Women, Metamorphosis And The Butterfly Effect
The session explored the new book, “Women, Metamorphosis of the Butterfly Effect”, as well as the play and movement building process based on it.
Maria Suarez Toro (author), Valerie Miller (International Advisory Group of Wings of the Butterfly) and Ailyn Morera (play’s director and scriptwriter) used music, video metaphor and storytelling in examining popular education methodologies of “resonance”, “butterfly effect” and artistic expression, to connect participants beyond the limits of language.
Prior to viewing, Maria Suarez Toro goaded participants to “listen to what is being shown” to be able to derive answers to: “How is it that when we look at women’s invisible contribution in 1) the world – what resonates in our connection to them? 2) butterfly – who are the women that you know in life, country or anywhere that have made contributions but are unrecognized? The butterfly effect means building and finding visibility and doing honors to recognizing those who lack acknowledgement/appreciation.
The five minute excerpt from the play (staged at the CTICC the night before) focused on the characters of Lucy, Mavic, Molly and Boc Dong Kim as audience’s reaction was used as take off point to spark a conversation on the session’s perspective. True enough various reactions surfaced – women’s invisibility and rights; feeling the connection with personal experience of having a grandmother (who was a social worker but whose efforts remain unrecognized); Angola rural women’s stories of working for peace; some connecting with experiences of colonization, etc. Maria Suarez Toro also shared having learned that that it was the mother of Bob Marley who actually taught her son how to sing but such accomplishment remains unknown to the public.
How did the process evolve and develop? When the book (38 stories) was first presented it was conceptualized as a musical and theatrical show. The author was very clear in her objective of not only to rendering visibility to women, but bringing women back to life as well. Everything else that comes out of the book would contribute to movement building. This is because when women are out of the picture – the household, community, entire country are also not seen, excluded fro view. Discrimination against women cuts across society at large. This happens everyday with women’s personal interactions as well as those with the government, and even in other social movements that are engaged in transformational politics. Despite the commitment to building a just, inclsive and equal societies, women’s oppression as an issue has been left out.
The “butterfly effect” alluded to in the book’s title speaks of the stories and contributions of women, connecting them to today’s challenges. This refers to the current hegemonic paradigm of dichotomies, divisions of which some are devalued while others are valued. Practices and paradigms that reaffirm life are opening portals for people to gain greater understanding of how to develop, question and apply this knowledge from a vital perspective. In turn, this can inspire critical thinking about the paradigms themselves, value solidarity and equality, and help to recover hope based on the fact that small gestures can have huge impact on society.
The “butterfly effect” has to be deconstructed in order for “resonance” to work. Men’s writings are recognized. They construct women’s bodies and these are examined as evidence. This is the hegemonic paradigm. When we bring women in with pictures, we want to bring in everything invisible and that means including all people who have been rendered invisible. When we bring out women, we bring connection in the eyes and experience of women. The author went further to extrapolate situations and characters in her book to give concrete examples of resonance and butterfly effect and how these methodologies can work out effectively in movement building. She connects giving voice to women as equally important in building a movement. Lifestories, researched from around the globe would give life to muted voices and accomplishments of women.
The author (Toro) said that the important contributions in her work are evidence of the strength of alternative paradigms that are expressed often and in complex ways in the lives and deeds of women throughout the ages, in spite of wounds, beatings, slaveries and captivities. Recognizing and validating them is to return to a belief in the human species in spite of its detours into “otherness” that separate us and the violence that has caused so much destruction.
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