sábado, 30 de diciembre de 2017

Interviewing Resistance: Ambivalently Yours

As some of you already know, I'm currently interviewing artists, activists and mostly, both. This week I'm posting an interview with the feminist artist Ambivalently Yours (Tumblr: ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com / Instagram: instagram.com/ambivalentlyyours). She defines her project as "feminist rants / questionable advice / too much pink".

I've also posted the interview in Spanish so you can all read it in both languages. I'm not a professional translator, but I tried my best!

1. You draw and write a lot about feelings, ambivalence, vulnerability. Through a feminist lens, i often get the feeling that it's men who should become more emotional, while women should toughen up like them. I, however, believe that all of us should allow ourselves to show our true emotions and become the vulnerable human beings that we truly are. What are your thoughts on this? How do you think vulnerability and emotionality can empower women?

For me, Feminism is not trying to tell men to be sensitive and women to be tough, what feminism and gender studies are trying to do is break down the binaries of gender identity. Looking at gender as men vs. women, ignores all the complex genders in-between and thinking of emotions in terms of male/female binaries ignores human complexities by telling half the population to be one way and the other half to be another. Patriarchal society has trained us to think that men should be stoic and women are emotional (or in other words fragile). These ideas were built to give more power to men, but in practice they are harmful to everyone. Since these rules are so present, many people believe them as truths and try to embody them at any cost. This results in men who are unable to express their emotions without feeling emasculated and women who apologise every time they feel something because they think it makes them appear too weak. In truth, humans feel emotions, whether we want to or not, and it takes a lot of strength and emotional maturity to be able to express ourselves openly. I believe that learning to understand and embrace our vulnerability and emotionality empowers all people because it helps us communicate and connect with one another more clearly and honestly.

2. You're not a professional, but you certainly are someone people come to in search of advice and understanding. You've helped and supported (and continue to help and support) so many people all around the world, many of them women. What've you learnt from them? How does this help you grow as a person and empowers you as a feminist the same way you help them grow and empower themselves?

I’m not a professional therapist, nor do I try to be, I’m an artist, and I communicate with people best through creative means. I always see the work I do as a form of collaboration. The interactions I have with people online help me as much (if not more) than they help those I respond to. The process encourages me to think about issues that I have faced and try to translate them into words and drawings that others will be able to relate to. It is a process of learning to expand my ability to feel empathy for others while also learning to understand the limits of empathy. There are some life experiences and emotions that I will never be able to relate to because of my life experience and all of the privileges I have or don’t have. This process has helped me approach my feminist convictions and life choices with a more critical eye.

3. You're an unapologetic feminist. Which should be, in your opinion, the goals and praxis of the feminist movements at the current time in order to stay radical and intersectional?

Intersectional Feminism is a very tricky concept, that often gets oversimplified in the media because feminism is “on trend” right now. While I think that it’s wonderful that more and more people are identifying as feminists, we have to be careful not to allow our ideas to get diluted and homogenised by the mainstream. Capitalist culture benefits from marketing Feminism as this one thing (often a traditionally pretty girl with her hands on her hips looking tough and wearing a quirky slogan tee), but for Feminism to be intersectional, we have to allow multiple versions of feminism to coexist. We have to listen to more narratives than just our own, and resist the impulse to only support those whose ideas are exactly the same as ours. Building feminist communities can be fun and fulfilling but it is never going to be easy. The movement always has to keep growing, evolving and redefining itself in order to avoid becoming exclusionary or meaningless.

4. You're also an artist, undoubtfully. Many people already know your art thanks to the Internet. But, in your artist statement, I got to read about anonymous notes left in public spaces. Can you tell us more about this project?

My work as Ambivalently Yours started out as a project where I left notes in public places to the things and/or places that made me feel ambivalent, then I wrote a blog post about it. It was my way to start thinking about ambivalence and how it affects my everyday life. I also invited other people to do the same and share their experience with me. (You can read it here: http://ambivalently-yours.blogspot.ca/)

5. Finally, I'm sure we'd all love to get to know you a little bit more. Which are the things that shine a light on your life, that give you hope, that make you happy and help you keep going in your hardest days in such a harsh world? Sport, spirituality, art in all its forms (both as a creator and as a consumer), activism, bonding with other people, similar or different to you... Tell us about it all!

I’ve been communicating with a lot of young people online for the last 6 years or so and it gives me hope to see them grow into complex feminist individuals with the ability to think critically while also understanding that there are something that we will always have mixed feelings about. On a more personal level, since last summer I have been trying to be kinder to myself and to care for myself more by exercising more, weeding out negative people from my life, and going to therapy on a regular basis. I’ve started to learn that you can’t do it all on your own, and that there is so much value in finding your people.

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