Art of Woman

Life with Endometriosis



Endometriosis? What is THAT!!

Watch a YouTube video invitation to joint me and become part of “Life with Endometriosis”:
'Life with Endometriosis' invitation by Margaret Kalms (YouTube)

Life with Endometriosis - invitation YouTube by Margaret Kalms

Endometriosis is a debilitating and painful women’s reproductive disease. It is surprisingly common. It affects 10 - 15% of menstruating women. This rate is similar to women with breast cancer. While many people have heard about breast cancer, few have heard about endometriosis, even fewer understand the impact of endometriosis on women's lives.

There is still prejudice in talking about pelvic pain. Many people believe that menstrual pain is somehow normal! This results in delays in diagnosis that can extend pain and suffering unnecessarily. I decided to use my art, my photographic skills to challenge these ideas and prejudices, and to raise awareness of this insidious disease.

I’m dedicating an exhibition and an accompanying art book to this cause. "Life with Endometriosis", I call it. I imagine a gallery filled with art - several photos about each story from a dozen or so women and possibly including art created by some of the women. The accompanying book will be a lasting record of “Life with Endometriosis”.

Since August 2014, I have been meeting with women who live with endometriosis and have made recordings of their experiences. Progress with photography has been slower than I hoped because of delays and postponements due to ill health - which is all part of the endometriosis story. I am committed to this project. This will be a journey over many months, maybe years, as we visually explore the impacts of endometriosis on women’s lives.

I’m excited about the visual and photographic challenges this project will bring. It is a privilege to learn about other women’s lives and tell their stories.

Contact me: lifewithendo@artofwoman.com.au

Follow and Like - Facebook.com/lifewithendometriosis

By Any Means

The other evening (7 January 2014) I snuggled up with my husband and watched TV. We watched a BBC crime show, By Any Means. You can follow it on ABC iview here. The show follows a crime fighting team who chase ‘the bad guys’ and use techniques that are not strictly ‘proper procedure’ rather in the style of Hustle. So the team members are not strictly police, although, several are ex police — “it is a grey area” the team leader, Jack says (Jack Quinn played by Warren Brown).

By Any Means is a light crime show suitable for families. The dialog is full of banter and there is little violence, just a few punches. It is easy to follow and fun. It doesn’t become bogged down with the horror of crime, stays focused on catching the bad guys, a bit reminiscent of Charlie’s Angels.

There are plenty of Blogs on the web talking about the strategy, plot and believability of the show. I will not add to that noise. Instead, in theme with this site, I will discuss an incident during the first episode where women’s periods are mentioned.

Jack assumes that because he is team leader, he has the most sensible suggestions. While discussing the case, Jess (Jessica Jones played by Shelly Conn) expresses a desire to kill the criminal, Mason. It would be quick and simple, but killing is not an option. When she repeats her desire to kill the criminal, Jack questions Jess’s judgement by taking a cheep shot at her womanhood, by saying “time of the month?”

Alpha males have been known to try to dominate women by reminding women that they will never be men. The implication is that men are the rightful leaders — you are not a man, so stop trying to be my equal. For many men, being a woman is an insult. The comment “time of the month?” highlights Jess’s womanhood inappropriately. It is designed to be an insult by implying that women are unreliable because of their periods. The implication is that women are ruled by their hormones and become irritable or moody and lack rational thinking as a result. This is an easy way for men to disregard and trivialise what a woman says without actually dealing with the issues she raises.

In this case, all of the team want to get rid of the criminal Mason. Why was Jess’s desire to kill Mason singled out and treated as inappropriate? Tom Tom (Thomas Hawkins played by Andrew-Lee Potts) cringes. He doesn’t want to get involved in this conversation, which is a typical bystander response — or lack of response. Tom Tom could have said that the comment was sexist and irrelevant to Jess’s capacity to work, but he stayed silent.

Jess defended herself by rejecting Jack’s sexist assumption as an unsubstantiated myth. He throws pseudo science back at her. Then Jess does an amazing thing. She boldly expresses her joy, power and deep spirituality in being a woman stating clearly that Jack wouldn’t ‘get it’ because he is a man. This is the first time I have seen such a bold retort to this common sexist stereotype. She takes back her power by embracing womanhood and celebrating her vibrant experience in being a woman. It is a really good comeback, even though it came across as a bit corny. I praise By Any Means because it gives women some powerful words to defend themselves in this common sexist situation.

I am proud to be a woman too.

View a preview clip.

View By Any Means - Episode 1

Endometriosis Study

Do You Have Endometriosis?

