In this tangle of happy hours and sales that can be life in DC, it’s easy to bypass introspection. Remember that? From those school papers? Ahhh, yes, the unexamined life is not worth living and all that.
Anyway, that’s what I took away from a recent panel discussion at Heiner Contemporary in upper Georgetown. The panel, very appropriately titled The Woman in Me: Femininity and its Construction in Contemporary Culture, consisted of artists who all focus on gender in their performance or their skills. Ebony Dumas is the co-founder of Girls Rock! DC and a DJ who performs as a drag king. Yoko K is one of the only women who not only creates music but also produces it entirely. Paco Fish is a founder of the Sticky Buns burlesque troupe, performing neo-burlesque and stand-up comedy. The panel was moderated by Holly Bass, a poet and performance artist concentrating on themes of black femininity.
Now, to the introspection. Members of the panel and the audience were asked to answer some questions I’m still considering. What’s your first memory of something truly feminine (feminine, not female)? What’s the difference between little boys shaving their faces like their fathers and little girls putting on makeup like their mothers? And several others, but those were the ones I’m still pondering.
Of course, it wasn’t all somber reflection (who am I, anyway?). Paco Fish performed an enthralling boy-lesque, exhibiting how neo-burlesque takes the form back from “the male gaze.” Sticky Buns is performing tomorrow at The Red Palace on H Street ($10), if you want a peek yourself.
Yoko K played a track off her freshly minted new album. She had just mastered the track earlier in the day and was afraid there might be too much bass, so she held two speakers in her hands as the music played. The image was especially appropriate at a panel like this one: tiny Japanese woman holding her creation in her hands, offering her life’s work to the audience.
Holly Bass recited a poem about one of the unsung (zing) funk singers, Betty Davis, and one of the most libidinous songs ever, in the history of the world, ever.
Attending a free lecture panel and just being asked to listen and consider, while sipping a lovely complimentary white wine (because what else would you serve a bunch of women?), was a refreshing change to the aggressive nature of living in DC. Stop for a tick, think back to some small but important moment in the construction of your identity. It’s fun.