Wendy Young Photography | South

Being a Southerner carries a complex weight in the rest of the country. It’s a weight that Southerners are aware of when traveling above the Mason Dixon line and west of the Mississippi River. When visiting my Dad’s side of the family in Washington State, I was constantly reminded that my Southern accent and my proper use of “yes ma’am” set me apart geographically from my blood relatives. My Mother cringed when I would adopt the nasal, pinched cadence of my cousins’ accents to keep from being labeled as “talking funny.”



I was aware at a young age that the North and the South were two very different places within the same country. I felt that Northern attitudes toward the South were mostly misconceptions, but came to understand that those misconceptions had dark truths behind them. The intricacies of being Southern have always fascinated me . . . maybe because I was “half breed,” my father being from Washington State and my mother from Louisiana. I grew up in a Baptist family, lived across the street from a farmer’s kid named Pee Wee, and worked in my dad’s hardware store. All of these experiences shaped me into the person I am today. I learned about love in the church, learned to love the land from Pee Wee and learned about race in the hardware store. The South was in my blood, but to approach an understanding of the South, I had to leave it.



Notions about land, religion, and race represent the disparities between the South and the North. To try to depict the South without examining all of these characteristics would be fruitless. My absence from the South gave me the opportunity to see that pine trees, single wide trailers, the deep religious traditions, and the white male culture of the South were interesting enough to photograph.



This selection of images represents my visual exploration of the White Male culture that is prevalent in the South. For many, the idea of white male culture in the South conjures pejorative descriptions such as redneck. good ol’ boy, cracker, racist, and misogynist. For me, it conjures images of individuals I have known, some of whom were rednecks, good ol’ boys, crackers, racists, and misogynists. Others were not. I have grown up with, been inspired by, and been patronized by Southern white males. I married, procreated with, and divorced a Southern white Male. I have been taught by, preached to, and employed by Southern white Males. Some of their names I remember, and others are simply memories of good times, fast cars, chivalry, Confederate Flags, bad dates, and raunchy comments. I can visualize the men of the South that I have had contact with, yet I never photographed them. My experiences, both positive and negative, with white men of the South helped to shape me. These pictures represent my attempts to understand white male culture, and my desire to shed light on the kinds of men who impacted me during the thirty-four years I lived in the South.

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