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Conferences, Conferences and Conferences- I know why no one wants to go to them. Or if they do, they pay over $9,000 to die in a Sweat Lodge with the male Guru James Arthur Ray author of the big hype Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life you want.

Categorized in these topics: Engendered Practices Female Social Justice Feminine Matrix and Female Culture Social Memory

We die many other forms of deaths such as straight-jacked conferences formats. It is no joke. Nineteen people were hospitalized and two people died in a sweat lodge, a super heated sauna that had the super hot Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life you want, guru expert James Arthur Ray. The joke is on the term guru and male- how we worship anything male as being a guru, our saviour. And yes, the cost is exactly, $9,695 per person.

“I was surprised that people would put themselves in that situation, but not surprised, because people are looking for things to fulfil themselves and give themselves purpose,” Ms. Brown said in a NYTimes article.

Is this why so many of us go to conferences, seminars or self-help workshops?

I remembered years back in Seattle at another women’s conference. A Native American woman speaker showed up very briefly and left immediately in disgust. She was incensed at the women (mostly white women) sitting there passively and who would remain passive long after her speech, too. To me, her confronting approach was so much more whole brain/body inclusion, riveting and filled with first person story very much applicable to all. It was just that most of the women at the women’s conference didn’t get it. The women in the audience sat there dumbfounded that their speaker walked off indignant within minutes of arriving at the podium.

I got up and clapped for my profound teacher who would send me back to Bosnia to work on trauma instead sitting passively in auditorium or in front of a TV. After all, the Native American woman’s speech was experiential igniting a response and female consciousness to those who can relate to synchronicity and the creative. I was forever spoiled by her and I am forever in her debt.

At conferences, I notice I am indignant when the power point is switched on or the monotone reading behind the lectern begins to stretch to ad nausea. First off, I do know how to read. Second, research has proven without a doubt that after three or five minutes, whatever is read goes right out the other ear and out the mouth as a yawn. Ok, I understand the two persons that died and nineteen others hospitalized did not know how to read the dangerous circumstances. Perhaps, that is the danger, we gave up our inner authority, our ways of knowing to an authority outside of ourselves all dressed up at the podium or lectern like god. I do know that lectern and the computer power point provide a distance from making a mistake and being shamed. Perhaps, especially for women, the safe distance covers up their feeling of never being good enough, never being qualified enough and believing she is a fraud especially when she wants to become her father and be like all other men. Along with this is the fear to speak up or conform to Peter Rabbit’s statement, “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

Yet, I am torn with the wisdom that women need to gather together.

Gathering together means to not indulge co- dependently or be based in strongly alienated independence mirroring the man she married or the father. Conferences and even academia, let alone, the careful demise of women’s studies departments to switch to Gender studies edit out any semblance of females ways of knowing and nurtured wisdom that in the end could save us all from a cataclysmic end.

It is rare to have a conference focused on the women or mother not as a patient or something to fix but as an instinctive honour and immersion in our conscious mitochondria DNA passing down through mother to daughter lineage. However, most conferences are rarely about women, by the women, for the women. Yet, conferences are white washed in the flat masculine linear left brain antics. The startling feature is that women perpetuate the flat line approaches in their worship of anything male.

Given that women are in academia and research along with dictates to do conferences, the rigid framework to immerse participants into masculine left brain thinking rules sets up women to justify their presence, their qualifications and competition that she can do it better than he can. The audience ends up politely sitting through the nasty boring (boring is unenthusiastic hostility) presentations. What this means is that the audience sees the elephant in the room but somehow know this woman needs to commute the life sentence and continue to prove she is a man, not equal to a man. It is exhausting to sit through presentations and papers. The information overload kills the female body/brain/spirit. Without conscious choice females are operated on to become transgendered into males conference by conference, presentation by presentation. Women are divorcees from their feminine realm.

