In this post I continue to probe the issue of Gender Imbalance – to ask questions and seek answers; to provide some insights into how this topic infuses the show “It is She Who I See;” and to clarify how this relates to the mission of Interference Arts.
I would like to start with a look back to my last post, where I said:
The balance of female and male energy in the universe determines the evolutionary path that we traverse, and it doesn’t take a great deal of observation to note that today’s state of imbalance requires attention. As I consider this condition I find that I have more questions than answers, and more concern than relief. When I look into this I am buoyed to know that many others are also wondering, acting on it in many ways, and seeking a community with whom they might collaborate to make change in the world.
Future posts will bring into focus some of the people, projects and communities that I have come across where important work is taking place.
Time and Evolution
I think a lot about very long trajectories of time and evolution of human activity. My Configurable Space project looks out twenty five years into the future to consider the impact of new technologies on creative activity and artist studio environments. My work on 3-dimensional music notation systems looks back at the last 1300 years of the evolution of Western music notation, and considers how new technologies might impact how we notate music and develop performance practice among musicians and other performing artists 1000 years from now. This exploration on gender imbalance hearkens back several millennia to a time when matriarchal societies were more prevalent on earth. It explores the long evolutionary trajectory that brought us to today, and considers what the future might be like a few thousand years from today. If I have learned anything from these large scale long term projects, it is that real change always takes longer than I ever imagined, which leads me to think a lot about my own meager attempts to have an impact on the world.
Much research and exploration have taken place by many others more informed and knowledgeable than I am about these issues. We all benefit from their efforts to explore and inform us, and it is up to us to decide what we want to do with what we learn. As I research the nature of and difference between matriarchal and patriarchal societies, I’m intrigued to learn that there are different kinds of matriarchal constructs, and that this is not only a issue of which gender is in a position of power, ownership and inheritance. It is also very much a issue of style. I’m finding that matriarchal societies tend to be egalitarian in nature, often governed by consensus democracy by all genders and generations. There tends to be less of an emphasis on power structures and institutionalized hierarchies, and they’re oriented towards cyclic thinking as opposed to linear thinking.
The difference in perspective and approach between genders, and the balance of energies and forces at play undoubtedly have a dramatic impact at individual, local, national and global scales. In my view an imbalance exists today that favors the male energy in a way that is detrimental to establishing a healthy sustainable world. Issues of ownership and possession, control, decision-making processes, and the identification of priorities are skewed by a male emphasis.
We observe increasing attention globally brought to women’s rights, indication of a shifting in perspective that potentially alters the current balance. This can be seen in a variety of ways – women obtaining key leadership roles in public affairs, politics and industry. There seems to be an increasing focus on education and equal rights for women in societies all over the world, and an expanding and deepening presence of women in the arts. But this is a long term arc of history, and change is slow, uneven and varying in different places around the world. In the USA the first women’s rights convention took place in 1848. Development in this area in the Middle East is very slow but present in very measured ways so far. Strong forces react to maintain status quo all over, even in the USA.
I don’t know if evolution in this landscape is linear – moving from women-centric to male-centric perspectives, or if there is a pendulum process in play that swings back and forth across several millenia. Might we be heading towards a condition that favors the matriarchal perspective, only to swing back to patriarchal societies further down the path?
In “It is She Who I See” we slow down our sense of time enough to “still” the movement, regardless of whether this is a linear or a cyclic process, so we can collectively explore the balance between female and male energy in the universe. Rather than be reactive subjects of outside forces, might we play a proactive role to function as constructive change agents to establish a new and healthier balance?
In the world where we exist in “It is She Who I See” we experience the sense of time and passage in a very different way. It becomes not simply about getting from here to there. The experience of truly slow passage focuses the lens on our path more than on the unfolding of time. Oddly, when we allow ourselves to reside in that world, our sense of time past and time future converge in the present moment; our connection with what has happened and what will happen blend with what is happening, and we have a rare opportunity to explore who we are, what we are, and where we are.
As I meditate on all of this, I am struck by the realization that I grew up in a geographic part of the country – Rochester, New York – where the Iroquois Confederacy existed for many years. The Iroquois is one of the documented societies where women had significant influence in the culture. Women were in charge of the land, the crops, and the animals that the men hunted; women were the spiritual leaders of the society and keepers of the culture; and inheritance flowed through the female line. I was born there, and I spent approximately 23 of my 59 years on the planet in that region – breathing the air, traversing the lands, hunting for arrow heads and other relics, making music and exploring my purpose in life – never really learning much about the Iroquois society and culture (another opportunity to open a window into different perspectives on ownership and passage).
Now I find myself drawn to explore these issues of balance and sustainability. Maybe it’s more about being than going.
Interference Arts is intended to probe issues of importance to our humanity and our condition, and to provide a platform or conduit for people to share their knowledge and perspectives, to offer ideas about how to affect change, and to join with others to forge forward as a force in community more powerful and effective than striving alone in isolation.
I’m seeking to engage with cohorts to continue the exploration, and I’d like to hear from you to exchange ideas, share observations, weigh in on the topic, and identify actions that we can participate in or launch to reposition the balance.
And of course, please come to the show.