Intimate Stranger: Restorative Social Commentary Video

4 05 2011

Julia A. Crawford, Arts in Transformation Concentration, Eastern University M.A, in Urban Studies 3/26/2011

Abstract

Intimate Stranger is a restorative social commentary video dance created with the intention of bringing critical awareness to young women about the way they respond to objectification. The piece unfolds through three sections, the first of which represent a young woman passively accepting objectification. It represents young women that believe they do not have the capacity to change what is taking place and also young women that choose to remain passive because it seems easier than speaking. As the video camera objectifies the dancer’s body, confusion, abdication of voice, and feeling powerless is symbolized in the movement. The dancer studies her reflection in the mirror seeing only what her objectifier sees.

The second section represents young women that choose to objectify themselves before someone else does, which also leads to them objectifying others. This is symbolized through the dancer taking control of the camera and moving in hardened and self-inspecting ways. The spoken word describes “man-talking” about other women, which is a perceived way to join those that objectify and be on the “powerful” side of the situation. The dancer’s movement represents compartmentalizing parts of self and striving to remain in control.

A transformation process begins to occur in the third section, which represents young women beginning to acknowledge their true image as a reflection of the Creator. Critical awareness occurs in the dancer, revealing that she does not need to passively accept objectification or participate in doing it. She becomes empowered in the knowledge that her voice matters regardless of the objectification that might still occur; she does have the capacity to influence her own life and the life of others by acknowledging who she has been created to be.

Rationale

The process depicted through the three sections is based on personal observations of young women as well as personal experience. Critical awareness about young women’s response to objectification is of importance because of the negative affects that occur. Fredrickson and Roberts discuss the objectification theory, “Objectification theory posits that girls and women are typically acculturated to internalize an observer’s perspective as a primary view of their physical selves” (Fredrickson & Roberts, p. 1). The affects of objectification may result in shame and anxiety that can reduce occurrences of peak motivational states and can cause a lack of emotional awareness (Fredrickson & Roberts, 2006). Young women are also conditioned to view themselves as something that needs alteration and to view different parts of the body separately while focusing on what is lacking (Greening, n.a.). Young women are at risk of not fulfilling their full potential, not realizing their gifts, and most critically, not acknowledging their true worth. 

Creative Process

After becoming clear about the vision of the piece, I invited a spoken word artist and dance artist to contribute. I shared words, images, and examples that fit within each of the three sections in the piece. Both of the artists expressed that the topic and concept resonated with them and we discussed their own experiences. The night before filming I enlisted the help of a writer to put some of the feelings into image filled sentences, these sentences were used as the text written on the body. The dance portion was filmed first and the spoken word was recorded shortly after. It was a challenge to direct the movement modes without having the sound to work from. In editing, I went back and forth between the sound and video, adjusting each to compliment until they seemed to satisfy one another.

Intended audience and placement 

The intended audience is young women in their early teens to mid twenties. The video could be dispersed through personal email or shown in a classroom. It would be an appropriate piece to be used for critical awareness by organizations with a mission that coincides with health and safety for women or by organizations wishing to positively influence self-efficacy in women.

References

Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (2006). Objectification Theory: Toward Understanding

Women’s Lived Experiences and Mental Health Risks. Psychology of Women

Quarterly. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x

Greening, K. D. (n.a.). The Objectification and Dismemberment of Women in the Media. Capital

University, URC Resources. Retrieved from http://www.kon.org/urc/v5/greening.html.

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