My southern hemisphere has been giving me pause for months now, of the lower-intestinal distress nature. But, that is another, even more disgusting story than I usually share.
So. I asked for clarification about the art project proposed for women who have experienced domestic abuse. This is only my opinion, but were I asked to participate under the process that has been set up, I would feel potentially exploited, absolutely traumatized and re-traumatized and I would probably say something along the thoughts of that I would think about it. Then, I would procrastinate, be passively non-committal and not do it. And, all during the process, and afterwards, I would feel badly about myself. For feeling icky about being part of it, for not being able to pull my big girl panties and just do it, and for feeling as though I was not the only person I let down by not doing it.
I received the answers I needed and replied with my withdrawal from the project. It will be awkward seeing that person at work. I can live with that. I did my best to be supportive of the desires to provided this.
Given what I knew last week, I had made this decision then, just wanting to wait and see what the registration materials were going to be like. Even though the person who designed the project has many good ideas, she had shared enough of it to help me understand that I could not be part of it. I felt that I owed both of us to have all of the facts in print before quitting. I was simply waiting for that confirmation before sending the quitting e-mail to her. I understand that everyone is very busy and that e-mailing is the default communication. I wish that I could have had this last conversation about the project in person. Just saying.
So, I was ready with my reply. There was one shock when I read her reply to my questions. It seems that the women who participate, nearly all of whom have no art or crafting experience, and for whom this is a new and interesting process, have two choices in participating.
The first is that if their art sells they can give the sale price to the shelter as a donation.
Their second choice is to not offer the art for sale.
There is no option for selling their work and keeping the money for themselves. These are women who have practically nothing, and they are asked to put themselves and their experiences out to be seen and judged by strangers without any benefit to themselves.
Disgusting. Foul. Despicable. Horrible.
I am just guessing, but the original plan had the exhibit held in a bar/restaurant, with at least 70% of the space devoted to the bar. At night.
Many of our women are still cautious and afraid of being out after dark, even when escorted by someone they trust, and there was not any accommodation being offered for the artists to have safe transportation. Not to mention the alcohol. Most of our women are either in recovery, struggling to stay in recovery or longing for recovery from their substance issues.
It was only after a fairly emotional conversation (mostly on my part) that the venue was changed to a regular art gallery. But, it is still at night and those who attend to view the art are allowed to bring their own wine and beer. But, it was the best compromise I could negotiate.
But, even though my decision had already been made, the fact that this was clearly designed to be a fund raiser for the shelter defies everything that I think our shelter holds sacred.
If my withdrawal...allrighty, let us call it what it is...quitting the project causes problems for me, even it if makes things awkward, I might have to invite myself to quit working there. I do not want to do that. I have invested everything I have into that work, that job. I would be a little bit broken if I find that I must leave. I have already shared all of this with my immediate supervisor and she assures me that all I have to do is the right thing. So, I am. Or, I had already done that, but it was nice to hear here say that.
This stuff is hard. Back in that other life all of my decisions were trying to do the right things for the right reasons whilst trying to stay unhurt. That danger is gone and I am left to be a big girl in all of this, and having to be able to present myself. Understanding how I feel is one thing, defending it is something entirely different.
I hope I was able to do that today.