Women are an essential part of any community, yet their sense of belonging is often tied into gender roles, not always satisfying their sense of belonging. Mother, sister, partner, we all have women in our lives. I AM HERe is intended to mirror the voices of how men and women view women’s unique sense of belonging against the backdrop of our rural community. Lead artist Ruth Chase has sought to examine her own sense of belonging over the course of a year by asking questions through social media and taking her personal journey alongside the community. Now, the public is invited to share their own stories about themselves or the women in their lives by participating in the public art installation.
What does it mean to be a woman, a question I have never explored until this very moment.
From an early age, I noticed that being a “girl” put me in a place of vulnerability and I was very aware that physical danger was awaiting me if I wasn’t careful. So as a young adult “woman” I would make sure that my clothes and persona were tough enough to scare away predators.
Now I look back and see that it wasn’t until bearing a child, at the age of 40, that I began to connect with my womanhood. I was getting in touch with my body and its functions specific to having a child and becoming awakened to the physical characteristics that make me a WOMAN. I loved being pregnant, I loved my body and being able to hold another universe within.
I have spent a lot of time rejecting the expectations put on me by the outside world of what a woman is or should be, or should not be. I have never been sure of how I fit into the expectations of the world around me. I also, at times, did not want to own the power and blessings that come with femininity. On the inside, I felt like I hadn’t decided if I wanted to be feminine and on the outside, I knew to be a tomboy or punk sent a message to leave me alone, I’m not open for this “girl” business. Sometimes I wonder if I would have chosen to be a woman in this lifetime if I were given a choice before I was born. I suppose I have also been pissed off about being a woman, now that I think about it. So far, the most amazing thing about being a woman has been birthing my daughter, who by the way is VERY girly and VERY feminine. I’m having an ‘aha!’ moment writing this. I may even need a good cry.