The veil of ignorance can prevent us from knowing who we are. But we owe it to ourselves to explore our potential and seize our power. This is especially true for women and non-binary people because we are too often discouraged from embracing our strength. The national take-down of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford—who brought forward sexual assault allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—proved (once again) that society does not want us to assert ourselves. Still, I won’t back down. As painful as it was to watch the Kavanaugh story explode, I am plucking out the glass shards from my wounds and standing tall. But before I’m ready to fight hard again, I want to think hard. I need new strategies for how to cope and simply be. I’m sure many women and non-binary people will agree with the generality of that statement. It’s much harder to firm up the particulars of how to resist society that only wants us to be one way: subservient to good ol’ boys.
Though introspection can be difficult, it’s necessary. My piece, “A Burst of Butterflies,” is not simply a call to action for reflecting on our errors. Of course we must recognize our mistakes and grow, but we must monitor our negative self-talk, too. Women and non-binary people are blamed for so much that isn’t our fault. It is not productive to blame ourselves for things that are not our fault. We’re blamed and guilted for sexual assault as much as we’re blamed and guilted for situations involving emotional labor, domestic responsibilities, child-rearing, etc. More often than not, the situation in question is not our fault. We need to recognize that and silence the little voice in the back of our head that tells us otherwise. On the note of negative self-talk, it isn’t productive to harp on past mistakes when we’ve apologized, rectified the situation, and learned to do better.
I created “A Burst of Butterflies” to inspire viewers to consider the beauty of possibility. Sometimes darkness is all we can see, but that doesn’t mean it is the only thing that lies ahead. We can achieve change if we are willing to use our imaginations and do the work.
Christine Stoddard is a former Annmarie Sculpture Garden artist-in-residence and an M.F.A. DIAP candidate at the City College of New York (CUNY). Her work has appeared in special programs at the New York Transit Museum, the Queens Museum, the Poe Museum, and beyond. She also is the author of Water for the Cactus Woman (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing), among other titles, and the founder of Quail Bell Magazine. Born in Virginia to a Salvadoran mother and American father, Stoddard spent most of her early life in the Washington, D.C. area. Today she lives in Brooklyn with her husband/collaborator, David Fuchs.