Since the summer of 2015, photojournalism venture The ‘I’m Tired’ Project has been revealing the invisible effects of everyday micro-aggressions and assumptions through body art. A creative and visual way to raise awareness of various kinds of intolerance, the project was created by students Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans while they were both attending the University of Nottingham.
While neither had dabbled in social activism before, they soon realized that they were sick of complaining about inequalities and not doing anything about it. Using powerful black and white images, the pair decided to create a space for anonymous expression where women and men are invited to join a dynamic community telling personal and often universal truths.
More info: Instagram (h/t: konbini)
“I’m tired of being identified by my tribe. “”Hi, and what is your name?” Usually how you start a conversation right? Well in my country of Kenya, your name is also used to determine which part of the country you are from which comes with certain stereotypes. Especially during an election year, my people seem to forget we are all from the same land and are quick to judge each other based on their ethnic group. “With 42 tribes in Kenya it’s easy to highlight our differences especially for people with ill intentions. Our politicians use tribe to divide and rule our country. They stand on podiums and incite hatred towards various tribe and we, as a gullible people, somehow never seem to understand that the politician is trying to divide us for his or her selfish gain. As a result, every election year, hundreds of people are slaughtered, usually from ethnic minority groups. “Our parents from a young age always lecture us on who our friends should be based on their tribe even though as a kid, you see no reason to judge your friends. “In business, it’s common practice for people to identify themselves with Anglicised names like “Joe or John” simply because they’re far more likely to lose a contract if they were to identify themselves by their real name – their African name. Mention your surname and one immediately identifies which part of the country you’re from and lo and behold if you’re not from the same ethnic background as your employer, it can often cost you your opportunity for progression. “I’m tired of the stereotypes. I’m tired of the hate mongering. I’m tired of the divisions and classes we put each other based on our tribe. “I hope one day we would wake up as a people and realise, we are one. One people from one land, one country, our country Kenya.” Photo credit: Phyllis Githua-Mokaya Photo editing: Phyllis Githua-Mokaya and Harriet Evans _____________________________________________ This photograph was taken during our recent trip to Nairobi, Kenya in collaboration with @CreativesGarage – a space where creatives from all walks of life can come together to network, collaborate and push boundaries. Funded by Arts Council England.
“I’m tired of explaining consent. “It really is very simple. “Yes, you may have some of my fries.” “Yes, you may have my number.” “Yes, you may touch me.” But before all this, you must ask. Why are we not asking? When did consent become assumed? “Initially I was very quiet about it. Very patient and polite, but not anymore. It is not acceptable that my “no’ is diluted to a “strong maybe” after 6 tequila shots and half a bottle of gin. That at noon in upmarket Westlands it’s “No” but at 2am in Wangige, a lower, sketchier side of Nairobi, where I might literally have my neck chopped off, it’s “absolutely yes!” because I am too scared of what might happen to me if I say no. “And if I say no and experience abuse? the questions are “what were you doing there?” “why were you there at that time?” “what did you expect of a person who lives there?” It is, of course, my fault. “We seem to have all accepted that we are living among rapists, and we are okay with it because eventually someone will say yes, we do not care to know whether they were coerced. It doesn’t matter how this so-called ‘consent’ came about. “I’m tired of hearing another victim have to explain why they were there that late, or had those many drinks, or what they were wearing. It appears that “no” is only a “no” if it is under unique circumstances, all of which are constantly changing to protect the perpetrator. “Consent seems so complex, but it’s not. Really. Just ask.” Photo credit: Phyllis Githua-Mokaya Photo editing: Phyllis Githua-Mokaya and Harriet Evans _____________________________________________ This photograph was taken during our trip to Nairobi, Kenya in collaboration with @creativesgarage – a space where creatives from all walks of life can come together to network, collaborate and push boundaries. We can’t thank the entire team at CG enough for their support. www.creativesgarage.org/ This trip was made possible through funding from Arts Council England.
“I’m tired of the expectation to bleach my skin. “It all started in high school where people would ask me how it felt to be the ‘darker one’ at home, since I schooled with my sister and people had seen my mom – both are lighter than me. Others even started insinuating that I was slowly bleaching myself cause I grew up to be a shade or two lighter, which is quite normal. It still didn’t make me feel any less/more of a woman because to me it’s just a skin color. “This has also extended to my work life. As an actress starting out, I get a number of audition descriptions specifically asking for ‘light skin girls’. Once, during a promotion job, we were told to separate ourselves into two groups – light skins and dark skins. All the dark skin women didn’t get the job. “In the Central Business District of downtown Nairobi, women sell skin bleaching oils and creams. They approached me a few times saying I could look like ‘them’, bearing in mind that some of them are originally light skin to trick you into believing that the bleaching oils really work. “It tires me everyday. I’m tired of people judging others based on the lightness of their skin color, causing insecurities to many. Many women end up feeling unsure whether they can get jobs or feel comfortable even showing their skin. “We are all different and diverse in many ways that should all be accepted. The black woman especially should be taken as she naturally is – dipped in chocolate, bronzed in elegance, enameled with grace and toasted in beauty. “No one should be forced to feel uncomfortable in their skin.” ———————— This photograph was taken during our trip to Nairobi, Kenya in collaboration with @creativesgarage – a space where creatives from all walks of life can come together to network, collaborate and push boundaries. We can’t thank the entire team at CG enough for their support. www.creativesgarage.org/ This trip was made possible through funding from Arts Council England.
