Saturday, August 14, 2010

An Emotional Response to Graphic Violence


As Chief Grand Free Web Services Thingy Finder Person for the Adoptee Rights Demonstration (I used to be just Chief Free Web Services Thingy Finder Person but I gave myself a title upgrade this year), part of my volunteer duties involves finding free web services thingies. For the protest, you know, in case you couldn't tell.


Last year for Philly, we wanted to put together a slideshow promo, and came up with the DENIED video that was easier than stealing identities from children. The idea behind the DENIED video was to get people to put forth the faces of normal, every day adults who through no self-selected behavior on their part, are denied equal treatment under law. The DENIED stamp was ugly and scaring, yet effective.


Let’s look back!













After the video, some mothers wanted their faces stamped too, something that could be used to show both solidarity as well as make a statement against something that was imposed on them without their consent. Some ideas were batted around. My personal favorite, the digital erasing of mother’s faces, was voted out in favor of a stamp that  followed the same theme - simply stamping CONFIDENTIAL.


Over the past two protests I’ve stamped face 



after face 




after face 

after face 



after face.



While the actual act of stamping is quite easy, the emotional effect isn’t as straight forward.



Obscuring someone’s image with a glaring red stamp can be draining when done mindfully of the great malice aforethought.


Because is it not malice, pure malicious maliciousness in all it’s glory, to impose confidentiality on someone without their permission, desire or consent, and then use that same person to justify and blame sealed records on? What could be more malicious than telling another adult human being that they are not entitled to their own identity, rationalize  their identity theft by the possible reproductive choices of future women, willfully and while all the time making quite the profit


If that’s not malice, I don’t know what the fuck is.



Don’t ever doubt that the sealed and stolen identities of the DENIED, or the unwanted CONFIDENTIALITY inflicted on American mothers, is nothing less than a graphic act of political violence.


The audacity, arrogance and presumptuousness  of those who oppose restoring access and then turn and hide behind the skirts of the same women they profited off of when they were paid a legal fee to seal their children’s identities is mind-boggling.


Frankly, it makes me quite cranky.


I’m actually writing this blog post halfway through the stamping of a mother I adore, and obscuring her face made me break down and cry. The adoptee images make me angry, but the ones from the mothers eat at me. Especially when they send me pictures of themselves before they got pregnant. I see young women about to be exploited and used by a system run by those with full knowledge of what they were about to do to them.




It’s a long road to the San Antonio protest, and the wrapping up of Louisville will take weeks if not months. While the administrivia takes place in the background, internet memes like the DENIED photos keep the protest alive in the ever-brief attention span of the web.




Take a peek or two or three at the DENIED album over on Facebook, and if you’d like your photo included please send a picture to AdopteeRightsCoalition@gmail.com.   

Also, while doing an export from the old fan page to the new one, some images got lost. If your photo isn’t included, just give a yell. As my solemnly sworn responsibility to do free web services thingies, I’d never deny you the chance to be DENIED.

4 complaints from ingrates:

Sandy Young August 14, 2010 at 10:19 PM  

I was surprised at my reaction to the picture, first the one without the stamp on the face, which made me sad seeing the young me, hopeful, optimistic and blissfully unaware of what was going to happen. Then, the one with the stamp across my face made me pale. It was the stamp, like a red, angry slap across my face!

Thanks for this post, and for caring about us mothers. We stumble along, trying to do the right things, but sometimes it is just so hard....!

Ungrateful Little Bastard August 15, 2010 at 7:25 AM  

Yeah, the stamp is a scaring thing. It works on a gut level and shows an administrative coldness and the dehumanization of those the law shuts up. It says - you are not worthy of equal treatment, or you are not worthy of a voice.

Behind each DENIED or CONFIDENTIAL stamp is someone silenced, minimized and dismissed. There's not a single stamped face that doesn't hold a story of being treated with contempt, and being used to generate a financial profit.

Robin August 15, 2010 at 9:38 AM  

I am searching, desperately, for a photo of my younger self. My sister has them all in my mother's cedar chest, I think. If I can't find one, I will send one more recent to be stamped. We mothers are finding our way, as Sandy says. Some of this sticks in my throat like a fishbone and it brings blood.

Ungrateful Little Bastard August 15, 2010 at 10:19 PM  

Yes it does. For me it's also a challenge statement in a way. To have all those faces together with those ugly red stamps (I hope) is jarring and unsettling to someone not familiar with the subject.

It's a real act of courage for some people to be "out" about their adoption on Facebook when they have both adoptionville and real life friends on their profile. I've been witness to some very disturbing and interesting conversations when someone changes their profile picture. In the end, it lets you know who your real "friends" are.

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