Thursday, April 2, 2009

Throw Like a Girl

I intend to produce a series of images that will explore evolving constructs of femininity and masculinity. I will use codes of colour, shape and content to communicate an aesthetic of simplicity, that in turn address’s the multifarious complexities of gender, sexual identity and related codes of conduct.

Part I: Tomboys
At this stage in my project, I have chosen to look at early indicators and derivatives of the roles we play out within binary structures of masculinity or/and femininity. And for this, I am looking at the tomboy.
Tomboyism generally describes an extended childhood period of masculinity in girls and tends to drop of in adolescence when the construct of femininity, can become more desirable. Fluidity of sexual/gender identity can begin to emerge during adolescence when certainly a heighten sense of self; can escalate to an intense need to ‘fit in’. Thus different identities can be tried on for size.
The tomboy could be viewed as emblematic of innocence, because at this stage in a girl’s life she does not conform to any preconceived ideals of sexual/gender/identity.
Or does she?

Throw Like A Girl
As a girl, whilst walking around Woolies with my Mum, bored and trailing behind her, I used to practice my bow-legged swagger I had mastered by watching Starsky on the telly. My Mum, fully aware of my shenanigans, left me alone to explore and grapple with these notions of gender-bendering. And so, I wore Starsky, if you like, as a loose garment, for some years to come!

Social organisation of gender relations, rest partly on the continued naturalisation of the constructed differences between the sexes. When women enact and own qualities and practices that have been constructed historically for men, they subvert and transgress these socially designated roles and sexed categories. Not only do they separate masculinity from the male viewpoint, but in doing so, indicate that gender is/can be essentially fluid and equal.

Neither gender predominates over the other.

Photographing children has meant having to trudge through the area of bureaucracy. Consensual issues and legal ramifications, if lack there-of, have meant drawing up a simple consent form stating that the images may be reproduced. The parents sign this.

Issues in working with young people also brought about a decision to approach the project as a type of collaboration between the subject, parent/s and myself. I have also found that developing a relationship with the subject (young person) by including them in the process and arrangement of the shoot, to be beneficial. I do this by asking them to help me scout for locations. This is a great help in gaining some insight to their character. Ideally I would like to spend more time doing this since it is a significant part of the process that will help me to achieve that sense of ease I am looking for.

Visual artist:
Carolle Scheeman
Cathrine Opie
Hellen Van Meene
Lise Safanti
Diane Arbus


  1. You might to also check out Marion Moore's photo project from the mid-90s, Butch Baby Butch, and Tina Fiveash's work in Judith Cobb's film Tomboy, Sydney, 2004. Oh, here's one:

    and I look forward to seeing what you make with your project- good luck!

  2. this is realy interesting Lesley. Look forward to seeing you resolve this project.