For our group documentary in capstone class for the photojournalism sequence, we decided to call it “On the Fringe”. The concept is something, or more specifically a subject, that is out of the ordinary, something that is unique and more uncommon than common.
I am sociology minor, so I have taken many sociology classes, but my gender sociology class really struck a chord for me. Gender roles fascinate me as does the concept of war and all it entails. What makes a man masculine and a woman feminine? These are constructed terms and concepts, as is the military and war. How do these harshly defined concepts of gender roles and military fit into each other? The military has been a long standing boys’ club from the beginning but how has it transformed to make way for women who want to be involved? We know females are not allowed to be in combat, so what questions does that raise? Does the military not view females to be as capable physically and/or mentally to fight in combat? It would seem if the military trains and treats all of its soldiers equally then females should be treated the same across the board with the same opportunities.
Ah, the word opportunity. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that males and females are treated differently in society, so what are the different opportunities that women are presented and limited to in the military simply because they are women? The subject I began working with (the one female below) told me in a pre-interview that she is pursuing a career in the military and has already earned high ranking and security clearance from the government, but for her, a female pursuing a career in the military, there is a “glass ceiling”. That alone, for her to already be aware of and express is fascinating to me. Unfortunately, this subject fell through and didn’t want to be photographed anymore after the first morning I photographed her at ROTC formation.
This past year, I started with this root concept of gender roles and wanted to find subjects and story ideas that would help express those roles. First I started with a student who is just starting his drag career. (to see the story, ‘Blending Gender Lines’ go to: allisonziemba.virb.com). The next idea for a story was to investigate and demonstrate gender roles within the military, especially by showcasing a female among a hyper-masculine organization. Here are a few images from the military idea: