Recently, I decided to create a local photography group for female models, MUAHs, photographers, and designers. This decision came after seeing, as a former model and current photographer, numerous incidents of sexual harassment in local photography communities. While I know there are reputable, professional male photographers, what I've often observed is a lack of standing up for female models when they are harassed, as the "boys club" doesn't want to make waves. (As I can already hear the critics, I'm referencing incidents with screenshots/video, where there is irrefutable evidence of sexual harassment and well documented online conversations within these communities about these abusive creeps behaving unprofessionally.)
In a former life, I was a tsunami when I saw someone being harassed or bullied (regardless of their sex or gender). However, after being in a relationship with an abusive narcissist, that part of me was slowly chipped away. I excused inexcusable behavior and walked on eggshells for years. The worst of it, was the person I became from his abuse, as it brought out an ugliness in me. Now that I'm free from his hurt, and myself again, I cannot go back to being silent.
Unfortunately, there will always be that "guy with a camera" (gwac), as well as folks who rather stand with the bully than with the bullied (enablers). For many, it's not in their character to break from the herd and stand defiantly against the predator. But it's in mine. Prior to meeting my narcissist, all 5'4" of my tiny being fought back, mentally, physically, emotionally--whatever it took. Well, that girl never left, and I'm happy to embrace her spirit again.
These images are from the first Camera Goddesses Meetup that we held in Raleigh, North Carolina. As I organize these, I hope that it becomes an empowering movement for women to not only learn more as photographers and artists, but also build each other up. In a field that is historically male-dominated, women have had to consistently prove they can "hang with the boys". It's frustrating that by simply having different chromosomes, we have to constantly fight for respect. It's especially irritating when the gwac's are given more respect than amazing female photographers. In spite of this, these women refuse to stop doing what they love.
“I have always sensed that women artists have to prove themselves exceptional in order to get their foot in the door...whereas many, many mediocre men artists easily get by.” – Cindy Sherman
I refuse to stop too.
In 8th grade, I was sexually harassed and horribly bullied by a male classmate. Once, before my art class, as I placed the finishing touches on my homework he slammed into me, causing my pen to fly across the paper, ruining my drawing. Cackling wildly at me, he revealed in how I "wasn't a good artist" and "everyone would see it now". Without even flinching, I picked my pen back up and continued drawing off the stray lines, creating a new sketch. He stood there speechless.
I want them speechless. Not because I tell them off, they don't listen as it isn't a skill of theirs. No, I want them dumbstruck because of what I make, even when they think they've drug me down. This is the challenge--rising up (ok, maybe you need to tell them where to go too, sometimes it's just good to let it out!).
If you're not producing your art, the abusers, the bullies, the gwacs, and the enablers are winning.
So we create... It's therapeutic too!
The story of Psykhe is complex, hence the borrowing of the name for our scientific words which describe the perplexities of the human mind. Her tale is one of jealousy, mystery, deceit, shame, humility, kindness, justice, love—a long adventure which mirrors the woes and trials that women have faced over history.
Summarizing a lengthy story, Psykhe is hidden away, and entered into a fake marriage with a man whose body she cannot look upon (the god Eros, aka Cupid) due to her beauty stirring ire in the goddess Venus. From here she is further mistreated by others, as her sisters conspire against her, which ultimately leads to her being made a servant to Venus, who abuses the poor girl.
What appeals to me most in Psykhe’s tale, are the tasks that Venus sets upon her, and how Psykhe prevails each time. This tenaciousness, however, is not always through Psykhe’s resolve to prove herself, as she often is depressed and suicidal. Her survival is due to the kindness of strangers, who continually encourage and aid her despite Venus’s daunting challenges. As time goes on, through loss and gain, Psykhe grows.
In many ways, I see myself in the stories of Psykhe—struggling with depression, brought on from abuse by others, but pulling through suicidal thoughts because of the genuine goodness of acquaintances, friends, and many times, complete strangers. Her evolving storyline as a human (adolescent to adult, wife to mother) is probably the most real of the myth.
While, the end, is a classic “happily ever after”, with Psykhe being made a goddess so that she may officially wed her lover, Eros, it is everything in between her encounters with Eros that is most inspiring. Before Psykhe can have true happiness and love, essentially, she must learn to be herself.
Images published in Gilded Magazine's 21.2 Issue. Copies available at: