A photo project by Karmenife Paulino and Tess Altman
Reclamation is a photo project seeking to reclaim fraternity spaces, ones that have been marked as dangerous for certain members of the Wesleyan community, through a reversal of both role and gaze.
Settings include Psi Upsilon, Beta Theta Pi, Delta Kappa Epsilon and The Eclectic Society, as these institutions create space on campus for sexual, racial and gendered violence to occur and fester. “Frat boy” models can be found in submissive positions to gesturally mimic how women and other marginalized voices are often treated behind these walls. Karmenife is clad in dominatrix gear to signify a certain power and ownership of her sexuality and positioning, as women who exercise power and confidence in their sexuality are routinely demonized both within and outside of the fraternity [i.e. if she is sexually assaulted, it is quickly deemed that she had been “asking for it"]. In this photographic endeavor, we hope to open up a line of discussion, of healing, of rigorous and generative critique.
We are well aware of how members of the fraternity community might react to these pictures. We know that they will be angry. We know that they will band together and voice their dismay; that they will rage over images that threaten the way their masculinity and position is perceived. But that gets at the very point we wish to make: to show them that the emotion, the determination, the power to make change is there, but that they simply continue to misplace their feelings and concern. We garner this reaction to ask: Why can’t we see that same passion and rage at what is happening within your house walls? Why don’t we see this anger when another one of your brothers has been accused of assault? Why do we see this strong motivation to act over a few pictures we took with consenting adults, when we see you delivering nothing but inaction, and in some cases even encouragement, to people objectifying and harassing women? We see so much passion and anger when you get your feelings hurt but nothing but denial and inaction when women are being raped in your house.