BRING US YOUR WOMEN recap: Michael performs “EVE” with Axemunkee (videos)

Bring Us Your Women is now running a Kickstarter campaign to put together a film anthology and album!

EVE artwork by Kristilyn – Zombie Romance

We had a great time performing last Thursday at Oberon as part of Catherine Capozzi‘s Bring Us Your Women project. 

Bring Us Your Women is: “An homage to women, divinity, and the pursuit of freedom will be performed by Catherine Capozzi with Axemunkestra. Multiple songs will be performed accompanied by dance, visual art, and spoken word. This performance explores issues related to women, religion, sex, and politics. The focus is on tolerance and inclusiveness, strengths and commonalities – themes that are bigger than individual beliefs and are shared by the most prevalent religions on our planet including various versions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Paganism.”
When I first heard about the project, I thought it sounded like an amazing idea and I was really looking forward to seeing Axemunkee work with visual artists and dancers to bring these stories to life. I knew it would be a powerful and moving show! As the planning progressed, Catherine asked me if I would be up for writing lyrics and singing a song as part of it. I was honestly pretty reluctant. I didn’t really know if it would be okay for me (not a woman) to take on a voice in the context of this show. After a little persuasion and assurance that it would be okay, I agreed. 
I was assigned Eve, which particularly frightened me. How could I tell the story of Eve in a way that fit within the context of the show? How could I tell the story of Eve in a way that worked with me as the writer/singer? A few weeks before the show, as I was developing some ideas, Catherine told me that she wanted me to open the show. This was completely terrifying. I protested a little, but there was no changing her mind. So, now I not only had to figure out how to give a voice to Eve’s story, but I would be setting the tone for the entire show. 
Triptych Poster for the whole event

After weeping a few tears of mortal terror, I started thinking about how, as a male, I have often been afforded an opportunity to be heard without some of the knee-jerk misogynistic backlash that is too common. I thought back to various Facebook battles (e.g., the great Zipcar slut-shaming email war of 2013) and to other interesting conversations about the role of men in changing societal views of women. I thought perhaps I had an opportunity to set the stage (as the first act) and remind everyone that the foundational stories for several major religions (and formerly practiced religions) include what I can only describe as institutionalized misogyny. After reviewing Genesis, I thought that maybe the most powerful thing I could do to set the tone was to simply present the underlying adversity and misogyny and allow the other artists to show great women overcoming, ignoring, and obliterating those misogynistic bases. 
When God presents the laws to his people, several regarding how God is viewed are framed with and based in jealousy (“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God”) and, at least on the surface, very human ideas about angrer, vengeance, and intolerance for betrayal. (I certainly realize that these may be argued to be metaphorical and framed in their written form only for the purpose of human comprehension. That is fine, but I am looking at the literal word for these interpretations.) I thought it might be interesting to explore Eve as not betraying humanity, but rather betraying God’s desires in the way that so many are punished in Greek and Roman mythology. Cassandra particularly came to mind – awarded great power for being beautiful, but cursed for denying the advances of the giver. I saw parallels to these things in modern ideas. Even if most don’t really subscribe to the idea anymore, there is an underlying cultural concept that women are given gifts, but expected to serve in some sexual form in return. 
I thought it might be interesting to consider that the story of the creation of “man” began with Eve, not Adam. Eve, created in God’s image, was the most beautiful creature possible. Perhaps she was placed on Earth by God to rule with him, but to remain his and only his. When her beauty earned the favor of the creatures of Earth and the angels of heaven, God was jealous. When Eve wished to separate herself from God, she, from her own body, created a companion for herself. This angered God and Eve was tricked and punished. Eve’s denial of advances resulted in great human suffering, with a particular focus on ensuring that women would forever be subjugated by men.

I was extremely excited to be paired with visual artist Kristilyn / Zombie Romance (whom we had worked with on The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library’s Art-Music Exchange) and dancer Jane Doe (whom we hard worked with on the Endation “Staab” music video).

In writing the lyrics, I hoped to tell the story in mixed perspective – my own outsider perspective as a male descendent, an omniscient outsider narrator perspective, and a portrayal of God’s anger at the end. I borrowed some turns of phrase from Milton’s _Paradise Lost_ and this is what I put together…

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”

God made the sky, air, earth and heavens
Breathed life into you Eve, demanded your reverence

a tour of the grounds, offered dominion
a dowry enough for relations hymenean

All the creatures of Earth witnessed your dynastic birth
To rule, to subdue, a suitable helper for you
You tore a rib from your flesh, gave life from your chest

Flowers, garlands, and herbs to beast, bird, insect, and worm
You knew we had nothing to hide, You knew we had nothing to hide

Now Eve the creator, free-thought vindicator attracted the angels’ celestial favor
Bone from her bone and flesh from her flesh this binary fission, bypassing a creche
A jealous lord says kneel, crawl and these women must take the fall
so the Serpent was sent to stop God’s little malcontents
to strip them of favor, demand subservience
Extracting the life from your ribs, the father is envious of his kids
But you knew we had nothing to hide, You knew we had nothing to hide
Obey, obey, obey

Millennia have passed and not much changed; Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame
Or think the unbefitting holiest place; Whose bed is undefiled and purely chaste
Of virtue, and place, and innocence; defaming, impure God takes offense
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Dear Bacchus punishes priss, you punish those who’re not
Pandora, Cassandra, this is it, so listen bitch!
No woman, no woman, no woman, cuts off God’s dick!

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”

Big thanks to John Doherty for recording this:

Playlist of all of the videos of the night (available so far):

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