“I’m tired of struggling for respect as an atheist in Middle Eastern Society. “Life as an Atheist in a Middle Eastern diaspora culture is difficult. You struggle with your own identity in a country you grew up in, as well as with your cultural heritage from your parents. Even more so if your people are Assyrians – an endangered minority in Syria, Iraq and Turkey. The Assyrians are the indigenous people of Mesopotamia and are a linguistic, religious and ethnic minority in the Middle East that struggles for survival as a community. Due to the current political turmoil in all three countries and the persecution of religious minorities in numerous Middle Eastern countries by extremism, religion and church have become the centre of community life. “Because of this, my own community denies my existence as an Atheist. “As a non-believer, I’m considered as either a traitor and thus not part of the community anymore, or I am mocked as crazy and mentally unstable; there is no room for tolerance. Insults have gone as far as calling me a heretic, a whore and a worshipper of Satan (which to some extent is ironic, since as I don’t believe in God, I also don’t believe in Satan). “I only came out as an Atheist a few weeks ago. After keeping it a secret for 12 years I decided to tell the world, including my family, my community and my friends, who I really am. I received great support from friends in similar situations and experiences. Sadly, my own people either attacked me verbally or ignored me. “I have been shunned. I had already experienced this to a certain extent because of my activism for LGBTQ+, feminism, and religious tolerance in my community. But being shunned hurts, and for now I’m not only struggling with the lack of respect or acceptance by my own people, including my relatives, but I also struggle with my own identity as a Middle Eastern Atheist. How can I say I belong to this minority; the minority’s language which I speak, which I grew up in, if I’m not welcome anymore?” (Head to the link in our bio for the continued Facebook post)
“I’m tired of constructed ideals of beauty making me feel inadequate. “When I was younger, I never struggled with my appearance. I didn’t think I was the most attractive girl, but I never put too much thought into what I looked like. I was always taught that beauty was from within and what you looked like had no bearing on you, so I just didn’t take notice. I played outside, I danced, I did gymnastics and I ate things that I liked and that made me happy. I didn’t particularly care for make up or what my hair looked like, I just wanted to enjoy myself. “I started to become aware of my appearance when I was 11. “I remember stepping into school and seeing all these new girls, their hair was silky and straight. My hair was wild and frizzy. They were wearing make up. My face was plain and pale. They had already developed supermodel curves. I had the curves of a stick. In PE, they wore shorts and their legs were bare and smooth. Mine were hairy, and I was bullied for it. I didn’t fit in with this kind of beauty, but I was too young to realise that not everyone does and that’s ok. My mum told me that looks weren’t everything, and that I was beautiful in my own ways, and not to place my own self worth on how I looked. “But, I begged my mum to shave my legs; get my hair cut; straighten it; pluck my eyebrows; wear make up and get the most ‘on trend’ trousers that would hang off my hips. It was then, I now realise, that ‘beauty’ had been constructed for me, and no matter how many times my mum tried to empower me, I wouldn’t listen. “So, I shaved my legs; I got my hair cut; I straightened it; I plucked my eyebrows; I wore make up and I bought the ‘on trend’ trousers. It still wasn’t enough, but I was content. “Until someone joked I was fat. “I had enough confidence to look at myself and know that deep down I wasn’t fat. I was far from fat. But that joke ingrained within me, gnawing at my insides. So I cut meals, I exercised for hours. I lied. But I still wasn’t happy. “I would spend hours scouring over pictures of women in magazines and in music videos. I was nowhere near that level of perfection, so I worked harder.” (Head to the link in our bio for the continued FB post)
“I’m tired of being fetishised because of my sexuality. “From the first moment I came out as a gay woman, the fetishisation of my identity has been made painfully clear: “How do you fuck?” “Do you use dildos?” “How do you get each other off?” “Can I watch?” “Can I join in?”. I can’t seem to get away from these questions; I’ve heard them at school, at university, at work, at the supermarket, in the street, and (of course) online. It feels like my body is up for comment as often, and as lecherously, as the term “lesbian porn” is searched for on PornHub. “The sexualisation of queer people goes far beyond verbal harassment from curious fuckboys – it is entrenched in the fabric of our culture on all levels. It’s the reason we don’t have LGBTQ+ characters in children’s films (and no, that one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in Beauty and the Beast doesn’t count) – because we are seen as inappropriate, dirty, and explicit just by existing. It’s the reason teachers are warned not to come out, and why there have been campaigns to ban LGBTQ+ people from the profession; if we let queer people near children, who knows how they will corrupt them with their sexual deviance. I was told, while at high school, that we couldn’t have any teachers identify themselves as safe for LGBTQ+ students to talk to, because it might lead to “inappropriate relationships”. “This poisonous assumption is having a devastating impact on the queer community, as it destroys our ability to form meaningful intergenerational friendships and mentor relationships for fear of it being labelled as something sinister. It is directly isolating queer youth, who have no where to turn for support and knowledge except the same internet pages and comment sections that tell them they are wrong. “A few months ago YouTube was embroiled in a scandal after it was revealed the site was blocking LGBTQ+ content from young people in a “Restricted Mode” setting. I broke the story in a video on my own Youtube channel (which was itself, ironically, blocked under Restricted Mode) and the internet was outraged. (Check out our Facebook page for the continued post)
