"When I was a child, my parents often told me things like, “Girls don’t wear wrinkled clothes” or “Don’t climb trees, you’re a girl”. I never questioned these rules until I became an adult. Throughout my life, my relatives have told me that I’m not very feminine and that this is the reason for all of my problems. I have always engaged in arguments around this issue, but eventually decided to google how to become more feminine.
I found a lot of courses in Russia offering practices that teach women special ways of interacting with the world: how to collect feminine energy, follow the moon calendar, «breathe» with your womb, find a goddess inside yourself and change reality around you. I started to visit femininity teachers to see if I could understand what femininity is and if it could help me. «When a woman becomes feminine she can get everything she needs only by thinking about it. Every woman can have this power. You can also have it if you want. The only thing you need is to accept who you are and learn how to raise your feminine energy» were some of the mantras told to me by over fifty female coaches I met over the course of nearly one year in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Many teachers offered me an experience of femininity through bodily senses and emotions, which also formed part of their theory: femininity can’t be explained, it can only be felt.
On the one hand, this experience became a way to think about the position of women in contemporary Russia. In places where rights for men and women are still not equal, the interpretation of gender stereotypes into a form of irrational power could provide possibilities for women to gain control over their lives. On the other hand, this project became an investigation into the connection between our desire to believe in magic, irrational powers and a means to reach happiness by effortlessly fulfilling our wishes.
The project consists of several types of documentation. There are portraits of different coaches whom I asked about femininity, some text records of their stories and a video projection that documents the feminine energy practices they offered me. The final part of the project is a site-specific video performance: I appear on television and share my “newfound feminine energy” with everyone who wants to receive it, following the theory that every woman gains magic powers as soon as she accepts her true self.