One crucial point that has to be clarified in order to fully appreciate Foto Femme United’s work is the idea of woman as perceived by this community. A woman is an intersectional identity, that is to say an identity not determined only by gender in its traditional view, but by the summing up of a number of other biological, cultural and socials elements, including age, language, class, ability, culture, ethnicity, education and sexuality.
The recent definition of ‘intersectionality’ given by the Merriam-Webster dictionary may make this critical and seemingly confusing concept easier to understand. Indeed, it explains the term as being “the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect”, emphasizing in this way the difference of experiences women may have in their lifetime according to the abovementioned combination of characteristics, as opposed to a common fate dictated exclusively by biological gender. For example, a black woman could be facing racism alongside sexism.
The acknowledgment of such stratified, varied and complex nature of women is at the basis of intersectional feminism and it seems to have made its way into mainstream debate only recently, defying the anachronistic idea of feminism as overly white, middle-classed, cis-gendered and able-bodied. It is a belief that embraces then all sort of women, no matter their origin, culture, body, class, sexuality and no matter their biological and constraining definition at birth: cis, trans, intersex, non-binary are all welcome.
Now, as the central aim of this community is to encourage women in photography, we could not miss out on the possibility to include some images taken by feminist photographers to enforce the theme. The two artists featured are two completely different women who well embody and show through their work the fascination of heterogeneity.
Moonastra (@nuits_profondes._) spoke to us at Foto Femme United about herself and her work:
I grew up seeing my hair as a burden. While the television ran this ad several times a day ‘Make your hair soft and shiny’, I looked at these white women and their hair and hated mine. Theirs could be styled very easily while mine was just indomitable. I tried several chemical treatments, but they were harmful and expensive. My approach to my own hair (and therefore to my identity) finally started to change thanks to photography portraying black women wearing majestically their natural hair. Since then, and after a long journey towards self-approval, I have learned to love mine too. I often ask myself why I denied my identity, why I listened to such absurd social imperatives and why I was not stopped by my family from doing so. As a result of my own experience, in my photography I work largely on encouraging women’s self-acceptance and self-confidence. I also defy socially standardized negations by showing body hair and menstruations, and intimacy and sexuality in all its beauty. I love nudes and my new project involves immortalizing couples who make love and people who masturbate, with the aim to erase such taboos against censorship.
The second photographer documenting the beauty of diversity is Poppy (@poppymarriott__), who introduced us to her exceptionally colourful project:
My name is Poppy Marriott and I’m a non-binary photographer from London, UK. My work focuses on documenting artists and creative folk who live their lives outside of the gender binary. My personal project ‘Tilted’ (which the following photographs come from!) was born out of frustration of not seeing people like myself represented in the media, especially not by fellow gender-non-conforming (GNC) people. So, I decided to make my own representation, and create a series of images that show us GNC people for the powerful, amazing folk we are. The images focus heavily on the individual personality of the subject, using colour and bold imagery to bring the photographs to life. When put together in their entirety, the series makes a rainbow to show the part we play in the LGBTQIA community.
So, here’s to all women out there changing the world one photo at a time.