More on Protection and Protective Shells

Metal Washers sewn onto a small doll as protection or a Protective Shell,
Small Doll with Armor ©Susan McCaslin 1984

I am committed to my belief that the need for protection, the creating of a protective shell is a common thing for all of us. We just do it in different ways and for different reasons.

We experience our lives filled with unique reasons for needing the protection we seek. 

Why did the Old Leatherman wear a suit made from leather boot-tops? No one really knows but I think it might be because he could. He was comfortable with the material and he knew how to make an outfit, a coat and a pair of pants. He knew how to work the leather. He knew what his limits were, what he could carry and what he needed to survive. But why did he need the protection? Was it weather, snakes, sunburn — what? Why do we wear certain clothing? Fashion, the temperature, use? Do I need protection for something else than what you need protection for — something emotional or physical for survival?

Is the reason for protection more meaningful to me than you? If I have suffered physical abuse and you have suffered psychological abuse, do I need more or less protection than you? If I come from a culture where there has been more abuse and you don’t—like the Jews and the Holocaust or the African Americans and Slavery—do I need more protection than you who comes from the Anglo Saxon culture? If you come from a background of privilege, are you suffering less than if you had come from a culture that has suffered trauma?

Are their clues to the trauma or the suffering that we can detect by the choice of protection? Does the woman who has been raped have a different fashion sense than the unraped woman? Can one of us claim a level of protection over that of another?

We all suffer from abuse and trauma and we each create the protection that we need to survive. One way I protect myself is to be hyper-vigilant in observing the ways of others. I want to know why they are acting that way and I want to understand what they are doing and why. If I understand their behavior, I can protect myself from their actions. I wonder, would it be better to just put on a leather suit that is impenetrable? 

I am currently exhibiting at Crown Gallery in Bridgeport CT.
Exhibiting now at Crown Gallery.