If I pick the most influential humans of my life, they are all men. My dad, art teacher, music teacher and my first boss. This is interesting, because I have had such shit experiences with the other sex. I have had my privacy violated in a massively public way, I have had countless guys use me, be uncommunicative, expect sex from me because I choose to hang out with them over girls, talk about me behind my back, disregard what I have to say etc. I have been through so many confusing interactions and relationships with men and boys … for sure a lot of them were boys … but still, my most influential people in my life are men. Curious.
These four men, they have, at various times in my life held a space for me. My father always answered my questions. He would gift me in depth knowledge on the inner workings of so many aspects of the world. This would make me more curious, thirsty and opened my eyes, not only to the wonder around us but also how I could seek out more about it.
My art teacher would challenge me, he would push and prod me to massive points of frustration, constantly asking me about my thoughts, my artwork, my philosophies and my choices. He would dive deep into my mind to release the ah huh moments that needed to be revealed.
My music teacher, became my friend over conversations and he sought me out to hear my opinion on quite adult stuff. He chose me, when I was a 15 year old, to explore and figure out situations. He valued my opinion. He valued my opinion. The feeling this gave me is the same as the empowerment you receive when you stand your feet squarely on the ground, you put your shoulders back and your head is held high.
My first boss, he was a crazy, exacting, hard working dutchman. He was hard to work for, volatile, uncommunicative and pretty scary. But he had a heart of gold, you just had to work for it. The first six months I was useless, I had no idea what I was doing but I had an ah huh moment one day when a new girl came and within two days was doing the jobs I should have been nailing by then. I observed, I realised she was simply using her common sense and for the next three years I owned it. The working relationship with my boss changed from always being scared to one of empowerment. I knew that I could handle working under him, I knew that I was strong. I learnt that a shift in mindset is all that is needed to change a situation. And his mindset, which was revealed constantly and unequivocally became the fabric of my being and drive me to this day.
They each, in their own way, held space for me. They challenged me and empowered me but more importantly, I think they saw me as my potential. They saw me as my brain, my attitude, my unique way of seeing and thinking and being and they talked to this aspect of me. They didn’t talk to me as a girl, they talked to me as a person.
Holding these men a benchmark, I look at what is happening in our society and really do think that this is not common. I can’t really speak from that many personal experiences about clashes with men because if stuff comes up I sass them real good.
An experience does come up though, and the hilariousness of the coincidences make it all the more potent. I was in Budapest on the International Day of the Girl. I went to a museum and found myself in the Hungarian history exhibition. There was opulent wealth, pristine clothing, military exactness but the thing that stuck out where the paintings. The skilful recording, the opulent frames, the rich oils were so so lush but the subject matter! THE SUBJECT MATTER! It was all men in suits, men in positions of power, men in dark rooms, huddled around their mahogany tables deciding the fate of their country, of their continent, of their world. I got angry, I got sassy, I got frustrated! I sat down and wrote a poem, first lines are “Hay patriarchy, have you seen what you’ve done lately, to your woman, your queen, your fellow human being”. Once I got to the end of this, when I had the ecstasy and the energy flowing through me that only comes from creativity, a man walked over and asked me “Are you drawing the nice dresses?” Like, gobsmacked. I stink eyed him and asked him why it had to be dresses I was recording? Why not the suits or the swords? He back tracked and apologised, then asked me what I was in fact doing. And I told him “I am writing a poem about patriarchy because I am so inflamed by seeing this history and knowing how fucked it has made our planet and society” I then proceeded to tell him the poem. His first response, “thats very angry” … my response, “ We are”. AND THEN! He chewed my ears off for 10 minutes talking about how he was a feminist because he had two daughters and he was a teacher. He told me all about how he liked Hillary Clinton, then asked me out for a coffee. It was so frustrating, I felt like a void, like an emptiness that he thought it was his right to fill. Shit, that could be a euphemism for some of the super serious abuse men are inflicting on woman huh? He didn’t hold a space, he knew my position and my frustration with men that at that time was totally peaking yet he dominated and infiltrated my mind and my aura and my energy. He commanded me to listen to his boring bullshit, he didn’t take and explore my line of reasoning nor my ideas. It got my eyes rolling but it also alerted me to the sad fact that this is such a common relationship.
