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Catalog of Shows




female rebels and mavericks

Audacious 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.

I 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)

taming the female body

In 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 surgery... Most 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 of women

Male 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

Read more on Patriarchies

racism, history and lies

"Oh, 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.

rebel shamans:
indigenous women confront empire

"Grandy Nanny didn't catch bullets for you alone." --Jamaican saying
“Lozen is…strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people.” --Apache chief Victorio
"Viva la Santa de Cabora!" --Yaqui and Tomochiteca rebels storming the customhouse at Nogales, 1896

Priestesses, 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 many levels.

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....

amazons and women warriors