“I’m tired of always being up for comment. “It seems that the way I choose to live my life, the ways I choose to express myself, and who I am as a person is consistently up for comment. Friends and strangers alike feel the need, no, feel entitled to express their opinion and comment on every facet of my being. “I’m tired of people commenting on my body; the well-meaning friends and relatives who say “Should you really be eating that?”, the strangers who don’t feel that the food I consume is up to their, what I assume is nutritionally-perfect, standards and feel like they should tell me so. The constant condemnation comes from all angles. Once, a group of men who I had never encountered before in my life shouted: “Fat cunt, lose some weight” at me from a car. Another time, at work, someone I was serving told me to “Lay off the cupcakes, yeah?”. Please remind me why the food I consume, or the way I look, any of your business? “This is harshly juxtaposed to the levels of street harassment I receive, like the 85% of women in the UK who’ve experienced street harassment, which focuses around graphic sex. Comments about the things people would do to various parts of my body, people across the street miming sexual gestures of what they’d to to me if they had their way, lewd comments from complete strangers on photos or videos of me. “My body is violently objected to, or grossly objectified. It’s hard to decide which one makes me feel worse. “I’m tired of people commenting on the things I do and who I am. The strangers who pass comment when I’m running or skating or otherwise existing in the public world, the people online who try to police what I think and feel. Every single time I hit publish on something I’ve written I feel a wave of fear that this will be another time that I can’t go online without hundreds of people taking time out of their day to tweet me and call me idiotic or pathetic or threaten me with rape and violence, simply because they don’t like what I have to say. Yes, putting my opinion ‘out there’ leaves me open to comment, but it shouldn’t make me question my safety for doing so…” (Link in our bio to the continued Facebook post)
“I’m tired of being told I’m not real. “I totally support your right to call yourself a woman,’ someone told me the other day. “But you’re not a real woman.” “A different woman on a TV panel: “If you have the inner workings of a man, you’ll never be a real woman,” I was informed. “Transgender women are frequently called upon to prove their credentials to womanhood. But what makes a woman real? Gender and sex are different things and no trans person I know is denying the fact we were assigned the wrong sex at birth. Yes, we started life with the cards we were dealt, but they were no less real. “Intersex people may possess sexual characteristics of both males and females. Are they not real? Some women have more testosterone than I do. Some women have had hysterectomies and yet their realness or womanhood is rarely, and mercifully, questioned. “What about trans people who are modifying their sexual characteristics? Does that make them more or less real? “This constant expectation that I will provide ‘receipts’ for my womanhood is both exhausting and dangerous. It’s classic gaslighting. People repeat the same refrain enough times and you too start to question your reality. The lights aren’t getting dimmer. But they do. “You see, eventually you start to believe what you’re hearing. I’m not a woman, I’m mad, or unhinged, or psychotic. It doesn’t matter that I knew I was a girl from infancy, because I’m not real. I’m “a man in a frock”. Is it any wonder trans people are so highly at risk of mental health problems. ‘You had me fooled.’ ‘You can’t tell you’re a man.’ ‘You look great for a trans person.’ “Some respite can be found in other trans people. There’s no one, correct way to be trans but we’ve all – I imagine – experienced something of this gaslighting. Sometimes it takes the solidarity of transgender people to reinforce our realness. We are real, flesh and blood people. Read more over on our Facebook page – link is in our bio! #TheImTiredProject #imtired
“I’m tired of hiding the effects of my anxiety. “For as long as I can remember, my anxiety has effected my life both physically and mentally. “Having anxiety means I constantly analyze everything I say and or do. At times, it’s to the point where I worry about things that haven’t even happened and may never happen. There are times I’m completely unaware of my anxiety. “Anxiety constantly affects my relationships with both my friends and family. My anxiety has even prevented or destroyed a good friendship. When I’m asked what happened, I tell them that my anxiety got the best of me. I’ve had people say to me that my anxiety is me being self-centered because I’m only thinking about me. “My anxiety hasn’t just affected me mentally, but physically too. I used to feed my anxiety with food that wasn’t beneficial to my body. When I stepped on the scale three months ago and saw that I had gained twenty pounds over two years, my anxiety took me down an entirely new path. Worrying about my weight gain, I lost my appetite. Three months later, I have lost fifteen pounds. In the first month, I would skip breakfast. For lunch, I’d probably have fruit, and then I’d pick away at my dinner, even after being physically active all day. “I lost eight pounds in that first month. “Over the past two months, I have slowly started re-introducing meals, such as having breakfast, into my life. Ironically, I still get anxiety about gaining back all the weight my anxiety has caused me to lose. My heart races as fast as a marathon runner and pounds so hard, I feel it through my body, making me light headed if I sit or stand too suddenly. I get mind-numbing headaches, which can affect my whole day. “As one might expect, society has had a huge impact on my anxiety since my early teenage years. Puberty starts, and all of a sudden how you look and act fully determines how accepted you really are as a person by your peers. Our society is full of so many unrealistic standards; how many friends do you have on Facebook? How many likes did you get on your selfie? This all determines your popularity…” (The link to the continued Facebook post is in our bio)
“I’m tired of ‘black’ being a personality trait. “Growing up in London, I’ve been told from a young age in many variants that essentially how I speak and how I behave is not reflective of my skin colour. Whether it is ‘you’re quite posh, aren’t you?’ or ‘you don’t act black’, it is always implied that how I am is fundamentally incorrect and I should adhere to my respective stereotype. “Perhaps I should speak in slang and wear low riding tracksuit bottoms, innit? Ironically, it’s been mostly black people that have said these things to me. “While at university, I had already taught myself to not take these ‘observations’ personally and just laugh it off or even play up to it. However, being a little older now, I know I don’t have to facilitate anyone else’s preconceptions and be made to feel bad about myself. And it’s not as if it comes from a malicious or hateful place. It’s just society has a way of conditioning us, and this project is actively working against that. Not because we’re all rebels but because talking about all the issues people are ignorant about will hopefully change the way we see individuals. “Because we all are individuals.” Photo credit: Paula Akpan Editing credit: Ming Au
“I’m tired of the world’s obsession with romantic love. “I’m not interested in the love they keeping telling me about in the movies. “It is So. Fucking. Boring. “It’s a very exclusive and contrived love that we are all supposed to aspire to. “It’s a romantic and carnal love that is reserved almost always for the beautiful, white, thin and heterosexual. (It’s a love that lasts forever, by the way, else it doesn’t count). “No wonder that those of us who don’t fit into that feel like failures, or don’t appreciate the love we do have in our lives, because we’re too busy trying to shoehorn it into this template of normative idyll. “This love is deliberately shoved down our throats precisely because so many of us cannot have it (and actually, upon examination, don’t necessarily need or want it anyway). This love is often performative and competitive and can serve to make those outside of it feel small and inadequate. “I don’t wish to undermine romantic love. It’s wonderful and exciting and one of the many joys of being human. But it’s not the most important one and it has a much wider expansion than the films are willing to show us. The films don’t want to romanticise fat love, black love, queer love, platonic love, non monogamous love or the small and woefully uncelebrated love and dedication of carers, nurses and teachers. They don’t want to celebrate love for nature, for words, for art, for pets, for family (blood related or otherwise), for yourself, for knowledge, for the body that labours and functions for you every day, for food, for dancing. They don’t care about the small and mundane things that actually make love what it is – the unsexy, everyday rituals that add up to the whole sum of being cared for and cherished and SEEN for who you are. We can have all these things going for us and yet still feel deprived because we haven’t found ‘the one’. If you believe in that idea, I sincerely hope you have or will find it. But it’s a belief that I fear gives some heart but most grief, in the end. (Link to the continued Facebook post in our bio)
