Muen Grace Zhou

Wounded Steps

Class of: 2027

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Mixed Media: Photography, Paper-Mache, Painting

Faculty: Gigi Polo

Prompt: Based on Dunne and Raby Critical Design and Carl DiSalvo Adversarial Design, students will work in pairs to create an artifact that reflects their partner’s social identities in public spheres; the final artifact will challenge the current discourse of social issues connected to their partner’s experience. In Seminar, partners interview one another in order to tap into personal experiences/struggles and social identities to then make connections to larger social issues.

Inspired by interviews with my partner, this wearable piece reflects on the persistent issue of gender discrimination and the tragic consequences of it. This piece includes two parts: one made with manipulated printed photos, and the other done with paper-mache and paints. The form of the first necklace is inspired by traditional Indian wedding money necklaces. Instead of cash, I used printed pictures that showcase various forms of gender discrimination. Some photos are my own, others taken from the internet. The series of photos include tangible demonstrations of sexism: beauty standards of patriarchal society that have been torturing women, tedious tasks that are automatically put on women in sexist societies, abandoned female babies in China, an Indian slogan calling for parents to send their daughters to school, and gentlemanly behaviors that are considered “benevolent sexism”. The other part is a lei made with paper-mache flowers. It was inspired by how Tanvi’s cousin wore a lei instead of a money necklace at his wedding. The lei is a physical representation of changes towards gender equality. I painted bruises and veins on the flowers to recognize the hurt and pain that are caused by gender discrimination and positive changes. Gender discrimination has destroyed generations of women, taking away their freedom, potential, purpose, dreams and hope. As changes take place, older generations struggle with adapting to new values and social structures. It is devastating a lot of older women who were brought up with sexist ideas discriminate against their own gender. They are victims all around. Their pain and hurt deserve to be recognized. Changes need to happen and are bound to happen, but there is inevitable pain connected to changes. Therefore, every step that our society took and takes today towards gender equality are based on the blood and tears of women.