See Me, Hear Me

Women, society, ageing and visibility

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Sweet 16 book cover

Turning the lens on women over the age of sixty brought new insights on aging, and visibility.

I’ve wanted to change the world for as far back as I can remember. In fact, many of the people I talk with want to do that as well. How many times have you heard someone say, “I want to make a difference”? But in that, we fail to see we do make a difference. Every little thing we do (and don’t do) has an impact. Everything.

Every little thing we do (and don’t do) has an impact. Everything.

I’ve spent a lot of time behind a camera. What I love about taking people’s photos is the insights I gain. You need to get to know someone to create a meaningful portrait but of course, it’s filtered. Filtered by my assumptions, beliefs, and ideas. I have to question these assumptions and let them fade away.

It’s a strange thing that I can’t really explain, but what I know is that it is our relationship with ourselves that’s the key to the way we turn up. And how we turn up is key to how we behave toward others. This is how we make a difference – through our beliefs, thoughts, behaviours, and interactions.

Today, the 25th November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

It was around 2012 that I came across the statistic that 1 in 3 women and girls will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That is one billion females assaulted. These numbers were first published by the UN in 1997 are astounding.

One Billion Rising Event, Surry Hills 2015

This data is of particular interest to me because I am a part of the statistic, having experienced sexual violence more than once myself. I was 8 when it happened the first time. As I’m sitting here writing this piece, I struggle to fathom how this is still a major safety issue in 2020. The legacy of the #MeToo and many other movements have thankfully shone a light on this kind of violence and injustice worldwide.

It seems to me that this happens because of the systemic way in which we are able to attribute value to one group of people, while at the same time de-valuing others by way of a warped worldview that equates ‘otherness’ with ‘unworthiness’.

Another troubling example of where things go wrong is highlighted by the recent royal commission into the care of the elderly in Australia where I am based. This leads one to the conclusion that society has taken leave of its sense of responsibility. And in so doing it is failing our elders spectacularly with older women, in particular, finding themselves on the margins at retirement.

I believe that it is incumbent on us to ask why?

It is my experience that from very early in our lives, women and girls are sexualised and beauty is idolised, while at the same time, ageing is demonised. There is no beauty in ageing, right?

I’ve made it my mission with this project to elevate older women, and in so doing, to challenge this paradigm. My intent a project that validates older women and gives them a space to be seen, heard, and recognised purely for their being.

My aim of ‘making a difference’ is to shine a light on the insights and reflections of older women to inspire everyone and to make us wonder why our elders in general, and older women in particular, are largely invisible. The work I hope invites us to engage with the older women in our lives. To rejoice in their stories and make sense of what those stories reflect back to us about the experiences we have on a day to day basis.

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