The gender temperature divide & Horizontalidad | CamLab II

CamLab II set up a “Yurt City” of tents in front of the MOCA Geffen on February 2nd providing free workshops and MOCA sponsored sustenance of hot chocolate, coffee, tea, soft drinks and yummy baked goods, like macaroons, rosemary crisps and chocolate chip cookies to snack on between sessions. It was fun, informative and a great creative and social learning event.

Each CamLab is a different experience and the theme of this CamLab was to “provide a fabric infrastructure for receptive bodies to listen, learn, and speak to each other.” It was set-up like a “mini summer camp,” or more appropriately, a winter evening camp, for adults. There was a selection of five different “teach-ins” that were thirty minute sessions ranging in topic from using communication and self-defense to observation, topographic and ethnographic study and movement conversation. (The list of class options: Workshop Options for You Are An I.) The workshops were powerfully informative for the short time frames and were meant to be samples of full-classes that can be taken by the professors and professional instructors leading them.

One of the three sessions I attended was with professor Ken Ehrlich on “WHAT IS HORIZONTALISM?” It was a workshop exploring “democratic decision making using strategies of self determination developed in Argentina following the economic crisis of 2001 and the occupy movement.” As part of that workshop, we were given a writing exercise with ten minutes to present a dialogue showing different sides of a conflict that had no clear resolution. I pondered, should I write about politics, religion, money, sex, relationships, family…there were countless topics of controversy that had no resolutions. But then a revolving battle popped into my mind: the one that comes up over and over again at every work place, car ride and relationship I have ever been in. The battle over the thermostat.

It’s a strategically fought battle between men and women in every workplace. Generally, the men want to crank up the AC and the women want to crank up the heating. On a smaller scale this seems to occur on road trips and in any shared spaces. Men seem to operate better at a lower temperature than women and think that the best solution is for women to “put on a sweater” because men start sweating at the comfortable temperatures that most of the women prefer. While this seems like a gross, gender-biased statement, I’ve observed it in every office I’ve ever worked in and dealt with it in every household I’ve ever lived in, including those in foreign countries, and there has never been a final resolution.

It’s made me wonder…if we can’t even agree on a comfortable temperature, how can men and women live together? Further, if we cannot even democratically resolve this simple conflict, how can we resolve much more important global issues?

Horizontalism/Horizontalidad is “a social relationship that advocates the creation, development and maintenance of social structures for the equitable distribution of management power. These structures and relationships function as a result of dynamic self-management, involving continuous participation and exchange between individuals to achieve the larger desired outcomes of the collective whole…Horizontality is an attempt to decentralize power by allowing everyone to become active and direct participants in the decisions and actions that affect the individual most. This is accomplished without top-down directives or obligations to the individual. Autonomy is constructed through mutual agreements and voluntary commitments that respect the diversity of individual capabilities and personal desires.” (Wikipedia: Horizontalidad.)

How can Horizontalism/Horizontalidad cure struggles over the thermostat, relationship and family disputes and even global conflicts? In a simplistic way, it’s based on elemental things: thinking/reflecting, communicating and participating. Complainers hop to it! No more passive aggressive actions or passive non-participation, it actually requires that everyone partake in finding a solution. It’s not a top-down, imperialist model. No gender, race, class or even age discrimination. Instead of a hierarchical type of system, it’s inclusive and means that those with opinions, information and ideas take action. While the principle doesn’t allow people on the top to pass down decisions that the masses have to execute, it is also a system that requires that no one is sitting around waiting to be told what to do either. It requires social responsibility, mutual respect, open dialogue, active participation, sharing and self-motivation. If we want change and want things to be better, WE independently and collectively have to make it better by engaging in the resolution. It’s NOT simple, easy, painless, quick or even permanent, but maybe it’s a process to help mediate the 20 degree thermostat deficit or the 1-99% gap.

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Links, sources & resources:

Horizontalism | Pedagogy of the Opposed by Paulo Freire:

Horizontalidad | Ruptures in imagination: Horizontalism, autogestion and affective politics in Argentina by Marina Stirin:

Wikipedia Horizontalidad:

CamLab events:

About CamLab:

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