We all make snap judgements about, well…everything. I knew the title of my project and blog would be no different – I needed to intrigue people and make them think for a minute, to draw them in. I wanted my purpose to be clear, but I also wanted to remind myself why I am doing this.
The well is a symbol of many things…when full of water they represent life and hope. I know that the voices I will find on my journey will be vibrant and alive, jumping off the page and into people’s consciousness, so the image of a well as alive and full of hope really resonates with me. But empty wells can also symbolise despair and loneliness, feelings experienced by so many isolated women across the world who love women in a climate of fear and oppression.
Wells are also full of mystery, and people often peer into deep wells wondering what is down there… I believe many people feel that way about women who love women – we are a strange and mysterious species about which people are curious but too afraid to ask. Or else people think they already know and make judgements based on misinformation, which can be as dangerous as drinking from an unknown well.
In a well water comes from unknown depths and places and many women feel that their love for another woman comes from some unknown place; no one told them or showed them how to feel this way, but something deep inside them knew that they loved another woman and there was nothing they could do to stop it.
There is also the obvious (to literary lesbians at least) reference to Radclyffe Hall’s ‘The Well of Loneliness’, perhaps the most iconic novel written about a woman who loved a woman, written in 1928 but not published in the UK until 1949 lest it encourage female homosexuality and lead to ‘a social and national disaster’. It is said that Hall wrote the novel to ‘put my pen at the service of some of the most misunderstood people in the world’. Almost 90 years later millions of women around the world are still misunderstood and discriminated against, and I hope my project will also go a small way towards serving them.
Finally, I discovered that ancient sacred wells were also thought to have been the vagina of the Earth Goddess, so that pretty much settled it for me. All of these interpretations resonate with me in some way, and at this very moment I am looking down into the well and preparing to jump right into the unknown – my first interview.