Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not sure what to think.

First: a couple of days ago, I wrote a draft of a post that discussed the bisexual movement's shift away from feminism. I saved it. Then, I went back into it to steal one little piece of it for a new post, and somehow completely lost my bearings and deleted the whole thing. So. I may or may not be posting about that at some point. There is something very un-fun about recreating an entire post.

Second: I am overwhelmed right now with deadlines and travel. So it is likely that I won't be posting much for the next week. If you can't live without my witty and insightful words (ha), please check out the archives.

Third: My actual post for today:

Thanks to Belledame for the tip to Victoria's blog.

I had read about this (or something similar) earlier at Dooce, and at the time, I was a bit uncomfortable. I mean -

WHY is it moving when this happens?

I don't mean, "why is it moving that he survived and is reunited with his wife."

I mean, what is it we are supposed to be feeling? Are we supposed to be looking at his wife as noble? I hope not.

That may seem callous of me. It's not that I don't feel for the pain he's suffered or that I'm not moved by his survival and by the fact that he's home and safe and with the woman he loves. It's that I'm disturbed by the debate over whether or not his bride looks shell-shocked. It's that I sense an undertone of what a lucky man he is that his wife will still love him, and of what a brave, selfless woman she is. And these things echo for me a lot of the same thoughts that people sometimes express when a person without a disability dates or marries a person with a disability.

And so, again, I wonder, what is it that we are supposed to be feeling? What did the photographer want us to see in these pictures? Why did she feel that this moment was worthy of capturing in such detail? To what extent is she responsible - because she has made images into a story - for the narrative that we invent as we view these pictures?

And what are these narratives that we invent?

And if the narratives involve the wife as heroic for standing by her man, then why is this seen as exceptional? Are we really that shallow that most people would leave a partner for something like this?


Anonymous said...

I, too, feel ambivalent about the photographs. Especially when I started to see I was getting an influx of web traffic from There was a discussion (here) about the photos that had some really awful overtones. Of course any compelling photo series can (perhaps should) provoke that. One guy was essentially calling for the photographer's head (still not entirely clear on why - because of the very ambivalence that was captured?), and posted, of all things, a link to my blog in an effort to bolster said call. (Because one of the photos from the series I'd excerpted captured the bride actually smiling.)

Here's the thing. It was a news story. The pictures were shot the way news photos are shot. You capture the happiness, the sadness, the in-betweenness (sometimes you've gotta make up words, you know?) of it all. I'd venture to guess they had a separate "wedding photographer" capturing just the happy "looking-into-the-camera-together blissful-newlywed" shots.

I'd venture to guess that if you had someone taking pictures at any wedding with the specific goal of capturing the range of emotions, the way this series did, you'd get a lot of the same stuff, e.g., the bride and/or groom looking (and perhaps being) ambivalent along with everyone else.

(It's interesting for me to consider that by the very fact of the injured vet's wounds, one can't necessarily read anything of his facial expressions - so of course, only those belonging to his new wife are being so closely examined.)

I struggled for a long time about why - or indeed whether - I wanted to post those pictures. I didn't want to contribute to any "public freak show" dynamic that could possibly develop (and of course, e.g. through digg, has indeed developed).

I just wanted to recognize them and wish them happiness, independent of all the public interpretations those photos would inevitably elicit. Independent of the war itself, and all that the groom's being one if its newly minted veterans inevitably means for them as a couple.

The bottom line, for me, was damn, they're so young. Young to marry as it is; younger still, to be under such a public microscope. But conducting themselves, it seemed to me (from my very subjective stranger's viewpoint) with a great degree of grace.

Dunno if that clarifies or further muddies things, but I thought the questions you asked in your post merited exploration.

Best - Victoria

P.S. If you ever do get around to reconstituting that bisexual women and feminism post, I'll be glad to read it :)

belledame222 said...

I wasn't thinking anything like that wrt the bride or the expression, mostly, as VM says: they're so -young.- Yes, he's getting on with his life, and mazel tov, but for fuck's sake, look what They've done to him. and for what? bastards.

Cassandra Says said...

PF - The link you posted to whatever happened to the soldier isn't working, just FYI. I got a "this has been removed" message.So, can't really address that part of the post since I don't know what happened.
If you do (re)write the piece about the disconnect between the bi movement (to the extent that there is one - the herding cats analogy comes to mind here) I'd like to read it. My take is that the specifically lesbian part of feminism was at one point so hostile to bisexual women that most ran away to avoid the name-calling. I know I took all kinds of (very personal) criticism at university of the "sleeping with the enemy" and "you're not really attracted to men, you just think you are" varieties.