It’s International Women’s Day.
A day of community activity, celebration, sharing, remembering, but also introspection.
For while we commemorate women of all types and from all social and biologically complex horizons, we can’t just “leave the men behind”.
Although it is easy to objectify whole swathes of the human population, stereotyping groups into a convenient box, and as this is the vocabulary most usually available to us as short hand, we are bound to do just that.
However, it’s not impossible to try on different practices for size (pun intended). We can, for example, bring acute awareness today to the prison that the patriarchal binary system creates, even for men.
Women need men to interrogate masculinity, its assumptions, its limitations, its insane hold on many of our institutions and behavioural models.
Meet Kenneth Bamberg . This Finnish artist is particularly interested in rites of masculinity, challenging men to think about male-hood.
Bamberg photographs men, young and old, in the wake of certain rites of passage or ritual markers that work as signifiers, albeit ambiguous ones, around the categories of masculinity.
Here for example is a young boy, beautifully gowned, made up and be-flowered in honour and replication of the Prince Siddhartha before becoming Buddha.
More stunning photos can be seen in Bambergs portfolio.
The floral crown, in many places around the western world, usually associated with youthful maidens, can be found in asian traditions as a vehicle of other tropes.
And here, certainly a startling and unexpectedly touching tribute to the male sexual organ: a modern Finnish reinterpretation of the penile sheath of indigenous tribes of Polynesia, Africa and South America.
The intimate link with Nature is again invoked: the portraits are made outdoors.
If you have the time to learn more about this extraordinary artistic challenge visit the artist’s website by clicking on the blue links.
But I would like to invite you to take a few minutes to listen to what some of the men who created their own penile sheaths were up against. Interviews can be seen in the following clip. A real must see. These men give DIY new meaning.
Oh and of course, Happy International Women’s day.