I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an Awesome Lady ally. And I think one of the first steps in becoming an ally to the squad is by looking around and acknowledging the subtle gifts, the extra little pushes, that male artists get that female artists aren’t.
In a recent article I read about the ally movement for racial discrimination, the author “nance” (I looked, I couldn’t find her real name) talks about a funny moment in which her husband rides his bike home one day faster than ever before. He wonders briefly if finally all his months of riding have paid off, if his fitness prowess is seriously improved, as evidenced by his speed and agility during the ride. Soon though, he whizzes past a flag pole and sees the way the the flags are blowing. As he stops he realizes that a strong wind has been blowing at his back the entire time.
In other words, it’s not just his improved muscle tone that’s helping the ride go so exquisitely, it’s an invisible but forceful push that he at first didn’t even realize was there.
The author also references this somewhat “classic” article on the assumptions of white privilege in which the writer sets down a list of ways her skin color gives her advantage in situations, small and large, on a regular basis.
Inspired by these articles, and the corollary of them when it comes to gender privilege I came up with a little list of my own. I call it:
BEING A DUDE IN THEATER IS LIKE RIDING A BIKE WITH THE WIND AT YOUR BACK
STUFF THAT AWESOME LADY ALLIES MIGHT NOT REALIZE AND THAT THEY OUGHT TO BE AWARE OF
– If I am a director I am most often working on material written by someone of the same gender.
– If I am an actor I am generally in the majority gender of the cast.
– If I am a writer no one will read my play and assume I chose the subject matter based on my sex.
– If I am a designer I will attend production meetings in which my gender is not in the minority.
– It will not be assumed I want to work plays that have to do with my gender.
– If I do want to make work having to do with my gender it will not be assumed this is the extent of the kind of work I intend to make.
– If I eventually make work about my gender I do not have to worry about this defining how people will think of me as a creator for the rest of my career.
– No one assumes that a grant to work on projects about my gender should be linked with social change.
– If I bring up an issue with a gender stereotype I will not be told that I’m inserting my perspective into a piece that’s not about that.
– I am not often asked to play sexually provocative roles.
– I am rarely asked to wear revealing clothing onstage.
– If I am aggressive or meek no one will assume that quality comes by virtue of my gender.
– If I work collaboratively with people of the opposite sex, no one assumes they are the real driving force behind our work.
– If I direct a play with mostly or all women, I do not have to worry that people will assume I’m doing that just because of my gender.
– If I direct a play with mostly or all men, I do not have to worry if I’m being a traitor to artists of my gender.
– I do not have to worry that my successes or failures may reflect on other creators of my gender.
– I do not have to feel responsible to other artists of my gender at all.
– I can assume my gender will not be a factor against me getting a job.
– I can assume my gender will not be a hindrance to me acquiring roles in which the gender is not a major factor of their character.
– I can assume if I am cross-gender cast that people will look at this casting as an artistic choice and not a gender diversity handout.
– I can assume when talking about the artistic canon that it is made by people of the same gender as mine.
– I can assume that when people talk about the “Greats” of my field they will be the same gender as I am.
– I can assume that the most produced theatrical writer in the world is the same gender as I am.
– I can take an interest in classical works and not worry that my gender will prohibit me from getting work in this field.
– I can assume that works in the canon represent a diversity in type of roles for people of my gender.
– I can assume there are a wealth of lead roles for people of my gender.
– I can assume when learning about my medium I will be studying artists predominantly of my gender.
– I can assume my mentors will predominantly be the same gender as I am.
– It will not be surprising or impressive if I am good with the financial side of my company’s daily upkeep.
– It will not be impressive or remarkable if I go into sound, light or set design.
– I will never have to suspect I’m being paid less because of my gender.
– I don’t have to decide whether it is more advantageous to dress to accentuate my gender or not.
– If I’m an asshole, this trait will never be linked to my gender.
– I will never be called shrill.
– I will never be called bossy.
– I will never be called bitchy.
– No one assumes I’m not funny because of my gender.
– I don’t ever feel like I have to choose between being funny or sexy.
– No one automatically assumes I have interest in or will be good at working with children.
– I can assume that if I have kids people will not worry that my priorities as an artist will be impacted.
– It will not be automatically assumed that I will be motherly, nurturing or emotional supportive.
– If I am an actor, as I age I will likely be in more demand not less.
– It is not assumed because of my gender that I cannot carry heavy things or do manual labor.
– If I have no interest in manual labor or carrying heavy things (because I’m just not fucking interested in it) it is also not assumed that I feel this way because of my gender.
– When the gender parity going gets tough or the inequity feels too heavy to deal with on a given day, I don’t have to think about it.
And finally, this list is obviously just my own opinion because I intend to invoke the final privilege of the list:
– No one assumes I speak on behalf of all people of my gender. I can assume I only speak for me.
See you tomorrow allies!