Awakening and Reclaiming Signs and Symbols of Femininity
Photographer Prue Stent’s work subverts and reclaims women’s bodies to present them in unique, challenging ways. Here is what she has to say about her series:
Cultural feminism teaches us that women should not model themselves on men. In this tradition, my work is a celebration of the sometimes ‘classic’ depiction of femininity reinterpreted through the frame of empowerment. The confidence of the work differentiates it from patriarchal stereotypes.
The American poet and feminist Adrienne Rich said, ‘The repossession by women of our bodies will bring far more essential change to human society than the seizing of the means of production by workers’.
The repossession and redefinition of the visual depiction of the female body is an important theme that informs much of my work. In particular my collaborative projects with Honey Long deliberately set out to subvert classic depictions of the female body that in the past have been considered to render women as frivolous, passive and even grotesque. Our work is a re-defining of common associations of femininity – sexual, passive, natural, pink – and transforming them into liberating imagery.
This work is not trying to define female identity as a whole but is unafraid to reclaim aspects that have been previously thought to be disempowering.
We strongly believe this repossession and redefinition of the depiction of the female body is part of the awakening consciousness and confidence of young feminists today. Femininity is undervalued. Some may find these notions confusing, disorienting, and painful. My work has sometimes been misinterpreted as a depiction of passive female vulnerability. Rather this is the vanguard of a positive transformation of traditional feminine cultural signs. This awakening is an exhilarating appreciation and confidence in how we choose to define our bodies and ourselves. We are defining the text not having the meaning imposed on us.