[ Class assignment written for a Gender Studies class in Theatre. Needless to say, it was in response to a class full of women who trash-talked men whenever they had the opportunity. Guess they got to me.]
Fall of 2001
Consider the following document a call out to the male sex of this world to engage in a battle, a war of sorts, to redefine masculinity,. In fact, the goal should be to eradicate masculinity completely and settle on the biological man as a human, a part of the homo sapiens race, and equal to that of the opposite sex.
I . facade
From the beginning of time, men have been given certain roles and have been expected to live up to them. The worst thing a man could do is to not reach those expectations. To be ridiculed and put down to a level where women reside is considered the norm of punishment.
But what men do not realize is that they are punishing themselves by trying to be above women. The pressures put on men to keep up are unbearable and on par with women’s troubles to maintain the perfect feminine figure.
This facade needs no introduction: strong, lean, tall, well endowed, can be in bed for hours with a woman without falling asleep, good with the hands, mechanics, carpentry, drive a standard transmission car, get the beautiful girl, have a son, be wealthy, support the family, and so on.
We know what needs to be done to achieve this facade, and an idea of how to achieve it (if not, put up the local issue of Men’s Health, Exercise for Men, GQ, and all the other printed crap directed at men).
Why? Why is it so important to be macho? Why must we be above women?
A hierarchal society does not work. People having power over another group leads to problems, namely the group without power wanting power. Conflict does not solve the problem. Conflict is the problem. Putting men above women leads to them wanting to be above us and struggling to reach that level while men don’t allow it to happen.
The feminist movement started the solution- equality of the sexes by putting women in positions of power (whether in the family, society, business or government). But this is not the way to go. Power needs to be abolished before pure equality can happen.
II . sauniq
There’s a word I am learning to say
(n.) 1. Bone; 2. Namesake
we share the same name: we are built of the same bone.
I hold this word sauniq
in my mouth, patiently
waiting for it to melt
like snow upon my tongue
like spring time.
– Lisa Goenther
“Sauniq” – Urban Coyote, p 30
It will be along time before the human race recognizes everyone for what they really are-
We are of the same bone structure, suffer the same physical problems and limitations. A man from New Guinea cannot produce a baby in a womb. Likewise, a woman in Canada will never be able to spread her seed to another wman to form a child. There are
for being a man or a woman.
They balance eachother out- for every negative there is a positive.
It is an endless argument to find out which is better, man or woman
and it will never be solved completely.
I envy both the man who decided that he was above the rest and the woman who gave in to this man. Risky and brave of them both. It was er through this act. Before it, they recognized sauniq the way the Inuit do.
The impossible task of reversing this is through recognition and the best way to do that is through didactic tools other than formal education. School, college, parents- any form that has a being in control over the other. A child does nnot have power over a parent; they are told what to do or not to do, and tell them the consequence if they don’t follow their suggestion.
The other tools available? Advertising, terrosim, and the arts.
iia . advertising
Advertising is not a formal education. A message is displayed, but does not have a conclusion. Put it into mathematical terms.
An ad shows “2+2.” It is up to us to determine if that means “2+2=4” or randomness or anything imagineable. Formal education would say, “2+2=4, nothing else is possible and if you say anything but 4, you’re wrong.”
Advertising makes you think which is why it is so powerful.
iib . terrorism
Terrorism is a reversal.
Whereas advertising says, “2+2,” terrorism says, “4.” You decide how that conclusion was drawn, When the World Trade Centre Twoers were destroyed, the terrorists did not give any warning. They never said, “2+2=4. You gave us the 2+2, we supplied the 4.” They said nothing and allowed us to create our hypothesis on how/why an act occurred. The Americans immediately blamed Osama bin Laden because he was a likely target with no proof. The same happened with the Oklahoma bombing, but it turned out to be an American.
Terrorism is just as powerful as advertising.
iic . performance
The ultimate tool is performance.
Performance may show “2+2” and allude to 4 (or the reverse), but it has to give a definite answer. It may strongly suggest 4 and hint that 3 is wrong, but outside of theatre there is no test to discover whether what they thought was the equation is right or not. It is up to the audience to discover the path that leads to a complete equation or equations within a performance piece.
With this in mind, I have set out these guidelines in regards to the display of gender in performance:
III . Performance
A MANifesto performance shall strive for the following things:
i) Equality of the characters/roles within the performance and the involvement of the production crew. There will be no hierarchy- the director is the group or is willing to compromise with the rest. No one will be made more significant than another person, even if their role is not as large. Ensemble work will be a majority and not a minority form of performance.
ii) Equality of the audience. Poor will sit beside rich, men beside women, kids beside those who do not have kids. The audience will be on the same playing level as the performance whenever possible. The actors are not on a pedestal for pure enjoyment, and the audience doesn’t belong above the actors. All are human beings and all forms of structure should be destroyed. New theatres will have to be constructed in a circular or rectangular fashion for the audience to sit at.
iii) Phallic symbols shall be used in an absurd way. The will be laughed at, ridiculed, ignored. Recreating them to give them a meaning which is worthless rather than powerful. The same shall be done with female imagery (breassts, the womb) to reak the ideologies that control our lives.
iv) Costumes shall be nongendered. Single colours shall grace the costumes, with colour not being specific to gender (males can wear pink, womnen can wear blue, etc). Period costumes will be allowed, but only with major compromises so that the garb is recognizeable without creatiing specific gender roles for those people (ie men will wear suits, minus the tail coats- or shall wear suits with tails that act like a train of a wedding dress.
iv) The exploration of manipulation and the power of it. Outlets include: messages through text, media, music and gesture, space relationships between audience and actors, design of space, costumes, ambience, and brutal/subtle displays of gender relationships.
Five guidelines. Why five? The answer lies in this text, or is five the answer the question to be found?