It's Time To Talk About The Misogyny in Theatre

It's Time To Talk About The Misogyny in Theatre

Theatre is about acceptance, so why can't women be accepted?
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In high school theatre, it is a common truth that the boys are few and far between. There's typically at least twice as many girls in drama classes, and the teachers are also mostly female. As we grow older the balance between men and women actors never changes, but the opportunities for men somehow far outnumber those for women. As a result of this imbalance, women have become disposable in the modern theatre. In an industry run by men, women struggle to find work. This is not true only for actors, but for technicians, writers, composers, directors, and producers. In the professional theatre there are very scarce numbers of women in positions of authority and rooms full of men pulling all of the strings. Theatre is a boys' club.



The most obvious example of misogyny is in and around the audition room. A professional actress spends the majority of her days in and out of rooms full of men who have spent all day looking at girls dressed and styled just alike. Because of the sheer number of women in the field the men behind the desk can afford to be as disgustingly picky as possible. The first girl has brown eyes, so she's out. The next has small breasts, so she's out. The next has wide hips, so she's out. This superficial critique continues until the casting director finds the "look." Talent has taken the back seat to appearance. A mediocre actress with a skinny legs will beat out the talented one with larger thighs almost every time. Often, the only time you will find a plus size actress on stage is when a part specifically calls for a "fat" girl, which only occurs when the character's weight is a joke or a main plot point of the show (if not both). This shallow approach to casting comes from two places: the men involved in the casting process and the men writing the material.



The casting directors are not completely at fault for the degradation that occurs in the audition room. They have countless people standing over their shoulder, barking orders and giving suggestions. If they do not present the artistic director and the producers with what they want, they could potentially lose their job. This puts the sexism on the shoulders of those higher up in the process: the production team. Sex sells and producers know that and without a producer, there is no money, so the artistic directors have no choice but to look for the "hot" girl. They describe the bombshell beauty to the casting director, who in turn sacrifices substance for superficiality. Talent has become fleetingly less important as big names and pretty faces light up Broadway.



At the top of the misogynistic pyramid is the creative team. When the ratio of male to female performers is considered, it is only logical to assume that there would be far more roles written for women than for men; however, the opposite is true. There are simply not enough roles written for women, thus it is easier for men to find work. The corruption goes even deeper than this. Where there is a surplus of women trying to get on stage, there is a deficit of women behind the stage. Female writers, especially successful female writers, are few and far between. Just last year was the very first time that an all female writing team won a Tony Award for Best Musical. Because of the "boys' club" mentality in the theatre, women can have a difficult time getting involved or being recognized in the creative aspects of theatre, which only greater affects the lack of female characters, particularly quality female characters. Women write the best female characters, that is an indisputable fact. The 2015 Tony Award winner with an all female writing team, Fun Home, had three female leading roles, of different ages and types. In comparison, the 2014 Tony award winner (with an all male writing team), "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," had 2 male leads with two female ingenues, whose only function in the play was to be pretty and in love.



It's time for the theatre community to own up to the issue it has created for itself. The feminist movement has made women in positions of power in the corporate world an issue, and as a result has drastically increased women's equality in the workplace. The theatre community needs its own feminist movement. Women are not second class citizens and are most certainly not second class actors, writers, directors, or musicians. They deserve equal opportunity to practice their craft without hoards of men standing over them pulling the strings. There are several theatre companies that have come into existence in the near past that focus on theatre by women for women, but this kind of theatre must become commonplace and not an anomaly. Theatre is about acceptance, so why can't women be accepted?



Cover Image Credit: JacobsPillow.org

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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