I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a woman. I cannot deny that being a female has certain impacts on the relationship I have with people around me, and on how I was perceived by society. I was taught since I was a young girl that the most honorable thing a woman can do is to become the perfect wife. The wife who goes to bed after her husband to makes sure all the chores are finished, and the wife who wakes up before her husband to make sure that everything he needs is ready for him. The wife who behaves well, who brings honor to the family. The wife who is excellent at all crafting, cooking, and cleaning jobs, but also great at out-of-the-house jobs (to help with income.) The wife who listens to her husband and does not speak of anything that may bother him or any other man. The wife who trusts him with all the decisions and does not question his action.
…the wife that I decided not to be.
Working in the field of architecture makes the issues of women’s expectations and how society sees us even more apparent. Denying it all you want, but architecture is just like many science fields, it is still white-male dominant. I was a leader of an architecture student group; students selected me because they know that I qualified. However, the validity of my knowledge always comes into question when I meet with clients. I found that people sometimes ignored my input, but then they would listen to another student even though that person was simply repeating my answer. Maybe it is just in my head, maybe I am crazy, maybe I am too young for the job, maybe it is the way I dress, it might also be my race, or gender, or all of the above. I can never know.
Similar issues have been happening worldwide from the scale of a household to the world political stage and it makes me wonder why women’s voices are not heard. Is it because we speak too low? Is it because we were too nice when speaking? Is it because we don’t know how to speak? Is it because they did not let us speak? Or is it because they choose to ignore us?
Personally, I think the biggest problem is when they choose to ignore us. The receiver has the most power. No matter how much you try to send out the message, if the other person refuses to take it, they would never get it.
This “Habitat#7: Silence” painting was part of the Habitat painting series that I created in 2012. All the paintings in the series were influenced by my involvement with humanitarian architecture. This painting was also published in the 2013 IVORY TOWER magazine.
by Beau Sinchai