Women Doing Things: Not waiting to be saved

A few years ago I was feeling discouraged by the volume of public discourse representing migrant women and poorer women and prostitutes and sex workers and a lot of other women as overwhelmingly passive, exploited and prone to victimhood, especially sexually. In that post, I lamented the morbid interest in showing women and children as abused and helpless, leaving aside the abundance of images of powerful politician-women and celebrities since I’m talking about regular folk. I feel pretty much the same three years later, so here is an updated group of Women Doing Things to celebrate the end of the year. Drinking Woman comes first, given the season.

Maquiladora women

Rice paddy woman

Aircraft industry women

Seducing woman

Heavy equipment driving woman

Migrating woman

Protesting women

Doctoring woman

Street-trading women

Reading woman

Rock-splitting woman

Writing woman

Performing woman

Inspiring woman

–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

12 thoughts on “Women Doing Things: Not waiting to be saved

  1. Ted Cheng

    What i found in taiwan always the Women like sex workers and the child sexuality are portrayed as passive victims, otherwise they should be something demon out of regular control. Usually those women with initiative only limits to certain representation of them, like women who used to be
    sex workers and now reform themselves to work so hard “for the new life”, or women who work hard for supporting her family and husband. Fortunately in these years there are another counter-representation such as stories of migrant women who fight against the difficulty and try to negotiate with the dominant culture. However, sexuality such
    as sex work is still more or less a stigma so that the story cannot deal with it directly–i mean, like the sex work should often be like an involuntary work accompanied with some hard life. that is, the enjoyment or fantasy or any desire of personal sexuality is still a secret in the closet. It is really obvious for children–we even have a statue against any online information that may suggest sex trade, yet most of them just for ONS, in order to protect children).
    While there are stories trying to get rid of victimization, on the other hand, what is more interesting in Taiwan is that there are some so-called sex trafficked victims who actually are not victims at all. Because the sex worker would be punished, and sometimes because they and their brothels have some problems, or even because they want to be repatriated without buying flying ticket after so many years as unauthorized/undocumented migrant workers, to pretend as a victim also becomes a choice of negotiation of life.

    Best, Ted

  2. Elizabeth Bernstein

    Dear Laura,
    Thank you, for posting this. I have been having exactly the same thoughts lately. The preoccupation with sexual harm unites people across the political spectrum and has become the central framing device for myriad humanitarian issues (from trafficking to Darfur to the Congo; even the recent sex-workers’ march in Washington was organized around the theme of violence). This is something that has leapt beyond the bounds of 1980s “victim feminism” and permeated the culture at large.

  3. asturiano

    Tan liberal que eres Laura… , aquí se ve claro como tú también censuras y como quieres leer y escuchar ciertas cosas y no otras.

    ¡Cobarde intelectual y moral!

    1. Laura Agustín

      no seas absurdo. estoy viajando y tengo un programa puesto que saca los comentarios que no van al grano de la entrada. supongo que fue asi con el tuyo.

  4. jodi sh doff

    Not only is drinking woman drinking, she’s drinking absinthe. And, as we all know, absinthe makes the heart grow fonder. Thanks for reminding the world of the full spectrum of what a woman is. (I am, however, as a former performing woman, amazed at the narrow stage that woman can perform on, and depressed at the reaction and lack of reaction of her audience).

    1. Laura Agustín

      I think we’d see more and different reactions if the audience were not aware of the photographer’s presence – obviously looming above them. Some of the men are hiding their faces, others may feel frozen by the camera. But the narrowness of her performing space is indeed amazing.

  5. Luke

    As a married man for some time, any views I might have had regarding women as being weak have long since vanished. Certainly in our relationship, I am better at certain things. She however surpasses my capabilities in many other areas. There certainly is very little, if anything, that cannot be done by women in the work place. The problems arise with stereotyping both genders.

  6. Pingback: Women with Initiative

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