“I’m tired of gender needing explanations. “As a young woman, folks who have an old school mindset try to beat it into my head that “real women” do this and “real men” do that; being stuck on how society was, believing gender really defined who you had to be, is old school. Nowadays when I choose to do something like walk around with a shaved head or raise my hand, exposing armpit hair, strangers who it bothers twist their face, obviously defeminizing me in their heads. It makes me feel disappointed because for some odd reason, simply not shaving where I ideally should has put me in situations where I have been harassed verbally. “Three months ago I read a blog post written by a woman who lives in the same city as me also rocking the shaved head look. She talked about harassment she dealt with while walking home alone one day. Two men followed her yelling insults at her because they assumed she was transgender. Her body was “too slender” and her head bald, that was all they needed to see to decide to harass someone they couldn’t understand or respect. “Unfortunately the attacking doesn’t stop when you go home, because internet trolls exist. Now we have Instagram or Twitter where you can find trolls harassing an individual. They try to justify themselves harassing a person by using the “real women” or “real men” line. On a post where a woman is reclaiming her body in whatever form, trolls need to add the phrase “real women” before or after degrading her. On a transgender person’s account, there’ll be a negative Nancy aggressively asking why did the person do this, “real women can get pregnant”, “real men have penises”. If a man wears make up in a picture, people who already chose to emasculate him want an explanation. If a person refers to themselves as non-binary, someone feels the need to bring up genitalia. It seems like people are fixated on telling someone their identity, not because they’re being a realist, but because they choose to be angry about something they do not and do not want to understand. Being able to say anything behind a screen makes some people a little less gracious towards others… read more on our Facebook page /theimtiredproject
“I’m tired of still having to defend Planned Parenthood. “If I said I was seeking treatment at Planned Parenthood, odds are many would think I am getting an abortion before they would think I might be getting an STI screening, a contraceptive prescription, cancer screening or possibly getting started on prenatal care. Unfortunately, a visit to Planned Parenthood has become synonymous with getting an abortion, and this procedure has come to define women’s health care. “The reputation of Planned Parenthood rests with a small percentage of what they offer; cancer screenings, STI tests and treatment, and contraception make up 84% of services provided. So why is the focus of the public’s discussion on their administering abortions and not on the fact that they offer a full scope of health care for all women, especially in undeserved and underprivileged populations? Being the largest provider of sex education, they realistically take on the task of having pregnancy be a choice. “A female’s body is unique in its ability to create, carry and nourish a new life, and women’s health care necessitates specialized consideration of this biological system. Planned Parenthood is financially and geographically accessible to help a woman from first menstruation through menopause and beyond. They are there to assist with all facets of this journey that can include a woman’s happiest moments or possibly their saddest. Planned Parenthood is there for every woman in any circumstance. “I grew up in Colorado Springs, a notoriously conservative city, and it exhausts me to listen to my friends and parent’s friends there tell me that abortion in murder and Planned Parenthood is evil. While holding back tears in my eyes and with fire in my heart, I try to explain Planned Parenthood’s mission only to be received with cold, wordless, blank stares. I am left to wonder if their minds are made up and my words are falling on deaf ears.” Photo credit: Rob Olsson Editing credit: Rob Olsson
“I’m tired of being either a slut or a prude. “As a teenager I went through both stages. In search of myself I let other men and women explore my body and I theirs. We learned from each other. There was no judgment. Until someone decided that I was a slut. That hit me hard. I’d never thought about myself as a slut before. Why should I have? And what does that even mean? What’s wrong with having sex? I was being safe and I wasn’t harming anyone. Nonetheless I felt awful, so I stopped engaging in any sort of sexual act, and I pledged celibacy for a year. Despite how it may sound, ultimately I didn’t do it for the sake of other people’s opinions. I did it for myself. I wanted to focus on myself and myself only. And for me that required no sex. But it wasn’t long before I heard someone whisper ‘prude’. “Unfortunately, in a society where individuality and freedom of action is supposedly encouraged, men and women are still tearing each other to pieces. For the sake of what? What I do does not affect you. Who I fuck or do not fuck is none of your business. “Labels are a curse. They confine our capabilities and limit our abilities. And yet there is nothing I can do to avoid them. In a society where personal identity is defined by our principles and marked by our actions, it’s almost inconceivable to have an opinion without falling under some sort of categorization. Fine. I understand; and I could go as far as accepting this seemingly inevitable consequence…up to a point. “That point is reached when women are prevented from embracing their own sexuality. I want to explore my sensuality. I want to understand what I like and what I don’t like. I want to feel free to abstain from sex without being characterised as a “prude” and I want to fuck whoever I wish to fuck without being stigmatised as a “slut”. “This slut/prude dichotomy is most heavily present in our opinion of women; even in terms of how we interact with ourselves. Masturbation plays a key role through the phase between childhood and womanhood, and yet there is still stigma surrounding it for girls; women to this day are deemed ‘dirty’ or distasteful for touching themselves.” (See our FB for the continued post)
