Wasma Manour: Single Saudi Women
Since 2008, my photography explored the spatial and material constructions of Saudi women who do not fit the stereotype: women who have chosen to live alone despite their belonging to a culture where male presence, shaping lives and spaces, is the norm. Pictorial conventions in mass media exhibited recurring visual tropes that stereotype and limit Saudi women to being placed under two categories: she is either passive, docile and therefore in crisis, or defiant, rebellious and consequently liberated. The women I’ve met and photographed revealed a complex set of negotiations made to reconcile with their identities and assert their sense of individualism. My work interrogates these two polar existences by showing that the participants exist and function in a wide area between them.
It could be argued by some that my choice of apparatus is politically motivated. Especially since issues concerning Saudi women’s visibility have been a subject of heated debates of two opposing and equally hegemonic headings: ‘liberation’ and ‘domination’. I should clarify that the position I hold both as photographer and citizen belongs to neither camps. The hope and aim of my project from the outset is to bring forth an alternative, and more encompassing, view of what it means to be a single Saudi woman.
This group is of particular interest for visual enquiry, and unlike previous attempts utilized to ‘interrogate’ Saudi women, I considered the potential a multi faceted approach, by giving the women I’ve met and worked the opportunity to discuss (c-type prints, 8” x 10”) and reveal their identities through their narratives, their spaces and their things. My personal investment in this endeavor was encouraged by the diversity of experiences I have encountered. And to illustrate that even through photography, I was able to capture the many realities and the plentiful negotiations that are worked out on a daily basis. The challenge was to aesthetically narrate the multifarious ways in which Saudi women assert their subjectivity. And to create images from interacting with their worlds. The objective, therefore, has been (and still remains) to represent that rich world in a plethora of settings and spaces, and hope to transmit some of its texture and flavor.
– Wasma Mansour, 2012
Not mentioned in this list is the 6 foot tall woman from Shahr-e Sukhteh with the golden prosthetic eye (first one known in history).
The Nu Project’s Nude Photos Tell The Truth About Women’s Bodies
The Nu Project is a no-glamor honest look at beauty and image in our world.
Female nudity isn’t hard to come by in the media, but the bodies we see usually represent a fairly limited scope of sizes and shapes. The Nu Project, a collection of nude photographs shot by Minneapolis photographer Matt Blum, seeks to add some variety to the mix. Blum started The Nu Project in 2005 but said it really took off when his wife, Katy Kessler, became the project’s editor. Blum sees the photos as filling a void. “When I started shooting nudes there was no project like it,” he told The Huffington Post in an email. The things that I had seen either used models with typical model bodies or average people who were made to look extremely unimpressive. I figured there was a way to treat women (of any size/shape) like models and photograph them beautifully, respectfully without a lot of sexual under or overtones. The women photographed are all volunteers, and most of the pictures are taken in the subjects’ homes — where they feel most comfortable. The Nu Project’s website showcases six galleries of nudes, three shot in North America, three in South America. Although Blum told HuffPost that he feels that they have a “good variety of people involved,” he and Kessler acknowledge on The Nu Project website that they’d love for the subjects to be more diverse. “The hardest part for us is that the project is 100 percent volunteer, so I do not see the women until I show up at their door,” Blum writes on the website. “We’re doing our best to encourage all types of women, but we need volunteers of all backgrounds and walks of life to make the project more complete.” Blum said he ultimately hopes that these images inspire the women who see them to feel better about their own bodies. “It’s been really exciting to hear people react to the images,” he told HuffPost. “We get a lot of feedback from women (especially) who have struggled to see themselves as beautiful, and this project has helped them on that path.”
“So my amazing daughter, Emma, turned 5 last month, and I had been searching everywhere for new-creative inspiration for her 5yr pictures. I noticed quite a pattern of so many young girls dressing up as beautiful Disney Princesses, no matter where I looked 95% of the “ideas” were the “How to’s” of how to dress your little girl like a Disney Princess…We chose 5 women (five amazing and strong women), as it was her 5th birthday but there are thousands of unbelievable women (and girls) who have beat the odds and fought (and still fight) for their equal rights all over the world”
- Jaime Moore, Not Just a Girl
Cecilia Payne was born in Wendover, England in 1900. In 1919 while at Newham college at Cambridge, she became interested in astronomy after hearing a lecture by Professor Eddington about his eclipse expedition to Brazil.
Because astronomy continued to be seen as a branch of mathematics she was unable to change her major field of study to astronomy from physics. She continued however to attend Eddington’s lectures. When she finally confessed her wish to become an astronomer to Eddington his response was, “I can see no insuperable objections.” After graduating from Cambridge she became concerned about the future for women in astonomy careers in England. She chose to head toward the United States where she thought a woman might be more accepted. She received a fellowship to study at Harvard Observatory and so she headed across the seas to continue her career.
Payne quickly settled in among the women at the Harvard Observatory, working there under the director Harlow Shapley. She quickly began an investigation of the stellar spectra being compiled for the Henry Draper catalog. In 1925 Cecilia Payne became the first person, woman or man, to receive an Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard. Shapley had attempted to get her a Ph.D. in the already existing physics department, but the chair refused. To get around this roadblock she received her Ph.D. in astronomy instead.
Her thesis, later published as the observatory’s first monograph, Stellar Atmospheres, A contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layer of Stars was labeled at the time and for many years afterwards as “the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy.” In this thesis Payne calculated a temperature scale to match the classification system which Annie Cannon had developed.
She also theorized about the composition of the stars. She suggested that the stars were mostly hydrogen. However, when Eddington heard this theory he told her that she was wrong because astronomers at the time felt that all celestial bodies had very similar compostions. As a result, Payne wrote in her thesis that her results were improbable and probably wrong. Today, of course, we know her results were actually fairly accurate.
After her fellowship was finished, Payne was hired by Harvard and worked with the various other women then employed at the Harvard Observatory. In 1932 Payne began a tour of Europe visiting various observatories around the continent. Her final destination was Berlin for the meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft. She documents in her autobiography the conditions both in Russia and in Nazi Germany at the time. While in Berlin she met a young Russian Astronomer Sergei Gaposchkin and heard his plight as a Russian Astronomer in Nazi Germany. She resolved to help him get out of Europe. She found him a position at Harvard and he arrived in November 1932. Less than two years later in March 1934 Sergei and Cecilia were married.
Cecilia continued to publish and wrote several other books, some of them coauthored by her husband. Payne, with Annie Cannon, eventually received the title of Astronomer from Harvard . Despite the fact that she lectured at the University, it was not until the 1950s that Payne received the title of Professor and eventually Chair of the Astronomy Department at Harvard. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin is one of the great women astronomers of this century.
The 3D ultrasound was invented in 1984. Viagra, which works by inhibiting a single enzyme, was introduced in 1998. The first MRI of sexual intercourse was in 1999. The Human Genome Project, the mapping of 20,000-25,000 genes and providing a full map of human DNA reached completion in 2003. Surely we have a fairly good handle on something as basic as human anatomy, right? So, when do you think the first full 3-D scan of the clitoris happened?
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