On photos and feminism

I’m too exhausted to write a TPD tonight. Long weekend. Don’t feel like going into it. Instead…

I took a photo for my stepmother’s Christmas Card tonight. I don’t live with her; I haven’t for years. In fact, I send out my own Christmas Card now. But she’s the kind of woman who, while disliking me greatly, dislikes the idea of presenting to the world anything but a perfectly unified, loving family even more. Therefore, she either tries to get me to visit for a photo session or asks for a photo every year. To avoid fighting with my father, I comply.

Looking at the photos, I can’t help but analyse them through the eyes of those so-called body language experts who are always commenting on celebrity pictures. In most of the photos, I have an arm around my fiancee, my head tilted towards him with a pleasant smile on my face; he stands tall, with a more laid-back closed-mouth smile. I posed the photos; he didn’t want to do it at all, but I made him put on a sweater and the matching santa hat to mine while coaxing our friend into taking the damn thing and teaching him how to operate my camera. Yet if you look at the body  language, he looks like he’d be fine alone, while I’m  making an effort to conform to the shape of his body. He’s taller, more imposing – the man of the house, while I defer to him by posing in a way that redirects attention to his face.

Why would I pose that way? I make the money, organize our lives, ensure the bills are paid on time… in essence, I wear the pants in the relationship. Yet I was taught from an early age of school photos to tilt my head and look endearing rather than strong.

I’m not confident enough to follow in the footsteps of some of my favorite bloggers and openly denounce the type of religiosity that’s become a cancer in our society, but I will say this: in even the tamer fundamentalist/born-again circles, the ones where you can have your gay children over for thanksgiving as long as you pray really hard that they’ll see the light and return to the fold, they emphasize the importance of male dominance and female submission. The man is to lead; the woman is to… I almost want to say “guide”, but even that infers superior knowledge. The woman is to support, coax, and manipulate, but never lead, teach, or guide her husband. She may arrange the picture, establish the mailing list, and hand-address every envelope, but she must appear to be merely supporting her husband once the envelope is opened.

In the picture that I chose to send, my exasperated fiancee, tired of taking pictures, has inclined his head towards mine. My smile is entirely fake – a moment prior I’d been scolding my best friend for not being able to work a goddamn camera and take one lousy picture. It gives my eyes a hint of a dangerous edge to them. I’ll take a fresh one for my own Christmas card — if I took one more picture tonight, someone’d be limping home. But at least I’m not simpering and meek.

I’m going to go sleep now. Maybe tomorrow will be better. 500-odd words on my nano today and none yesterday. So much for my lead.

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2 Responses to On photos and feminism

  1. Jarred H says:

    But she’s the kind of woman who, while disliking me greatly, dislikes the idea of presenting to the world anything but a perfectly unified, loving family even more.

    “What would the neighbors think,” eh? My sympathies.

    500-odd words on my nano today and none yesterday. So much for my lead.

    I’ve tried Nano twice. I just don’t have the self-disicpline to keep it going for a full month. Good luck to you.

    • yamikuronue says:

      My nano is going surprisingly well this year after failing three other times; I suspect my job, which has a lot of downtime in front of a computer, has to do with it 😀

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