Domination and infiltration. Its rife, its infectious and it's got womanhood, society and our planet at large in its testosterone fuelled grasp. I mention planet because my eyes are focused on its lushness through my work as an artist. We all know the catastrophes that are infecting our home, climate change, greenhouse gasses, changeable weather, dwindling food sources, unparalleled level of lab created toxicity. Its inflicting and infecting everyone.
In my primary school days, we were learning about extinction of animals and climate change. We learned about recycling, about native bushes, about the amazon being cut down. It was on the horizon, and my young brain found it slightly scary, but still, we would catch the bus back to paradise. We would drive over wide, expansive rivers that were full of the rural neighbourhood kids all summer. There was awareness, but no sense of urgency. Before I went to art school, as a recent high school graduate, my mum advised me that I make environmental art, for it will be one of the most important subject matters in the coming years and decades. I followed her advice. It was partly her influence, but also, it was an insatiable calling for me. I had to follow the world, I had to look at my relationship with it, humanities relationship with it, and I had to find a way to heal it. I grappled throughout my degree with how to do this. I majored in sculpture but struggled so much, never could I justify making things, as there was so much stuff in the world already. Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to do a project in post quake Christchurch. I choose the wild flowers and weeds that grew through the concrete and the cracks. These were recorded and their old traditional, medicinal and material uses were complied into posters and hung in these vacant lots, adjacent to the plants that were growing.
The project was a great success, but it opened up a view perspective for me that had been hidden in the recesses of my mind. The plants grew through concrete, they broke through this artificial seal that had quietened natures expressions for 100 or so years. The earth was providing a myriad of different healing herbs at the exact time we needed them. It was a gentleness, it was a quietness, it was a subtle, regenerative attitude and it was being spoken by mother nature. MOTHER nature. The feminine in our whenua is so a part of our lexicon and so aptly has it been named. In the Christchurch quakes it was such an eye opening dichotomy, the grey, hard, unmoving infrastructure versus the soft, bright, green wilds. In the female / male interaction, often, so often it is like this. Hardness and focus versus softness and gentleness. I think the evolving and unfolding of our impact on our planet has been dictated by the different unconscious ways the two sexes operate. We have had massive liner growth, more more more, faster faster faster. There has been a focus, a domination, a dictation that seems to be categorically male. The feminine has not been valued, listened to, respected or reflected into the way we have redesigned our planet. It is like woman have had to follow along behind. I get an intuition that woman have seen and felt the stupidity of our choices for generations but have been convinced that the capitalist agenda is the right way. But just like the plants in post quake Christchurch, we have a way of getting there eventually, in the most perfect, regenerative, on point way. We have a way of providing the perfect healing perspective just when it is needed. I think part of this is because of the way our focus falls. Men see off into the distance, through a tunnel, into a far away focus. Woman see the all around. We live and exist and see in a web of circulating complexity. It has been quiet perspective but it is one of infinite power. It is aligned with how the universe truly exists and operates. Our human experiment has moved us away from the universal truth of complexity, but listening to woman can bring us home to it.
Being included in the sacredness of womanhood today, is the most delicious experience. We can look into each others eyes and see our soul sisters in an instant. We talk, openly and honestly, about everything! We dive into our depth, we are not afraid to grapple with the toughness that occurs in our human experience. When we meet each other on a dance floor, it is not the one upmanship I see operating in male interactions, but a woman is welcomed, she is let into a gorgeous girl power hug. This hug is growing from strength to strength in the woman world, but it wants to include the male also. It is infinite, it is big enough for every soul to fit. It is about listening to the gentle, quiet, healing power. It is about opening up space for the depth and breadth of the lady perspective to be heard, to be honoured, to be valued. For women, it is about tapping into the potential and the power of our all inclusive perspective. For men, it is about opening up that space to hear their all seeing, all being counterparts. Just as the influential men in my life did for me, it is the ability to hear and see the unique wisdom of a fellow human.
I think that for us to heal our humans and heal our home, we need a reconciliation. A reconciliation of our soul and our heart with our mother nature. Our real nature. We will do this through a reconciliation between the male and the female. We have run so long under the male agenda, but now it is time for the lady wisdom and voices to be heard. Now it is time to eradicate the domination and duality and to welcome ourselves back to the soul and back to the balance. We will find how to do this within the woman wisdom.