International Women’s Day is the day women’s voices resonate across the planet. When we think of Women’s Day the first images that come to mind are often women marching and holding banners with powerful slogans or influential feminist figures delivering speeches. We equate Women’s Day to the ongoing fight for gender equality, equal pay, and combating sexual discrimination and harassment. These current issues are affecting women across the globe. Until we have shattered stereotypes and obtained equal rights for each and every sex, shouldn’t we be shouting about these issues from the roof-tops every day? Shouldn’t every day be chance to make our voices flood society like a tsunami?
If we challenge discrimination and fight for equality each day, then what is the significance of International Women’s Day? Like any festival it is, of course, a celebration. A day to celebrate what we have achieved and what we can create. A day for women to explore themselves, their minds, and their bodies. Explore what is means to be female.
On 11th March we gathered in Red Room to celebrate the wonders of women. We explored our bodies and minds through artwork, yoga, meditation, music and dance. We fed our bodies with culinary delights (and a cocktail or two).
The workshops and interactions that took place in Red Room on that Sunday gave me a chance to dig a little deeper into what makes us female. Here is just a small selection of my observations:
Women are creators
To state the obvious and the most fundamental, women create life. However, women’s creative abilities stretch far beyond this. The artworks exhibited in Red Room, many of which were produced by female artists, attest to our originality, creativity, and fearlessness to experiment and convey a strong message. For example, Selina’s piece ‘Emergency’ uses the image of a nipple to scream out about the discrimination lurking in our society, not just men discriminating against women but also woman to woman discrimination.
Elsewhere in Red Room female vendors and entrepreneurs exhibited their own artistic creations from hand-made jewellery, vegan-skincare products and clothes, to spice-mixes, tortillas and delectable baked goods.
Women emanate positive energy
One of the most hilarious moments of the day was the Laughter Yoga Workshop with Lydia Chang. As Lydia explained to us, laughing triggers a rush of feel-good endorphins into the body. From practicing Laughter Yoga, we can release endorphins, reduce stress hormones and nurture an overall sense of well-being. Best of all, our body does not recognise the difference between fake laughter and real laughter; we get the same feel-good effect. To get our hit of endorphins we practiced various laughter exercises and ‘faked it until we made it’. We laughed when we introduced ourselves, we ran around laughing madly, we high-fived each other and laughed until our tummy muscles ached. For the final exercise we sat cross-legged and laughed continuously for five minutes. Everyone gave 100% positive energy, laughing so hard we were dizzy with endorphins.
Women are meditative
Possibly the most mystic activity of the day was the Singing Bowl Meditation Workshop run by Anne and Kevin. Anne uses her ‘singing bowls to create sounds which invoke deep relaxation and stimulate the senses. We lay on our backs with our eyes closed and let the vibrations overwhelm us. It is very difficult to put this ethereal experience in words; I lost all perception of time and have almost no recollection of where my mind wandered during the meditation. My only vague memory is the sensation of being naked on a mountain (although I was wearing clothes, I promise!) and a light, floating feeling.
Women are explorers
The ancient Greeks explored the human body through sculpture and painting, creating divine angel-like beings. Artist Suzie Chen, however, takes a more realistic approach towards exploring the female body in her painting ‘I’. Suzie portrays her body how she sees it through her own eyes. From a distance, what appears to be a painting of two mountains and a valley with a tree becomes the female body. This version of the female body is not from a male gaze or the gaze of anybody else, but from our own perspective when we observe ourselves.
Photo credit Suzie Chen
Another Women’s Day special exhibit was Delphine Mae’s video installation, which explores the depths of identity and self. Naked male and female bodies covered head to toe in calligraphy represent the internal conflict of Yin and Yang- the male and female persona- within every one of us.
Women are on fire
The evening wrapped up with reggae and Latin tunes. Reggae Heights lifted the mood to a whole new level and brought the audience to their feet. Then, the fiery trio from Last Minute Latin Band set the Red Room alight with Latin spice.
Reggae Heights’ Rolhensha Henry positively oozed power and passion with her stunning voice.
Vicky Sun and her guitar brought this evening of celebrating the wonders of women to a close. Her smoky vocals entranced the audience; we shared a moment to reflect on some final thoughts, a moment to empower.