Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Pussy Riot and the Emerging Power of Women

Interestingly, Pussy Riot’s punk prayer continues to agitate and inspire. It also lends itself to the reflection and analysis of other cultures and societies well beyond the Russian Federation. That is, Pussy Riot is a lens with which we can use to examine any tier of any society. We can ask ourselves, where ever we live in the world: 'What does Pussy Riot say about Thailand?' or 'What does Pussy Riot say about America?, for instance. Which is why, when we do tilt that lens to the west, one can't help but notice that forty years after punk rock's inception:

• It’s 'girls' who demonstrate that the spirit of rock is not dead, though it may very well appear to be at times in places like London or New York, or anywhere, actually, where music is only made to be licensed for a commercial or otherwise lives to serve as a soundtrack for a a spin upon a treadmill or around a shopping mall.

•  It’s 'girls' who emerge as freedom fighters and who set the unequivocal standard for arts activism.

• And it’s 'girls', again, who managed to rattle the Kremlin; and it's 'girls' who now suffer harsh legal consequences while one can simultaneously imagine a billion men that simply prefer to watch the whole thing play out on their smartphones and digital tablets.

In other words, how or whether Pussy Riot's punk prayer changes anything in Russia is perhaps not even the correct question. For many people, the more relevant question is: 'How has Pussy Riot changed me?'

And also, Pussy Riot’s rail against patriarchy no doubt will survive as a sign of the times, and not just as a bit of music history but as a symbol of the emerging power of women in the 21st Century. For, indeed, women can be seen to be taking an increasing lead in ideas, inspiration, cultural advancement and political influence, and they are doing so all over the world, and at all levels of society.

Besides Pussy Riot, other notable examples of this shift can be exemplified by Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!; Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton; Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani educational activist, who survived an attempt on her life by the Taliban; Italian particle physicist, Fabiola Gianotti, who is said to lead the largest scientific experiment in the world at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland; and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia who is oft quoted for telling a group of Harvard students, "If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."

Certainly, the women of Pussy Riot have also made a similar achievement in the area of Arts Activism and Culture.

But maybe you think Pussy Riot’s punk prayer is just Riot grrrl styled punk rock or maybe you think it sounds like Beastie Boy styled rap; or maybe you think that it’s not music at all – just a bunch of yelling and angry noise. It all depends on where you stand aesthetically and philosophically. But while it might sound like the sound of something dying to you, it's also the sound of something being born; and that something is the future itself.