This brings me to Nancy W. Passmore who wrote an essay Conscious Manifesto:

“The female, long accused of illogical thinking, has often shunned this process (through socialization, biology, or accident) and can, potentially, reverse this order. I suspect that herein lies the potential for quantum cracking of the Aristotelian-patriarchal egg. The ability to be receptive, intuitive and arational can put the “data” sequentially before the “theory,” the “answer” before the “question.” Or as the Red Queen admonished Alice, “It is a poor sort of memory that only works one way.” “

Clearing up through the rubble from numerous conferences that I attended or presented at, a few women imparted an immediate knowing which would remain in my social memory as female to female conversations of the soul. Just like the Red Queen said to Alice while she was in wonderland, the nexus on salient dimensions that females are embedded with are: one) time/space and; two) wrapped in meaning and articulation from body/brain/spirit. For instance, years ago, Maya Angelou gave her heart to a counsellor’s conference. I can almost remember every word she poured out from her depths.

At a recent conference I experienced social memory with more speakers that transcended the patriarchal conference format to deliver their lived experiences. Gudrun Frank-Wissman, provided a short documentary film she did on the Palua, initiation of a Mother after first childbirth. It was riveting and compelling with its images and intimacy. Genevieve Vaughan’s Maternal Humanity and the Gift Paradigm about two economies centers on mothering. It is about giving, in order to receive. Vaughn is the foundation and driver of these memorable presentations albeit in a conference environment. Sponsoring the (M) Other World conference for Vaughn is, perhaps, to break in a female nurtured wisdom. Her cohort Heide Goetnner-Abendroth (Germany) has a fine mind to clearly point out what is truly irrelevant at hand breaking the academic field with her Academy Hagia in Germany.

Pilwha Chang from Korea mixed both film and images of Gift Giving, Mothering and Ancient Ways cantered about an elder Korean grandmother having to move her home and the extinguishing of the generations long kept lit fire in her hearth. When the water was poured onto the Korean hearth my heart stopped as it did for the Korean grandmother. Ever eloquent and graceful Sobonfu Some` (Burkina Faso, Africa) talk delivered without any powerpoint or read directly from sheets of paper displayed an authenticity rarely surfaced in patriarchal conferences. Nadine McNeil (author, yoga teacher-Jamaica) delivered her talk without powerpoint about introducing Yoga to Jamaica youth facing violence ignored in western media.

In the hall of Gems, was Wahu Kaara’s, (Nobel Peace Winner 2005) talk that dramatically marks female geography and ignites social memory practices since she lives every word she has spoken. Then, there is Makilam Grasshoff who speaks many languages. Grasshoff’s presentation on Symbols and Magic in the Arts of Kabyle Women articulated beyond words into intense meaningfulness. Letecia Layson (Philippines) took us on a journey to look at Babylan of the Philippines.

There are more speakers that if housed in a female geography to mark a landscape from which female life experiences are dressed not into male clothing and male embodiment, would impart social memory to manifest female culture so needed in our world today. What if women’s gathering were to form, not conferences? If partnered with the Gift Giving Economy fundamentals, the participants would be immersed in mothering rationality along with a host of other possible realms that lay undiscovered and hidden from our consciousness.

Would we, finally, have a cultural or symbolic logic instead of deliberately occupying inhospitable habitats of the patriarchal workplace, academia and conferences? Meaningfulness and connotations of lived experiences which, definitely etch DNA, is applied without any so-called virtue of slavish accommodations to the schemes of conferences or academia that benefit none of the women’s studies, women in general or daughters of the earth. I seem to remember Derrick Jensen’s Language Older than Words, writing how education takes so long because it is all propaganda to erase the being that we all are regardless of gender.

Of course, the exploitation of cultures such as the Native American tradition of Sweat Lodges for schemes of riches becomes a good business practice and theme for conferences. Joseph Bruchac, an expert on Native American traditions and author of “The Native American Sweat Lodge,” said that number far surpassed the 8 to 12 typically present at such a rite. “It means that all these people are fighting for the same oxygen,” he said. What is astonishing is the fact females manifest culture and where earth oriented traditions and practices are founded on but all the experts are men.

What if we included a practice to manifest culture not conferences? What would our world look like?

I do know that the $9695 fee would go fund many of the Kolo: Women’s Cross Cultural Collaboration trauma work on the frontlines of violence. And I do know I can make choices as to where I place my money and how I search for meaningfulness and rich nurtured wisdom.


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