Madame Gandhi: Why One-ness IS the Future Female

Well, SF Yoginis and Yogis, it’s almost that time again! Wanderlust Squaw Valley is just around the corner. Now if you read my post on the magical summer weekend I had at last year’s festival, you’ll know that my FAVORITE thing about it was the space it created for women, men, and everyone in between to come together as one loving, nurturing community. So, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Madame Gandhi - who'll be playing live and sharing her beautiful message - when she told me that’s exactly what our female future looks like! And who knows? Thanks to this lovely lady (and so many others, including you, dear reader) that future might already be here...

Who are some of your favorite female role models and why?

Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Beyonce because they lead within their femininity...it's so rare. For so long, we were taught that in order to succeed, we had to masculinize, whether that’s in the workplace or in leadership roles, for instance what we saw with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This sets us up to fail because we’re not men. Like these women, I want to lead with my femininity. I wanna be someone who’s emotionally intelligent, collaborative, thoughtful, caring, loving - things I associate with my own femininity.

Do you have an unlikely female role model?

Zoe Kravitz. Well, maybe she’s not necessarily unlikely, but I love how she celebrates her beauty, expresses herself through her fashion and style, moving between androgyny and traditional feminine looks. She’s a gifted musician, actress, and works for women’s rights and various organizations all over the world. I like the idea of us being able to enjoy our beauty and wanting to be attractive to whomever, while still being good at what we do.

What inspires you most about the women you know?

I love female solidarity, I love seeing women support women. Recently, I threw a party in LA called Bleeding. We had 5 female DJ’s headline and we raised money to donate to Happy Period. Near the end of the night, after the 4th DJ, Kittens, had left the stage and the 5th DJ, Suga Shay was into her set, Kittens got back up on stage just to tell Suga Shay, ‘You’re doing such a good job!’ Soon, they were sharing the stage, playing records together, vibing off each other…it was amazing! That’s when the party reached a new level. Interestingly, the same thing happened this morning in Austin. I was DJ’ing a Soulcycle class here at SXSW when one of the instructors I met yesterday told me how excited she was for my DJ set and asked if she could tag team with the instructor. The two instructors, Christie and Lauren ended up with 2 bikes onstage, riffing off each other - it was so organic, so fluid. For me, seeing women working together at the top is so powerful. It’s inspiring when women work together and lead together.

What inspires you most about what you do?

I feel it’s important I speak my truth in taking all the pain and past sexism I’ve experienced and addressing it directly. In that, I hope to be able to empower other women not to have to go through it as much as i did - that’s what gives me life. And when people come up to me after my shows talking about their creativity, telling their story, letting me know I’ve inspired them to get back in the studio….well all the best musicians and activists always inspired ME to go and be my best self, so doing that for the next generation of women, men and all genders in between really let me know i’m doing my part.

What, in your opinion, could make the biggest difference right now in the daily lives of women?

As women, we need space to hear ourselves think. So much of the marketing is constantly trying to construct our identities for us and it’s really frustrating. Are we supposed to be…Fierce? Beautiful? Thin? Working out? Great moms? CEO’s? It’s too much! Everyone’s trying to tell us what to do. It’s just as oppressive as anything else. Whether you’re telling us to be strong or demure, you’re still dictating our behavior and that’s not what we want. So, for me, I really feel like we will live in a world that’s a bright future for women, a future that is female where each person has the space, the freedom, the healthy environment they need to express themselves authentically. I’ve had to actively create that space so I can decide exactly what I want for me and my art. Women are able to shine and be their best selves when all the insecurities that are taught to us slowly start to drain out, so we don’t hear them anymore. Those evil voices in our head come from external factors. So when we separate ourselves from all the messaging, we can more easily be our best selves, lead well, lead fearlessly, lead together, and show others what solidarity and sisterhood looks like. And we can use the practices of yoga and other activities to create that space for ourselves so we can be our best selves.

For the complete Wanderlust lineup and ticketing information, please visit http://wanderlust.com/events.

Photo: Anna Maria Lopez
Post written for SFYogaMag.com