Reflection 24 x 36 Oils on Canvas

Reflection 24 x 36 Oils on Canvas by Jennie Rosenbaum

I read Hazel Dooney’s blog somewhat religiously, it’s inspiring to read the thoughts of such a successful young female artist – especially one I have quite a bit in common with. She recently wrote a fascinating post about victimization amongst female artists which really touched a chord in me.

At different times in my life, I have been a victim. I’m not talking about when I was young, when I didn’t have much control over my life. I’m talking about when I was older, when I realised I was allowing myself too often to be cast as one.

At first, I just didn’t know how not to be. I was naive so I was sometimes exploited. I didn’t always have guidance when I needed it most. When I was in my early teens, I was groomed by predatory, older males, including one of my school teachers. By the time I was in my early twenties, it was a habit formed not just by experience and a lack of knowledge and self-awareness but also an insidious, almost Pavlovian process of response and reward. That is to say, I was rewarded for being a victim.
Stand Up, Artist

I have been frequently cast as a victim. sometimes I’ve let others do it, but I think the worst is when I cast myself in the role. being a victim is easy- a surrender, a way of giving up. and lately I’ve been pretty close to doing that. it’s a way to step back and not take ownership for your life, your mistakes or your problems. it’s a way to not deal – like hiding under the covers. and sometimes I want to do that so much! but apathy is just a slow death, one filled with regrets. Other times I’ve let other people lead me, accepting their word and their realities rather than my own. taking their validation as gospel and letting them make the tough choices or to take the actions. and when they thought of me as their victim, I became their victim and allowed them the keys to hurt me.

some wierdo posted a long rambly comment at the end of Hazel’s post – Probably could have written more too, but I realized when I saw the final length that I really should have put it here instead.

I think it’s very easy to surrender to being a victim. it’s harder to rise above it all and gain strength from it. sometimes it seems that the best thing in the world to do would be to just give in, to play upon the nature of our sex and to allow others to take charge over us. we do it by seeking approval, letting our choices and our voices be lost. it’s something that I have to remain vigilant against – it’s just too easy to let go.

I think it’s especially easy for artists, we put our lives out there, our traumas and our deepest secrets and it’s so easy to want to use that. after all, it’s a great way to work through issues but it can segue into putting those issues out there for the highest bidder and gaining validation that way – rather than through the accomplishment of the work itself.

some people say that I’m a control freak – and I’m sure they say that to you as well, but there is nothing wrong with owning your own life, your decisions and your actions – and even your pains and traumas and issues. I wish I could remember that all the time, it’s something I need to work on.

And I stand by that still – I do need to work on it. and I will.

2 thoughts on “Victimization

  1. Firstly, I don’t buy into the whole, “because I am an artist I need to put my entire emotional life on broadcast” schtick. If you want to be a victim, there’s an easy path to it. I am betting that vastly in excess of 99.9% of people I come in contact have no clue what my emotional state at any given time is. That has no impact on my artistic endeavors whatsoever.

    My view is that shit happens to everyone, and you can use it as an excuse, or you can use it to drive you on to be a more complete person. I have no interest in boring people about my past “traumas”. It’s the past. It’s part of who I am. The only thing that matters is the future, and who I want to be.

    I know that on dA I have removed people from my watchlist because they insist on updating all and sundry “bitpeople” with the ongoing saga of their life. That’s lovely for them, but I put them on watch because I like what they create.

    My real world friends know the lengths I go to to help people out. At this point of my life, I pretty much don’t bother with helping anyone who isn’t prepared to help themselves. It may seem cynical or overly harsh to some, but I would far rather assist someone who does stuff in spite of their problems instead of using it as some form of emotional blackmail to get me to do what they aren’t even prepared to lift a finger to do what they can.

    Secondly, the best way to be a victim is to act like one. It’s dead simple. It’s as easy as, when walking in a bad district, making sure it looks like you’re on a mission and you know exactly where you’re going, and where you’re going is just up the street, even if you’re hopelessly lost and clueless. I know from personal experience that it works in South central LA during the race riots following the Rodney King beating, the seediest parts of Newark and on Bourbon St when alcohol fueled fools are trying to run rampant. It’s often an act to appear confident, but oft-times you wind up actually believing your own act, and you become confident.

  2. I definitely agree that confidence it viral! the best way to gain it is to pretend you had it all along – it’s something I’ve been working on a lot lately. I used to loathe the idea of being perceived as a victim in any way so I went to great pains to hide it – even when I did feel it inside. somewhere along the line I lost that, and my confidence and I’m trying to gain it back again.

    However, I don’t create emotive art exploring my various pains because I’m an artist. I don’t put my psychological messes up there for the highest bidder and I certainly don’t think of them as commercial – but my works frequently explore my issues because thats what comes out when I paint. I don’t paint for others, I always paint for myself first and it actually helps when I get something out there – it’s therapy. my most psychological works are never for sale because I hate the idea of putting my pain on sale. plus they are a symbol to me of what I can achieve with my art. I paint my joys as well as my traumas, all the highs and lows are there- it may not always be apparent, but every work has a meaning to me.

    I write about my feelings and my works here as a record. not just to show people who I am and what I do, so that they know bout my art and me as an artist, but also for my own memory. it’s wonderful to go back over posts and find out what I was thinking when I created certain works. it helps to have it all out there.

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