The Future Is Female: An Attempt to Knock the Patriarchy Off Its Pedestal

The Future Is Female: An Attempt to Knock the Patriarchy Off Its Pedestal
All photos by Melanie Bonajo

Last night, art students and hip New Yorkers convened at a gallery on Bowery, The Hole, for the opening of Future Feminism, an exhibit of 13 feminist tenets set forth by a collective of five artists: Antony, voice of chamber pop group Antony and the Johnsons, dance-based performer Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler of shock rock group the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and hip-hop/electro/folk artists Sierra and Bianca Casady of CocoRosie. The exhibit and performances and talks set to take place in the space through September 27th are the beginning of the future, what these five women have taken from feminists past, and where we as a "species" need to move forward. "Future Feminism is definitely a new movement," said photography student Mike Bailey, attending the event. "It's a whole new wave of feminism."

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The 13 tenets of Future Feminism hung on The Hole's stark white walls, clean circles of nude rose quartz -- a stone thought to have healing properties which comes straight from deep inside the earth, attributes the women felt best represented their manifesto -- each with its own chiseled tenet. Tenet I: The Subjugation of Women and the Earth is One and the Same. Tenet II: Future Feminism Requires the Participation of All People. Tenet III: Enforce a Global Standard for the Rights and Ethical Treatment of Women, and so forth. Attendees fanned themselves walking from stone to stone, stopping in a back room where a film was screened, the five artists standing in a line, holding hands and periodically walking in a circle so their positions changed. Toward the end of the night, the crowd and artists convened for a group photo, signs handed out for people to hold up reading the evening's mantra: The Future is Female.

"With this work," said Sierra Casady, "rather than it be completely defined and politically prepared, it is a doorway into being just united." It's about healing and uniting and working together, she said, and about recognizing the earth.

The exhibit was conceived of over the course of three years, each of the women having dealt with issues of misogyny, environmentalism, sexuality, etc. It was only natural to express themselves through art. They planned their approach through a series of discussions, sometimes eight to 10 hours long, where the women really learned to listen. Through this new way of conversing (they'd take notes on each other's points and speak in turn), they honed in on their 13 most important messages, the distilled essence of what they'd been exploring individually and what they felt was most pressing for a brighter, more inclusive, harmonious future: That women are continually, globally mistreated. That what the world needs is to embrace what they see as feminine qualities -- compassion, gentleness, kindness, intuition -- instead of what it's been embracing, which is conquering, eradicating, fracking.

The Future Is Female: An Attempt to Knock the Patriarchy Off Its Pedestal
Future Feminism's 13 tenents

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"I've been searching all of my life to see if we can come up with something different to rock the patriarchy off their pedestal," said Pfahler, the oldest member of the group. "You need to tilt the scales with a very strong message for a while until it sinks it... People are still misogynists. They're still hateful. Women are still devalued. People look at women and think, 'oh, you're short, you're small, you don't matter.' I'm not willing to live like that. "

Future Feminism aims to make sure she, and all women, won't have to.

The Future Feminism exhibit features art, talks, and performances that take place at The Hole through September 27. See their website for schedule and details.

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