The project is a research and creative endeavour through which I have investigated gender violence in Puerto Rico. This has been an opportunity full of conversations, through these I have deepened my understanding of the world, gender expressions and cultural sexuality, in turn challenging my thought process. As I engaged and shared concepts and ideas with others I found that many had already come across the questions of ‘how to build a better world?’, and some had even come to create theories of the paths that could lead towards these solutions. This was what I was (and still am) most interested in.
This project made me reflect much on what in means to be a woman and what it means to be a queer individual, specifically how my feminitiy and the feminine expression of my sexuality is percieved and scrutinized by society. Gender violence is thought to be this very clear depiction of physical harm towards women, when in reality gender violence is much more ingrained into our expressions and interpersonal relationships than what we believe it to be. Being in conversation with so many amazing individuals that were thinking about gender beyond the binary, and beyond the negative made me start an internal conversation with myself about those aspects of my own gender expression. How do I make sure I do the work everyday to deconstruct traditional gender structures that bound me? While I still do not have an answer (and I suspect I might never fully have one), I am glad I was introduced to the question.
While I knew that the systemic norms of gender played a huge role in my project even before I had begun it was still difficult to engage with. Because it is a systemic issue, because it has been the same way for so long, it starts to feel like there is no other way. However, it was through the ways I was informed of other possibilities in conversation and research that I was able to see beyond the “now” and into a different perspective. Understanding it’s stoicness was also important for me to see, it helped me understand how difficult it might be for some to let go of the structure especially when that structure is all they have ever known.
In one interview/conversation (which I video recorded) with a professor from the University of Puerto Rico, I was impacted with the verbal deconstruction of traditional masculinity. In this conversation we shared ideas of where gender violence stems from, how it is constantly promoted in our society to see it as the norm, and what could be alternative to these ways. In just one conversation so much can happen, so much can be learned from each other, and that is probably one of the biggest takeaways from this experience: to make space to learn from each other.
This is a project I intend on continuing work on, with the hopes of reaching people and enabling change.