Before you judge me, KNOW MY STORY: review by Joy Watson
‘Before You Judge Me, Know My Story’, is a participatory arts-based project, edited by Susann Huschke. The project entailed a collaboration with 14 sex workers and opened in Johannesburg in last week. ‘Before You Judge Me, Know My Story’ is an ethnographic study on the experiences, health practices and well-being of sex workers in Soweto. The sex workers involved in the project took pictures, created collages and wrote their stories, asking their audiences to listen to what they have to say about their lives, struggles and their reasons for selling sex. The stories and pictures give us a snapshot into the lives of these women, how they manage on a day-to-day basis, what is important to them and how they are claiming the writing of their own stories.
In the words of Chaniqua, a participant to the project, ‘We all want one thing, just to better ourselves and making ourselves be best we can be.’ This sentence sums it up really – the project is an unfolding of the stories of women who are trying to live the best kind of life that they can. Women who are working hard to live good lives and who take tremendous pride in what they have been able to provide and accomplish through their efforts.
Unsurprisingly, most of the stories of the women who participated are stories of unspeakable hardship and astute suffering, all brought about the socio-economic circumstances of structural oppression in South Africa. They illustrate how race, class and sex intersect to systemically disadvantage women.
[To read this post visit the Nasty Women blog: Before you judge me, KNOW MY STORY: review by Joy Watson]