A researcher I know, Maryam Moradi is doing a PhD studying how endometriosis affects women. She is inviting women with endometriosis to complete this newly developed questionnaire to measure the long term impact of this condition. The questions in the Endometriosis Impact Questionnaire (EIQ) have been developed based on 10 focus group discussions with 35 women with endometriosis. This study is being conducted by researchers through the Australian National University (ANU) and Canberra Endometriosis Centre.

Please invite anyone you know who has endometriosis to participate. You may place the attached Information sheet on your websites, Facebook and anywhere else you think is appropriate. Data collection for the project will close on 28 March 2014.

I encourage women with endometriosis to support this study, https://apollo.anu.edu.au/default.asp?pid=7700. Contact Maryam Moradi 0403 679 650 or email her at: maryam.moradi.fu@gmail.com

See information page and flyer,
Endometriosis Study Moradi ANU

Monthlies Campaign

20121106120118-indiegogo-ovulo-with-text
What is menstruation? What changes in a girl’s life when ''it'' first arrives? Monthlies is a fresh film exploring the period with humour and sensitivity.

See a promotional clip of
MONTHLIES

This is an exciting new film being produced. It is an educational animation designed to teach pre-pubescent girls about menstruation in a positive way. I can see this film helping millions of women all around the world. I fully support comprehensive and positive sex and reproductive education. This film will generate discussion about intimate health issues potentially saving many lives and averting suffering. Many adult women received negative messages about menstruation when they were growing up. This film will be healing for adult women too.

Today I donated to the production costs through crowd funding, Indiegogo. I am proud to support intimate woman's health and girls' reproductive health education. I love the concept of positive period awareness that overcomes yuck factor attitudes to menstruation. Congratulations, great work!

IGAD - International Gynaecological Awareness Day

I’m so excited to announce the inaugural celebration of IGAD (International Gynaecological Awareness Day) in Canberra!! This is a day to build awareness of women’s intimate health.

There is still embarrassment and reluctance by many people to frankly discuss diseases and problems with our sexual organs, even with health professionals. Some women find that problems with their vulva or periods are not investigated thoroughly because they are not visible. Some women suffer for years in silence as a result.

SHFPACT (Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT) are hosting an event celebrating women’s intimate health. Tim Bavinton, the executive director was so impressed with my art, he suggested that I exhibit my work in the SHFACT Training Room as part of the IGAD celebrations. This is a great honour.

IGAD will be opened by Professor Frank Bowden at 7:30pm, 10th September and the exhibition will run from 12-23rd September. Prof Bowden is the professor of medicine at ANU and has recently published a book, Gone Viral -The Germs That Share Our Lives.

My art photos will be for sale as signed limited edition (25) prints, on archival rag paper. When I exhibited at PhotoAccess last year, I donated to endometriosis research and this year when I exhibited in Sydney in March, I donated to UN women Australia. During this exhibition at SHFPACT, I will donate 5% of sales to SHFPACT and 5% to endometriosis research.

International Gynaecological Awareness Day, a day to realise how intricately and wonderfully God made women - and God made all parts of women good.

Download the invitation.

Anatomy For Beginners - SBS

On Tuesday evening 18 May, I watched a programme on SBS TV, “Anatomy For Beginners”.

This has been a fascinating series of documentaries showing how our bodies work by dissecting plasticised cadavers and by skilled painting on live nude models. Presented by pathologist Professor John Lee, Dr Gunther von Hagens expertly and deftly dissects the human body in a way that shows how the various organs and systems connect.

I watched the episode titled “Reproduction” and was amazed at the intricacies of the inner working of a woman’s body. Dr von Hagens had a series of foetuses in different stages of development. I was looking forward to the different phases of the womb during the menstrual cycle.

Yet not one word was spoken about menstruation! How can a programme about human reproduction ignore menstruation??? Menstruation is fundamental to both woman’s fertility and her sexual availability. We were told the full workings of ejaculation. Why not menstruation??

Dr Gunther von Hagens dissected a womb yet did not explain about the lining and preparation for implantation, nor the menstrual cycle that cleans and replenishes the womb.

This oversight confirms to me that there is still a great deal of silence and denial of menstruation. Despite our scientific culture, there is still an unwillingness to acknowledge this important part of a woman’s body. Menstruation occupies up to one quarter of a woman’s life during her fertile years. This is a lot of time and it impacts on a woman’s life in important ways.

But Professor John Lee and Dr Gunther von Hagens did not think it important enough to even mention during an episode devoted to reproduction!!

You can see the episode here.

