From women on birth control being publicly referred to as “sluts,” to Michigan representative Lisa Brown being silenced on the House floor after referencing her vagina during an abortion debate, I think it’s safe to say the 2012 election season has been confusing, if not downright disturbing, for many women (and like-minded men).
Yet, while comment boxes across the internet are blowing up about these issues and everyone tries to toss in their two cents on the present and future role of women in our country, Laura Burhenn (front woman of the band the Mynabirds) has created a new project that takes a positive, hands-on approach to combating all of the negativity throughout the media.
The New Revolutionists is a portrait project started by Laura in conjunction with the release of the band's sophomore album, GENERALS. Burhenn describes the project as “a yearbook of sorts that serves as a resource for a generation of new women, who can realize their own power by seeing it in the faces of other women.”
The portraits are inspired by Native American and soldier portraits as well as iconic portraits of notable women in history who all look directly into the camera with “clear vision” and strength. Burhenn wanted to convey what “true revolutionary American women look like,” noting that “women who stand up to injustice are rarely pristine; they get their hands dirty.”
Despite the negative examples we often see in the media, there’s no doubt we all know strong and inspirational women. And while the more controversial or extreme representations may be getting the most coverage, Burhenn’s project reminds us of the importance of the seemingly small revolutions that can make a difference. Laura writes, "Revolution can start small, in a kind neighborly gesture, in a mother or friend’s love, in community organization, in a national or worldwide crusade to end poverty and inequality. But often the truest revolutionaries are the ones who live quiet lives of bravery."
According to Burhenn, the purpose of the project is “to pay tribute to the vast web of women who do various types of important work: artists, community organizers, doctors, mothers, women who embrace their lives and work to help and empower those around them. The women are chosen through a nominative process, and once a woman is featured she then nominates other women to be included based on whomever she defines as “true revolutionaries.” This was a purposeful approach for Laura, who states that “sometimes we don't think we have the strength to endure our battles. But knowing that someone else in our lives thinks we do -- that can be the most empowering thing ever.” The project was also the ultimate ‘thank you’ to Laura's own mother, “who has yet to sit for her portrait.”
The project is an on-going one and will run throughout 2012. The site’s bio explains that “in an election year when so much time, energy and money will be spent on political contests, this project aims to shine a light on women making a difference-often on shoestring or nonexistent budgets-in their own communities all over America, despite the powers that be.”
In a time as crucial as this one, Laura's project not only shows us how the small things really can make a difference, but also reminds us we aren’t alone. Her project not only doles out some much-deserved recognition to some truly inspiring ladies, it also reminds us that there are people out there who are creating new, positive narratives just by the way they live their lives. Laura says it best when she notes that, “above all, this project is a reminder of the strength, beauty, and power in ourselves and in the women all around us.”
Images courtesy of thenewrevolutionists.org