F*@K politeness: The Femme Fatigue Project

 This piece was part of an assignment that had to relate to University of Dayton’s campus community. Written spring 2017.

    Humans live busy, tiring lives. Pulling an all nighter to catch up on homework, running errands all day and breaking a sweat while working out at the gym are all exhausting tasks that constantly occur for many people. The most exhausting of them all is often unspoken and goes unacknowledged: being female.

    In some shape or form, women can admit it’s tiring living lives as females. From dealing with catcalls and stigmas about feminism to managing periods and dating lives, there’s a lot that goes on that makes women, women. Anna Pompilio and Martha Huot made it their mission to make those stories known.

    Both fashion design students at the University of Cincinnati, Pompilio and Huot had to come up with a creative project for their design program they had complete control over. The duo talked about how other students would make simple, easy items such as scarves, but they wanted to do something different; something designed for the people.

    “We both were in the mindset of making something that matters,” Huot said.

    Pompilio and Huot kept throwing ideas back and forth in order to find something that stuck. Pompilio drew cartoons of women one day, but they weren’t just any women. Instead of the playfully cute cartoons of women we’re used to seeing, the women had a creepy, quirky cartoon vibe. With those drawings and inspiration from Shel Silverstein in mind, The Femme Fatigue was born.

    According to one of their advertisements, “The Femme Fatigue is a compilation of the trials and tribulations of what it means to be female.” This project stemmed from the recent emphasis on gender within society. From some women feeling threatened and uneasy about the results of the presidential election to the women’s march in Washington, D.C., it’s more important than ever for women to speak up about how difficult it is at times to be female. The duo decided to call their project The Femme Fatigue because they acknowledged the unspoken truth all females can relate to: being female is exhausting.

    “We’re all tired,” Pompilio said. “We deal with bullshit on the regular basis, it’s just part of our lives.”

    The duo wants to make it known how tiring it is to be female through these stories. Any stories relevant to being a woman are being accepted are encouraged. So far, they have received relatable stories from women such as forgetting tampons while camping, trying to relieve the uncomfortable feeling of chafing, and experiencing the struggle of not being able to sleep on their stomach because their boobs are too big. Pompilio’s grandmother and her friends have even contributed stories, proving that any era, women have struggles that are still relevant overtime.  There have been more serious, personal stories as well Pompilio and Huot was surprised to read.

    “I’m in awe that someone is sharing (their stories) with me,” Pompilio said. “I didn’t think people would be so willing to share personal stories.”

    Pompilio and Huot are hoping to make a book filled with cartoons and stories from college-aged women around the Ohio area. Although they are both students at the University of Cincinnati, they made sure to reach out to the University of Dayton community. Pompilio is from the Dayton area, so she’s familiar with UD’s emphasis on community. Since UD is a catholic marianist institution, she believed reaching out to the UD community could have the potential to put an interesting twist to their project. Pompilio and Huot needed assistance in accomplishing that, so that’s where Amy came in.

    Pompilio’s sister, Amy Pompilio, is a sophomore math major at UD. She has been assisting The Femme Fatigue creators by establishing contact with the UD community through participating in poster runs on campus with her sister and spreading the word in general. Amy praised the resources women have on UD’s campus, including the Green Dot program and the women’s center. That being said, Amy thought UD would be the perfect place to collect women’s stories.

    “We have a hub here for that,” Amy said. “It seemed like a good fit for campus.”

     Being women themselves, the Pompilio sisters and Huot all have their own unique connections to the project and identify with feminism in strong ways.

    Huot had the challenge of growing up in Mason, Ohio, a suburb in Cincinnati that is mostly conservative. She found it hard to speak out about her beliefs in that environment. Huot has spent most of her college career focusing on design, specifically men’s apparel and sportswear design. Naturally, her work is focused on men, but most of the designers are female. It gave her a sense of confidence and determination to be a working woman in a male-focused field.

    “Anything you can do, I can do too or I can do better,” Huot said. “I grew up with that mentality.”

    Pompilio admitted she never really thought about feminism until she got to college. As any college student, there’s a sense of independence when paying bills and becoming involved in the workplace grows to be more prominent. As a result of Trump being elected president, many women and minorities felt a sense of threat. Pompilio knew it was important to become an active participant in society and stand up for what she and other women believed in. Though that was one driving factor, her college experiences contributed to her awareness and passion towards feminism.

    “When you’re in college you literally get knocked over the head by gross straight guys,” Pompilio said. “I think seeing it and experiencing stuff made me realize there’s no reason we shouldn’t have the same opportunities as men, it blows my mind to think the other way.”

    Being a math major and a drummer within a male-dominated rock and roll band as a female, Amy has already broken through gender stereotypes. Although quite challenging, women breaking through the gender-status quo is becoming more dominant, and Amy has already done that by studying in a STEM field and playing a typically male dominated instrument.

    “The micro aggressions that happen, the little things that happen as a girl, everyone has something to share” Amy said. “It’s very fun to be pro girl.”

    Pompilio and Huot have high hopes for this project. As feminists, they hope to spread the positive message of feminism and try to strike down the stigmas. They do recognize that different women interpret feminism differently and that’s okay. As long as a conversation is started and people can come together to understand common threats women face, then their job has been worth it.

    “We started this project, but we don’t want to be the ones to finish it” Pompilio said. “We picked up the baton and passed it to others.”

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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