Tamara - The Centrury Project

Frank Cordelle has kindly given me permission to show a photo from The Century Project that relates to my theme. All of the women who pose for Frank Cordelle choose their own setting. Tamara chose to express this part of her life in this way without any distractions. Frank’s high view-point makes her look smaller and gives her some vulnerability, yet her direct look shows strength, dignity and is completely devoid of shame. Tamara’s poem is beautiful and expresses heart aspects of menstruation that many women feel but do not know how to express. Thank you for your boldness Tamara.

Menstruation is a significant part of most women’s lives and our society tries to ignore it. There are few places where a woman can express how she feels about her periods. This site is one place where women’s expression is welcome. Send me your ideas, images, favourite sites, favourite books and I will post your comments, with your permission, of course.

The photo and poem below was published in the book: "Bodies and Souls: The Century Project" copyright © 2009 Frank Cordelle.

“The moon,
like a prospective grandmother,
keeps time.

In an empty womb,
I create space
for process.

Pale yolk
runs from me,
malnourished and alone.

All that is mine
breaks
apart
in grief

becoming
rich pulp,
the ripe fruit
of my most internal decomposition.

It gathers like angry water

beating blood

against
flush,
tender walls,
crashing comfort,
painfully pulsing

out of me.

It flows wide
spilling, furiously,
red
onto the altar of my soul,

to which I bow in need of You
in body,
in blood.”

Tamara

Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby


At the Wharenui
Download a 6meg .mov clip.

Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, is a humorous, bold and irreverent TV programme from New Zealand about a fictional boys high school starring David McPhail. Tepapawai Boys High is threatened with closure and the school attempts a variety of activities and avoidance tactics to avert the inevitable. Mr Gormsby is an ‘old school’ style teacher with a plethora of politically incorrect attitudes and behaviours that highlight the absurdities of life. The students are rambunctious and defiant about learning almost to the point of being unteachable, but they do not want the school to close either. The result is a comedy that makes many social comments on education and human frailties, as the students and teachers co-operate to fight a common enemy, the Education Review Office (ERO).


Mr Gormsby with the Education Review Officer

In Series 2, episode 6 titled “An Inspector Calls” tackles the often avoided topic of menstruation. Mr Gormsby uses implied menstrual customs to avert the ERO inspector from inspecting a
wharenui, a traditional Maori meeting house. He blurts out a string of menstrual euphemisms and confronts the ERO inspector. The fear is that a menstruating woman would reduce the sacred power of the carvings in the wharenui. There is often a relationship between fear and respect, for example, a strict and disciplined teacher often has the respect of the students. The mystic power of a woman to create life engenders both fear and respect and must be treated carefully. Part of the insult for the ERO inspector is that a woman’s menstrual status is considered a personal and private matter in western culture, irrelevant to her ability to perform her duties.

Many traditional cultures had restrictive and sacred customs associated with menstruation. Although Mr Gormsby’s aim is stalling the ERO inspector, there is evidence that menstruation required specific treatment in traditional Maori society. This is an article describing some menstrual customs in Australia and New Zealand,
New Zealand Institute, 1904. Full article can be found in the National Library of New Zealand.

A more modern article gives a Maori interpretation of
celestial bodies and describes the moon in female symbology. Some traditional cultures required women to have exclusion in separate huts, during their menstruation. One example is of Ethiopian Jews who settled in Israel Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. This exclusion allows women space and privacy under the protection of purity rites. In highly patriarchal societies, this totally female space was potentially a refreshment, a time out for women.


Photo - Margaret Kalms

Please, do not get the impression that Maori culture is stuck in the past. Wharenui are a cultural focus for Maori life both past and present. A descriptive background and short history of wharenui is found in this
Education Resource, used with kind permission from Wellington City Gallery, Te Whare Toi. This resource includes definitions of many Maori sacred words and explains how symbols of today’s modern world view are incorporated into contemporary Maori ideas.

Modern art is revitalising the wharenui with new building techniques, technology and modern symbolism. Here is a wonderful modern rendition of a wharenui by a modern fractal artist,
Rerewhakaaitu, which includes a description of the meaning of wharenui that is well worth reading. The Chrysalis Seed Trust magazine which explores the intersection of art and faith, describes the potential for Maori tradition to be integrated with the Christian faith in meeting houses. Many wharenui have become churches.

This integration of indigenous culture with mainstream (western) culture has not happened to the same extent in Australia. Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby is an amazing blend of the issues of indigenous culture and spirituality with mainstream and can teach us all to look life directly in the eye and face many difficult issues with courage and bold, good humour.