Not Waving But Drowning
Not Waving But Drowning is a look inside an Evangelical marriage. These images show the truth of a life lived in the confines of oppressive gender roles, cult-like manipulation, and the isolation of Fundamentalism.
Each image is equivalence for the unseen, for the reality behind facade. Despite the smiles and appearance of perfection, Complementarianism is an abusive system in which a wife serves her husband as a helpmeet, remains silent, and prays for her spouse to become a better man. The man is the head of the woman, and the woman is to do what she is told. Even her body is not her own. Because churches worship the institution of marriage as a reflection of Christ's relationship with the church pastors put the institution above the people in it. If a woman leaves she will be shunned.
I use self-portraiture to share my own experience within the Fundamentalist Lifestyle without being explicitly autobiographical; I unmask what is beneath the veneer of "perfect" marriages and families. My chosen medium of collodion used with contemporary digital media represents the outdated behaviors and rules imposed on women by Fundamentalism.
The title of the series is taken from the Stevie Smith poem by the same name. The title suggests a kind of frantic despair beneath the surface of a smiling, perfect demeanor. It represents the woman who smiles every Sunday while protecting her husband with silence and prayers for change.
The image titles come from The Awakening by Kate Chopin and are sequenced by their titles’ place within the story. Unlike Mrs. Pontellier, I choose to thrive in my freedom. I seek to unmask, to reveal truth. Growing up in Fundamentalist Christianity, I endured the cognitive dissonance of wearing the smiling facade to mask the oppressive truth. By unmasking that truth, I set myself free from the burden of my silence. This is my protest. I will no longer be silent. I choose to live.