When I heard about the Fem 2.0 conference, my first thought was, "Awesome!" Then I wondered who would be there… specifically where I’d find community. I am excited about uniting with my sharp, political, grassroots, grasstops, creative, tech-savvy, bold feminist sisters, but where would the self-proclaimed artists fit in?
As the founder of The Saartjie Project – a collective of women artists and activists using the stage and technology to explore body politics – I believe that creative energy and expression unlocks solutions.
Our namesake, Saartjie (Sara) Baartman, is the catalyst for our work as we shine humanity in the face of dehumanizing forces.
Most notably Saartjie was a young 19th-century South African woman who was promised freedom and fame but instead was lured into a life of exploitation and infamy. Under her given show name, "Hottentot Venus," she was exhibited throughout Europe for the last five years of her life like a side-show animal showing her body to paying audiences. She was trapped in the hyper-sexualization and exoticism of African women and robbed of her dignity and humanity.
We use song, dance, visual art, spoken word and drama to reclaim her humanity through our personal stories and testimonies. Our website <http://www.thesaartjieproject.org/> is a comprehensive resource for people interested in learning more about her and tangential issues connected to our work.
But, back to the question at hand, "Where would the self proclaimed artists fit in?" It hit me like a ton of bricks – Who needs to "fit"?! Outside of the Fem 2.0 conference I am sure that one of the common denominators among many of the attendees is that we are misfits within a larger "power" structure.
Fitting in is irrelevant and counterintuitive to what I believe in. Fitting in won’t automatically create solutions. Fitting in won’t provide opportunities for unique partnerships with women’s advocacy organizations, which is my hope.
After this revelation I am even more excited about uniting with my sharp, political, grassroots, grasstops, creative, tech savvy, bold feminist sisters! Can’t wait to meet fellow travelers in the creative community too!
As I look forward to the possibilities this February, I petition everyone to continue to flex your creative muscle in the boardroom, in the classroom, in the courtroom, at the negotiation table, on the canvas, on stage, on the picket line and behind the computer – the misfits need you.