“I’m tired of being told women can’t be funny. “When I was cast in my first comedy show, someone asked if I’d slept with the director to get in. I laughed, and then realised they weren’t joking. “When I finished my very first show, coming off stage, flushed with success, I was greeted by a friend who told me that I was really funny “for a girl”. “When a show I was working on got reviewed, the reviewer talked about how hilarious and well-acted the play was, singling out each actor and saying how “charming” or “impressive” they were. For me, they added in how pretty I was. Again, I laughed outwardly, but felt demeaned by it. Why did they feel the need to bring my looks into it? Was I not entertaining enough in my own right? Why not mention how attractive any of the boys were? “When I was lucky enough to get into an international arts festival, several people inferred that the only reason I had been selected was because I was female. “Comedy is oversaturated with funny men”, they said, and the occasional token female has to be thrown in to maintain a kind of balance. At the time, a big part of me believed them. Rather than growing in confidence with more practice, I felt more and more that I didn’t deserve to be there. “When I was eighteen, a guy I was doing a scene with kept pushing things further and further for laughs. In the end I was put into a sexual situation where I felt so uncomfortable that someone else had to step in and stop him. I didn’t feel I could call him out on it, because surely he was only trying to be funny, but I was terrified doing comedy for months afterwards. I still remember how sick to the stomach I felt. Knowing no matter how smart or funny I tried to be there would always be someone who would just see me as an opportunity for a laugh by trying to cop a feel made me feel worthless. Was it only funny if I ended up in a compromising position? Am I only funny if my humour is directly related to my sex appeal? “My experience is not unusual. In fact, speaking to some of the women I’ve worked with, my experiences are pretty tame in comparison. (See our Facebook page for the continued post)
“I’m tired of being a gay in Asian culture. “As a gay Asian man, I am constantly anxious about coming out to my parents and grandparents. My confession would become a family scandal that brings me blame and isolation and my parents shock and shame. Sometimes, even my friends don’t accept me for who I am. I remember that once a classmate told me: “It’s lucky that you grow up in a big international city. In my hometown, which is small and remote, nobody would want to play with you. People would think you are a monster.” “One of the prevalent forces of the taboos associated with homosexuality comes from the media, which sometimes correlates homosexuality with aids, sex and crime. “Homosexuals” and “lecherous” are two words that often go together in the news. Moreover, due to society’s prejudice, there is extremely limited discussion about homosexuality. As a result, the negative image that the media portrays and limited access to the true image of gay help develop a group of false beliefs. The older generation, mainly that of my parents and grandparents, tend to automatically believe the media that homosexuality equates to sexual disease, reckless sexual behaviours and abnormality. “Another important factor is that it contradicts the culture of having offspring, and in many Asian cultures, parents place a great deal of value on having grandsons and granddaughters, and continuing the family name. Being gay is seen as depriving your parents of the joy of being grandmothers and grandfathers. I truly understand the pain and disappointment of not able to become grandparents, and despite the fact that there are many options open to me should I decide to have children, I blame myself for making my parents feel this way. I guess somehow everyone would like to see the continuation of the family blood and traditions. “An anxiety among gays in Asian cultures persists. Since being gay is a dishonour, not many gays come out, and our society doesn’t talk much about it. Therefore, people don’t know what being gay really feels like and hold many wrong beliefs…” (Check our Facebook for the continued post)
“I’m tired of being judged for not being married or having kids. “I once saw an interview with Shonda Rhimes discussing her opinion about wanting to be married and having children. She stated she could never see herself being married and never had a desire for it. She continued to state that society often shames women for this because we’re supposed to “want it” and if not; “there must be something wrong”. “Whenever I tell people I don’t have kids, I get one of two responses; either the person is “proud” of me (and possibly impressed), or they appear to be confused as if they’re trying to assess why. I also have friends who say “I should be married with kids by now” despite all their accomplishments. “As for my parents, they have two different opinions about my status as a 31 year-old, single, childless woman. My mother is “proud” of me and my father at times states “it would be nice if you gave me a grandchild before I passed away” as if I am consciously not having a child to spite him. In a past conversation, he stated “you don’t want kids”, as if it would give him an understanding about my childless life. I’m often annoyed by these responses simply because I always have to explain why I am childless and single. During my mid twenties, I used to wonder if I was “failing as a woman”; often questioning, if “I’m good enough” due to being single and childless. Once I turned 30, I began to embrace life and became appreciative of the things I have achieved in my life thus far. I’ve also come to the realization these things may not happen for me, and have thought of adopting as an option. “It was only as of 1920 women were allowed to vote and work. Before then, a woman’s purpose was only to provide domestic services in her household. With that being said, people still have those values ingrained in them regarding what a “woman’s role” should be and in turn, attempt to pass it on to their children, such as raising girls to keep the house clean and cook as well as raising boys to find a woman who has these qualities while not teaching them to be self-sufficient.” (Check our Facebook for the continued post)
“I’m tired of pretending his emotional abuse hasn’t left scars. “He was my first boyfriend, and had always been slightly commanding before we had even got together, but I thought he must simply be strong willed or driven. However, just three weeks into our relationship that I realised something was not quite right. I had attended my best friend’s birthday party and the next day he just shut off. I asked him why multiple times before he revealed that he had found my outfit ‘repulsive’, and that he thought I was ‘better than that.’ I had been wearing a skirt with tights, a crop top and leather jacket, not that it matters. I had never been made to feel so disgusting or small as I had in that moment. “From then on I let him control my life without even realising it. If my nails grew too long for his liking he would watch whilst I cut them; if I was stressed due to work he told me that my struggles were nothing compared to his. He isolated me from my friends who he deemed ‘too loud,’ ‘too confident’ and ‘too excitable.’ He claimed that my parents fed me unhealthy foods and they drank too much, and that if I wanted to stay with him then I better stop partying. He even made me give up my passion for theatre, as he did not want me to fraternise with any guys. Eventually I believed only he could give me happiness. Towards the end of our relationship I entered the darkest point of my life. I was afraid to be tagged in photos or even go out for coffee with a mate for fear of what he would say to me. “It only took me 9 months to slip into that rut. When I told him I was finally done with him he would threaten to kill himself or threaten to kill me. He would ring me telling me he was one razor cut away from killing himself. I would instantly panic and I would ring his mother who would inform me that he was in fact sat next to her eating pizza without a care in the world. He eventually blocked my number on his mothers phone so that I could only talk to him. “One morning I woke up and blocked him on every platform possible, after I finally spoke to my mum about everything the night before.” (Check our Facebook for the continued post)
