The Power of the Insignificant Story

"Gender roles and the influence of pornography in today’s western culture: A personal investigation of the female gender’s role"

Creating the Zine: The power of the insignificant story

As part of my investigation on gender role expectations and sexuality in today’s western civilization as well as my personal experiences and observations on gender inequality I decided to create an original visual piece documenting as dairy entries a handful of personal experiences, deemed insignificant by society, all of which had some impact on my understanding of my place in the world one way or another. These diary entries were complimented with a series of self portrait photo shoots and illustrations to visualize parts of the experiences I was describing in the written pieces. The title of my zine came quite naturally, “The power of the insignificant story”, inspired by a talk given by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Adichie, 2009).

 

Choosing the form

At first I was indecisive of the form of my visual piece; I was in between creating a book, a magazine or a zine. A book seemed like a good idea at first because my initial idea was to tell a story through my experiences. Then I contemplated the form of a magazine because it felt a bit more modern. But in the end the zine turned out to be the best idea because as a kid, unknowingly, I used to create zine-type booklets for my own personal satisfaction filled with my own content so it felt right to place all these personal stories in a form that was created in a very personal way with a personal history as well. Bookshops with a wide variety of good quality books, magazines, zines and publications, art galleries, art exhibitions and websites/blogs could be respectable accommodating points for my zine and where I would intend for it to appear.

 

Section Titles

The zine is sectioned into five different stories, each titled with a single word that stands out the most from every diary entry. In order, the titles of the stories are: porn, boobs, cosmopolitan, hair and pop. Each of these titles gives a quick description of the content of the written pieces: “porn” is about experiencing for the first time what pornography was as translated from a young boy’s point of view and how aggressive that incident felt; “boobs” describes the start of becoming aware of your body parts in a way that transmutes into your belief in your overall worth as a person; “cosmopolitan” depicts how on the other hand being feminine also degrades your worth and intelligence; “hair” illustrates the propaganda of how the natural state of the female body being hairy in all the places that it normally would be is depicted as ugly and wrong; and last is “pop” to describe how the popular music culture scene has helped to preserve the image of the over-sexualized, belittled and fragile female in the past decade and how now it’s turning this image into feminism.

Setting the Tone

I’ve come to realize that trying to talk about themes like gender inequality, feminism, women’s rights, and so on makes people feel very uncomfortable most of the time for one reason or another and that in itself is something that I would definitely like to see change. For that reason I decided to place all these serious issues in a more light, bubbly and not-so-serious environment by choosing fun fonts for my cover title, diary entry titles and page numbering even though my visual piece would be a serious comment on my feelings on gender inequality and how I’ve experienced it on a personal level. I could imagine this zine of personal memories and thoughts to be an open conversation about the ways we can start to change ourselves and the upbringing of future generations for the better good: for a more equal, thoughtful and intellectual future. Only by just realizing how incidents that we have been taught to view as insignificant are actually sending an incorrect message out to young people is a good enough start for (r)evolution.

 

Shooting the photographs

When I was planning the content of my zine in the beginning of the year I was picturing the photography of my self portraits in totally different environments – outdoors, either in nature, woods, seaside, mountains, or such, or in more urban landscapes. In order to shoot outside, however, and in many instances with minimal clothing, I would have to be lucky enough for winter to have fairly good weather conditions with plenty of sunshine along with minimum wind and rain. Moreover, having at least one person to accompany me for safety reasons was the ideal for the type of circumstances I would be creating my self-portraits in. I soon realized that none of these factors would be available to me so I had to reconsider the spaces I would be photographing myself in. Having explored my university building quite a bit in the past I knew that it could serve me well for creating my portrait series, especially since it is a building that accommodates a lot of the creative courses which means a diversity of interesting spaces and rooms. Remarkably enough I was quite pleased with the outcome of most of the shootings, the spaces worked well with my themes and the lighting created a strong mood. The shooting I was the least satisfied with was the “cosmopolitan” one because the space didn’t allow for many different angles to shoot from, something that was unfortunately quite limiting. Otherwise, I was really pleased with the depth and lighting of the specific shooting.