rebels and mavericks
women who break the rules: adventurers, witches and wantons, heretics,
lesbians, women who pass as men, daredevils, free-thinkers, radicals,
insurgents, and visionaries
A global spectrum
of valiant and defiant women: a heretical Italian pope, renegade Buddhist
nuns, the runaway Afghani who became a Sufi master. Women who passed as
men to fight in revolutions, practice medicine, and roam the world. Chinese
marriage-resisters, North American free-lovers, and Hindu avadhutis who
disregarded norms of female (or any) dress. Singers of rebetika, boleros,
and the blues. Tattooed women, martial artists, and fiery orators speaking
out against injustice and war.
went out of the convent; I found myself on the street, without knowing
where to go; that was no matter. All I wanted was liberty. --Catalina
Erausa, Basque adventurer (1585-1650)
the female body
the name of propriety, modesty and femininity, women have been bound,
broken, slashed, hobbled, shrouded and confined. This visual presentation
looks at corsets, footbinding, seclusion, burqas, witches' bridles,
female genital excision (and today's variant, surgical "labial
reductions"), breast implants, and high-fatality gastric-bypass
people think of the veil solely in terms of Islam, but it is much
older, originating from ancient Indo-European cultures. It had class
as well as gender implications, and the strong association of veiling
with class rank persisted historically up until the last century.
(More historical perspective on veiling
Nawal el-Saadawi has called the Western obsession with makeup "the
postmodern veil." Many women feel ashamed to be seen without
it. Social coercion takes many forms, whether they involve the imperative
to cover a woman's entire body, even her face and hands in extreme
cases, or to strip it in a commercially-mandated display. The media
culture of anorexia, female deference, simpering, and pigeon-toed
tottering has a staggering reach.
When does fashion become fascion?
a global perspective on the oppression
privilege, female subjugation, and the sexual double standard. Patrilineage.
Virginity. Obedience. Female captives. Rape. Servile Marriage. Battery.
Concubinage. Polygyny. Throw-away females. Prostitution. Brothels. Property.
Boy-preference. Girl-infanticide. Divorce. Widow-persecution. Resistance.
The subject is vast, complex,
and often starkly brutal. Patriarchy interlaces with other systems of
domination: slavery, class, caste. To name it means confronting fear,
danger, and resistance: it is the unspeakable, even now.
But naming sparks change.
"In childhood a female
must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord
is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent." ---Laws
of Manu, India, circa 7th century BCE
"It does not belong to
a woman to determine anything for herself, but she is subject to the
rule of Three Obediences: when young she must obey her father, when
married she must obey her husband, when a widow she has to obey her
son."---Kung Fu Tze (Confucius) China
"Our fathers have willed
that women should be in the power of their fathers, of their brothers,
of their husbands." -- Roman senator Cato, Italy, 195 BCE
"I am powerful, I am all-powerful,
I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal." --inscription of Esarhaddu,
king of Assyria
racism, history and lies
what a disgrace if a race so despised, so entirely the slave of
demons, should thus conquer omnipotent God's elect people."
--Pope Urban II, calling for the First Crusade
Eurocentric texts present myths of
racial supremacy / inferiority as historical fact. This slide talk
surveys the ways that indigenous histories have been omitted or distorted,
and Eurocentric chronology ( whose "Antiquity"?) and geography
("Old World, New World"). It looks at attempts to de-Africanize
ancient Egyptians and to ignore Saharan civilization, and examines
the ongoing overthrow of the Bering Strait doctrine and other colonial
models of history. A survey of Black South Asia is included. The origins
of European racism and anti-Semitism are discussed in the context
of crusader invasions, blood libel pogroms, inquisitions and burnings
driven by diabolist ideology.
[For more on Racism and
History, see Articles.]
the european conquests
"That a war of extermination
will continue to be waged until the Indian race becomes extinct,
must be expected." ---Governor of California, 1851
South African colonial father
Jan Smuts declared that the San (so-called "Bushmen")
should be "looked upon as vermin and exterminated on contact."
Settler states, slavery, racial caste
systems. Ideologies of dominion: "Savages," "Convert
the devil-worshippers," "God on our side," "Manifest
Destiny." Racialized angels and demons, conquest glorified.
Global patterns and diasporas. The slave trade, including enslavement
of American and Pacific peoples. Erasures of genocide and resistance.
Indigenous sovereignty movements.
indigenous women confront empire
Nanny didn't catch bullets for you alone." --Jamaican saying
is…strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy.
Lozen is a shield to her people.” --Apache chief Victorio
la Santa de Cabora!" --Yaqui and Tomochiteca rebels storming
the customhouse at Nogales, 1896
diviners and medicine women stand out as leaders of aboriginal liberation
movements against conquest, empire, and cultural colonization.
Spiritual spheres of power have been a crucial staging area for women’s
political leadership and for challenging systems of domination on
This visual presentation looks at how indigenous women draw on their
cultural traditions to resist colonization and how, by virtue of who
they are and where they stand in the social order, their personal
access to direct, transformative power makes the spiritual political.
A description of this new show is coming....
and women warriors