“I’m tired of the fetishisation of Asian women. “As an Asian-American woman, I have experienced the uniquely damaging intersection of sexualized, racialized violence coupled with the model minority myth – a tool of white supremacy meant to silence my voice. The model minority myth expects Asian Americans, especially women, to be silent and swallow their pain and their pride. It is racism propped up and disguised as compliments of our “work ethic,” “politeness” and successes. “At least once a week, men on the street call out to me, “Hey there, sexy china doll.” Or sometimes they whisper it in my ear as they walk past. One time, it led to me being sexually assaulted. Each instance of harassment erodes my being a little bit more, until I’m sometimes left to wonder, “who am I, do I belong here and can I just be allowed to exist?” “Let me be loud and clear: the perception of Asian women as exotic and submissive is NOT a compliment. It is an act of violence that stems from a long and ugly legacy of war, colonization and imperialism. This legacy continues to leach like a poison into our society at large, from false and whitewashed representation on TV and movie screens to sexual violence in communities across the world. “The idea that we are submissive creates the false assumption that “we want it,” or “we’re asking for it” or that “we enjoy being dominated.” The idea that we are submissive dangerously and falsely assumes our consent is not necessary. The idea that we are submissive fuels the fires of toxic masculinity, so that if and when we do speak up, men react violently because it challenges their power. “This fetishisation erodes us of our humanity until we are nothing but an object that exists for someone else’s pleasure. It’s not always strangers; sometimes it’s even among people who know me. Years ago, a friend in college confessed to me, “I’m so jealous! You’re so lucky you’re Asian. It’s so trendy now and guys will line up to date you,” as if I was that season’s latest accessory or flavor of the week. At the time, I did not have the language to shape the anger I felt. Now I do…” (See our Facebook for the continued post)
“I’m tired of being the “sexy mamacita”. “Last year, I was awarded a full scholarship to study law, and moved to the UK to pursue a postgraduate degree. Last night, I went to a club with some friends. I love to dance and I wanted to have fun. But something happened, as usual: a guy approached me at the club and asked me to ‘twerk’ for him, as he ‘could tell’ that I am ‘not from here’ because of the way I looked and danced. In this moment, and in many moments since, I’ve felt like it doesn’t matter how hard I work or what I achieve, I will always be seen as the ‘sexy mamacita’. “As a woman from the Latin American/Caribbean region, I have experienced how social imageries portray me as a hyper-sexualized human being, not only because of my gender, but mostly because I come from a very ‘exotic’ and ‘hot’ place. This happens particularly in societies like the UK, where I am seen as the ‘sexy mamacita’ (‘mamacita’ is a Spanish word that can be understood as ‘fine or hot girl’). As a Latina, that boosts my perceived sexuality and characterises me as willing to please everybody around me. People assume that I want to have sex with them right away when they speak to me. Let’s not forget, the hyper-sexualization of Latin American and Caribbean women is a consequence of colonization and slavery, and nowadays, mainstream media still promotes this stereotype. “We, Latin American/Caribbean women, still have to deal with the lusty looks, the nasty phrases and even the uninvited physical touches whenever we say we come from one of these countries. “We also have to face discrimination in academic and professional circles. People are amazed to meet a Latinx with achievements and ambitions when they meet me. “Whenever people say to me ‘Oh, your English is so good for a non-native speaker!’ or ‘Wow! You are so smart and accomplished!’ because of my career up until now. I know most of the times, people mean good with these comments; they do not mean to offend me – but at the same time, these comments come from a general idea of denial, that Latinx and ‘brilliant’ or ‘accomplished’ do not come hand-in-hand…” (Check our Facebook page for the continued post)
“I’m tired of nearly 525 years of colonisation and injustice towards Native Americans. “History shows us that Imperialism, Eurocentric ideologies, religious agendas, and the exploitation of natural resources have been at work to systematically oppress Indigenous people of this land Cemanahuac (or, what Europeans call the Western Hemisphere) for centuries; and it continues to this very day – as highlighted by the recent injustices regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock and the lesser known exploitation of Yaqui ancestral lands in Mexico, also, by militarized corporations and bought government support. “From naming our Anahuac “America” after the Italian financier Amerigo Vespucci, to the eradication of indigenous culture in the name of “God”, and via assumptions of superiority such as the “Manifest Destiny” doctrine (the 19th Century belief that expansion of the US throughout the Americas, which led to the termination of millions of Native Americans, was justified); Indigenous people in this country, and around the world, continue to face tyranny on a daily basis. “There is a memory in my DNA; lies, theft, disease, displacement, forced assimilation, dishonorable treatment and massacre of my ancestors still haunt the disposition of who I am. At times I struggle to identify with Eduardo Gutierrez, the colonial name I was given, because only a very small percentage of my biological make-up is European; and yet it’s meaning, “guardian of the battle-sword”, somehow resonates with that small part of me. The land which was once the backdrop of my “Uza” predecessors’ nomadic endeavors, is now two countries; “Mexico”, the country I was born in, and “the United States of America”, the country whose imposed borders and immigration laws require me to have permission to be in- this too, feels unfair. I grew up in a world of English and Spanish, and have always felt my native tongue wants to express itself. My sweat, tears, blood, dreams, hopes and creations are the utterance of this longing…” (check our Facebook page for more)
