Looking for the Ladies’ Room

I was thinking the other day about the fact that when I was younger, it seemed like all the cool stuff in the world was reserved for boys. Participating in Olympic sports (because you had to be naked), acting, fighting in wars, being a doctor, shaving, attending college. Needless to say, my information was a little outdated, but it is true that at one time all of these things were solely the right of men.

More recently, I’ve been thinking about stuff like Varzesh-e Pahlavani, an Iranian martial art that I think is one of the coolest, most difficult-looking things I’ve ever seen. Or the fact that Highland Dance originated as a way for the Scottish military to keep fit. Most religious orders segregate the sexes. And everyone knows about Dervishes, about Gregorian chant, and Buddhist sand mandalas. And it’s in the back of everyone’s mind that these things are done by men.

I think I’m going to be doing some research into the more hidden life of women. Where, outside of child bearing, do women have primacy? What do women gather to do that is strictly theirs? What do women do to exercise, worship, create art in a way that men don’t? I’m looking for things that are organic to women’s own experience. Not “I’m a woman, and therefore I am going to consciously create something that rejects the male,” because that is inward looking, celebrating the self. I’m looking for art that says “I am using the strengths that are given to me to create something of value that is mine and cannot be created by any other.”

I’m not saying for a second that this stuff doesn’t exist. I’m only saying that this is a sad lack in my own education, and something that I feel lucky to have the rest of my life to investigate. And I’ll let you know what I find.

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