Let’s play a game. Imagine your body is a map, a colonized territory from the moment of your birth, dominated by ideas of what it means to be male or female. Picture how the female land comes with tremendous historical disadvantages simply for being what it is.
It doesn't matter whether your map includes islands, beaches, valleys, prairies, hills, or jungles, or if it’s as extensive as a continent or as elongated as a mountain range. You were born into a set rulebook; the maps around you made sure you knew what you were allowed to do, the territories you’re permitted to make treaties with, as well as your border delimitations.
You soon learned that each area of your map has different meanings, some more obvious than others. There are regions that are off-limits and others that can be shown. There are pastures that you’ll need to prune and trim for your female territory to be respected and well-regarded by others. There are geographic codes and guidelines set in place that you'll need to follow.
Let’s say you learn the rules. You follow them. But one day you realize your ideas can be like well-trained soldiers that will choose to protect your ports. Then, they will show you a new kind of geography. You’ll see how colonies can separate and become independent nations.
Your army of ideas is capable of using several techniques and armor to defend you when the fight begins. They’ll then begin the battle of questioning, relearning, and reassigning meaning to each part, so that one day they’ll modify all of your cells. Picture how, along with this army, there's a guild of artisans waiting to rebuild after the war is won. They’ll turn you into a land that breathes, that has a voice, expressions, a look, and a smile. You're a land ready for experimentation.
Imagine how bodies can be retraced and surveyed to create a new kind of cartography. How this can lead to the birth of new behaviors. How there’s not a single way to decolonize our thoughts.
In these female territorial colonies there's one area that has become clandestine and forbidden, so much that it continues to be covered and hidden from the world. What if the map herself could teach you all the secrets you needed to discover her most beautiful spots.
The accompanying photographs belong to Berber Theunissen.
Translated by María Suárez