women to feel as powerful as they really are, to know their rights and to have choice over what it means to be female.
I chose photography as the tool for this project as for centuries imagery has been one of the key aspects the media uses to define women. I wanted to to challenge the pre-existing imagery in our society through using the same media. I also felt that Photography is a powerful tool that is very expressive and accessible and wanted to explore more creative ways for women to be able to share their voices within the un-creative structures of our society.
I want people to be able to really see what half the world experience and for the media to not only accept we exist but acknowledge that women are imperfect, extraordinary and exceptional people.