“Gender is not something that one is, it is something one does, an act… a doing rather than a being”, states the feminist philosopher Judith Butler. With this in mind, veteran participant and PP-ME project manager, Heni Bizawi, interviewed her fellow female athletes as part of her ‘Feminist Encounters’ course at The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. Heni, who will soon be completing her undergraduate degree, joined PP-ME in 2006, at the age of 16, and grew to become one of the organization’s leading coaches and project managers. Informed by her own experience as a female athlete at PP-ME, she created a unique and powerful exhibit that examines the richness of female identity, and the way clothes both reflect and affect the many facets of being a woman.
“When I put on my basketball clothes, I feel free, strong… I feel comfortable with the feeling of success and personal fulfillment”, says PP-ME project manager and basketball player, Courtney Douglas, in her interview with Heni. “In formal wear I feel more attractive, gentle… people are surprised by the change from one image to another”.
“I am most comfortable in basketball clothes, especially when I wear them during a game… I don’t think about how I look, or what people think of me” says leading PP-ME coach, Rebecca Ross. Asked how she felt in formal wear, Rebecca replied, “I like to dress up for events… sometimes I have to introduce myself because people don’t recognize me. They say, ‘you look great’ or ‘why don’t you always wear your hair down’. That unsettles me sometimes because while I’m flattered, I still feel most comfortable in my sweatpants and with my hair in a bun”.
Heni also brought her own impressions to the exhibit: “When I put on my basketball uniform, I feel that this is my athletic side, which is strong and confident…formal wear can feel like a disguise I put on for society”. “Femininity”, she says, “is a constant game, and the boundaries of what is feminine and what isn’t are flexible, and ultimately up to us”.