“I’m tired of derogatory and violent words and actions against women. “I’m 44 years old, and I’m tired of derogatory and violent words and actions towards women. When I was 13, an unknown man jumped on me from behind while I was walking home from school. He knocked me to the ground and started pulling at my clothes. I kicked and hit, and he ran away without doing anything worse. They say putting up a fight is half the battle, and it was true in this case. “On two separate occasions men on the NYC subway have verbally hurled sexual threats at me (“You need a big dick to show you who’s boss,” they both said, as if they’d read the same memo). Another man outrightly threatened to rape me “with everyone on the subway watching.” I had barely said a word to these men. They attacked me simply because I was a woman. “Now our president-elect has boasted, “You have to treat them (meaning women) like shit.” Equally offensive: his “grab her by the pussy” bluster. He has called women slobs, dogs, pigs, and disgusting animals. This is not normal, it is not OK, it is not “locker room talk,” and it is a terrible example to our children. Let’s call it what it is: abuse on a grand scale. “Words are powerful. Violent words too often incite violent action. Derogatory words maintain unequal power dynamics. They disempower women and keep us under heel. They undermine our self- confidence and self-esteem. And, most insidiously, they steal our voices and silence us. “I dream of a world in which women are not singled out and targeted for this kind of abuse. I want little boys to grow up knowing how to value women, knowing the importance of treating and talking to us with respect. I want little girls to grow up knowing how to stand up for themselves, free from the internalized patriarchy that takes away their voices. I want to walk down the street and ride on the subway without the fear of sexual violence, and without fear of being targeted simply because I am a woman.” Photo credit: Robert Olsson Photo editing: Robert Olsson
“I’m tired of the stigma of HIV. “For years, I have had to watch and listen while uninformed, and misinformed people, talk about HIV. They remark about how these “promiscuous” and “dirty” people deserve what they get. In the best of circumstances, I have had to listen to people say how,“sad they were,” for the men and women living with HIV. After years of scientific study, some people still think that the virus can be transmitted through the air or by drinking from the same glass as someone who has it. “I have lost many friends to this disease. I hate that ignorance and stigma still surround HIV in a way that Cancer does not. I’ve lost both my long-time partner and mother to cancer. When they were in the hospital for treatments, or due to illness, they received compassionate care and support. But when my friends with HIV were in the hospital, while they received care, it wasn’t very compassionate. People with HIV are kept at arm’s length. People “get” cancer. HIV is still seen as a “punishment.” “I am a survivor. More than that; I am thriving. I have been successfully living with HIV for 20+ years. And although my viral load has been undetectable most of this time, I still have to deal with discrimination. I am lucky to have a supportive family and group of friends. But even they still sometimes live in fear of the disease. If I get the flu or a cold, they panic thinking that my immune system has collapsed. Sometimes it feels like they are just waiting for me to die rather than living a life with me. “Dating has also presented problems. I like to let people get to know me a little before I share my status. I would never become intimate with someone without telling them. Honesty is the only way for me. But I have faced rejection from the most diligent suitors once I reveal my HIV status. “I wish that you had told me before I developed feelings for you.” “I think that you’re amazing, but there is no way I could ever watch you die.” “I can’t deal with something so serious, so early on.” There are all kinds of responses and rejections. Even dating someone else who is HIV+ can be a problem. (Check out our Facebook for more)
“I’m tired of being “black” OR “woman”. “I love being black. I love being a woman. Most importantly, I love being a black woman. But I’m tired of one being ignored for the other. I’m tired of not really existing… “My identity is neither just “black”, nor just “woman”. My identity is a blackwoman. It isn’t enough to define me as one or the other. Historically, when we speak of black people, we’re speaking of black men. Aside from the inclusion of Rosa Parks, the school education system teaches us a very narrow, patriarchal depiction of black history. Furthermore when we speak of women, we’re speaking of white women. For example, the celebration of obtaining women’s right to vote was only applicable to white women, so as a black woman, that history does not apply to me. Black women have been, in some ways, omitted from discussion and therefore we have ceased to exist. Black women’s history has been marginalised, therefore my identity has also been a victim of marginalisation. “People believe that the issues we black women face regularly can be categorised into the issues of either black men or white women. They can’t. Black men aren’t regularly objectified in the media, so they don’t have the same struggle to reclaim their body from these sexualised and derogatory images. White women are not told to burn their scalp to chemically straighten their natural hair in order to be perceived as “acceptable”, “professional” and “beautiful”. “Stereotypes of black women conditioned the way I grew up. Despite being raised by a family that taught me nothing more than positivity, breaking away from that family structure and entering the wider world hit me like a brick wall and I was quickly taught my “place” in society. The lack of positive representation in the media and in toys taught me that I was unworthy. The strong black woman narrative forced me to believe for years that I was okay. I wasn’t. The “Angry Black Woman” stereotype made me afraid to talk. Do you know what it is to fear talking? The ugly black girl jokes that circulated during secondary school, well, they made me hate myself… To read more, visit www.facebook.com/theimtiredproject
“I’m tired of mourning my people” “Every day I feel like there is something new to mourn over. My eyes are puffy. My back aches. I am tired. My relatives, my family, and my people are constant targets of the police, colonial, societal, and systematic violence. “How can any wound heal if it is constantly being cut open? How can my community heal if we are constantly facing violence? How can I heal if I am constantly being targeted?Generational trauma as a result of systematic violence has affected my ancestors, my community, and myself. “The only way for me to move on, after mourning, is through self care. My movements forward, towards healing, have consisted of working with my community to do more than just survive. I want to honor my ancestors who very literally survived through torture in order to give me life. Not only do I want to heal, but I want to live. I want to thrive. “I am Black. I am Indigenous. Soy Latinx. I am two spirit. I am queer. Daka Taino. I am gender non-conforming. I am trans-masculine. I am a target. I am loved. I am worthy. I am supported. I am in community. I am surviving. I am living. I will heal by any means necessary.” Photo credit: Robert Olssen Photo editing: Robert Olssen
