In my opinion gender, per se, is not the real issue here. The type of genitalia a person possesses is about as relevant to their value as a presenter as whether they have an innie or an outie belly button. Many males have a distinctly “feminine” perspective, and vice versa, and this was in ample evidence in the SYTAR presentations.
I think it’s important to not get caught up in the masculine vs. feminine argument either. It’s very easy to put these labels on differing perspectives, and tie those labels to whatever axe we feel needs grinding. It’s ultimately a polarizing view that takes us away from each other, and away from Yoga – which after all, is about integration and seeing beyond the obvious.
Actual Yoga is neither masculine nor feminine, and I believe the only relevant distinction in this discussion is Yoga vs. non-yoga.
Regardless of their gender, or “masculine/feminine” perspectives, if someone is willing to discard or minimize the essence of what makes Yoga unique, special and effective – i.e.: RELATEDNESS – they are (in my view) taking us outside the field of Yoga. If it were me choosing, a prospective presenter’s ideas on this issue would be the primary determining factor in the selection process.
This, more than anything else, is what I found questionable about a few of the presenters at SYTAR. What are we to think of a teacher who’s focus is on what we should do as a profession to make ourselves acceptable or credible in the eyes of the rest of the world, and who utters not a word about honoring and protecting the very thing that makes our work unique: the student/educator relationship? I found this “relatedness” theme also largely missing from the research design and presentations, mostly because it was one of the variables that they had to “control” for in order to make the studies reproducible.
I’ve always said that anyone who’s opinion really matters has long since been convinced of Yoga’s efficacy in a wide range of therapeutic applications (by anyone, I mean upwards of 15 million members of the general public in the USA). Who are we still trying to prove this to? Doctors? Hospitals? The government? Insurance companies? Some honest inquiry into the real motive behind these research studies could yield some enlightening answers.
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t do research into the effectiveness of Yoga; I just think we can find ways of designing better studies that tell us something we don’t already know. For example, I’d love to see a study that INCLUDES the student/teacher relationship as a central element. Here’s a study: given identical sequences to teach, does an experienced teacher get better outcomes than a novice teacher? If anyone wants to do this study, I’d be happy to help, because I’d really like to know the results – even if they challenge my basic assumptions about teacher training.
As always, please feel free to share what you think….