“I’m tired of young success intimidating men.” “I always thought being able to support myself would be attractive to men, because they would not have an obligation to take care of me; I would be a partner as opposed to an expense. Interestingly enough, they often seem to be more intimidated by my independence than impressed. “As a young girl, I was encouraged by my parents to set high goals for myself and work to achieve them. Their encouragement fostered an environment that allowed for my strong will and independence to grow. Throughout the years I began to thrive on the ability to take initiative and stand on my own. With this in mind, I don’t pursue men to have a protector, but to have a partner in life. This, however, is much harder to come by than I would expect. “Recently I was seeing a man for several weeks, who was successful in his own right. Our relationship was blossoming smoothly until one day I came home to find news I had been hired into a new position. With this position, I received a raise that would allot me an annual salary significantly higher than his. To my dismay, our relationship quickly changed. I found him avoiding discussing my new job and constantly harping on about his lack of success. By no surprise, the relationship quickly ended with a text message that read, “I really think we should just be friends. I’m still trying to be comfortable with me. I did have a lot of fun with you. I’m sorry.” “While being taken out on all expense paid evenings is enjoyable and much appreciated, I strive to be an equal partner. Why does my ability to afford an apartment in a more expensive area or buy a new car turn you off? Why does having a strong, independent woman on your side make you run as opposed to make you proud? Why must I NEED you, when in my eyes wanting you is so much more? Read more at www.facebook.com/theimtiredproject
“I’m tired of thinking in binaries. Why should I choose between either/or? Why can’t it be both/and? “We’re born into a world of dominant binaries and we learn to perpetuate it. We’re assigned one of two genders at birth but never told that we don’t have to identify with either. Even when we’re allowed to make choices, what are the options? Hero or villain? Vanilla or chocolate? Conservative or liberal? City or country? Capitalist or communist? “As someone who never identified with either “feminine” or “masculine”, every new day is full of reminders that I’m not like most. Nearly every object around us is categorized (and marketed) as either men’s or women’s, from clothing to office supplies, from colors to feelings. How are “feminine” and “masculine” supposed to help shape one’s identity when there’s so much social baggage loaded up on either? How are we ever to achieve true gender equality if we continue to assign these binary assigned-gender-based categories to ourselves and to our future generations? “I’ve read the theory and the history and know that this is simply how our human species likes to operate. Thinking in binaries have allowed some of us to become dominant while the rest of us become subordinate. It has allowed for concepts like a “dominant” race (white), gender (male), or species (human). It has allowed for hierarchies, for the “dominant” to always be “better than”, “stronger than”, “smarter than”. And it has allowed for our single-issue mentality, of thinking that we can only do one thing (job) well or that we can only fight in one area of social justice. This way of thinking has surely made our lives more comfortable: the simpler our worldview and our choices, the less we have to worry about what’s to come next (even what’s to come when we die: either heaven or hell). Yet denying the complexity of our personal identities and of our social relationships is precisely what’s led us to oppress one another, based on those arbitrary “better than” categories. This is why the fight for justice begins at the mirror… Read more at Facebook.com/theimtiredproject
“I’m tired of rape being permissible for the right celebrity. “Socializing primarily in feminist and social justice-y circles, I always hear the old mantra that, in cases of alleged abuse or rape, “you always believe the victim.” This holds true when the perpetrator, like Bill Cosby or Daniel Holtzclaw, is already disliked. But when we learn that someone we once admired (like Julian Assange or David Bowie or Mike Tyson or Sean Penn) committed unspeakable abuses, then it becomes so easy to ignore the victim and excuse the crime. “Again and again I see well-liked, charming, talented men receive “get out of jail free” cards from their adoring public after being accused of sexual assault. And, as a young woman living in a deeply unsafe world, it frightens me to know that if I am attacked by a man who is good-looking or influential or famous, his future will be deemed more valuable than my life. “I am tired of living in a rape culture that is so insidious, so deeply internalized in our society, that crimes are judged not by the facts, but by our own desire to conform experience to our biases. I am tired of being a buzzkill for bringing up the past abuses of beloved celebrities. I am tired of being asked to shut up so that you and your friends can listen to Ziggy Stardust in peace.” Photo credit: Robert Olsson Editing credit: Robert Olsson
“I’m tired of having to justify my Jewish identity. “I have had to defend my Jewish identity every time I miss school for High Holiday services. Every time I eat unleavened bread for Pesach. I constantly have to remind people that the Holocaust is still very much in the present of Jews worldwide. I am always seen as the “Jewish mother” in my circle of friends because I am a caretaker. “In Western culture, my Jewish identity means miserly penny pinchers (like Shylock), delicatessens, greed, and selfishness for a State that should be shared. “I do not see it as any of those things. “Jewish identity means celebrating Shabbat when I feel like it. It means speaking Hebrew with loved ones. It means a lineage of singing, praying and chanting. My Jewish identity is at its strongest when I am singing in my community. It is Avinu Malkeinu, it is welcoming the Sabbath bride, it is seeing the similarities between Shalom and Salaam and it is saying the Mourner’s Kaddish and feeling the arms of community surround me. “I see Jewish stereotypes as laying somewhat dormant, or unnoticed, in our society. I think that when friends refer to me or other friends as “Jewish Mothers” they don’t realize that that expression, despite well intentioned, can carry a weight that can be somewhat prickly for those on the receiving end. “I believe that the stereotypes about Jews having lots of money continue to permeate our society on a somewhat silent level (but that presence is still there). “I grew up having friends tell me they failed certain classes because they had to miss a certain number of days for Jewish Holidays. This tells me that our society is still slanted against Judaism (and other non-Christian religions) in a certain sense. “This isn’t to say that I believe that anti-semitism is rampant, but it definitely exists in pockets of our society. “After living in France, the Charlie Hebdo attacks really hit home for me, as a Jew and as a lover of French culture. There are lots of people who have certain fixed notions of what a Jew is, or what a Jew looks like (see FB for full post) #theimtiredproject #photography #stereotypes #assumptions #discrimination #race #ethnicity #jewish
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