At D&D this weekend, Vicky Graham, a young producer, called a session : Women on Top. (Personally, I would be fine with ‘women beside’ or ‘women there too’, but I actually admired the force of women on top and the push that suggests, especially from a younger woman.) I went to the session. As did a good 20/30-ish other women. And about three men. It’s Open Space, it’s fluid, but at any one time there were about three men in the discussion. And some of them were very there indeed. Which is brilliant. But, as it so often does, the conversation kept coming back to one thing – we’re not a minority. Why are we treated as a minority (special box-ticking, special women’s-work seasons). So why do programmers/producers/bookers/editors/literary managers/executive directors not notice that actually, in order to represent the world (yes, it is theatre, so to show a mirror to the world, perhaps?) that it’s important, vital, to make sure women characters are on stage and women’s voices are heard – as writers, as directors, as designers, as makers?
There were some great suggestions, Erica Whyman’s suggestion that we give women mentors to men in power was met with huge applause. (Then at least someone could point out when they’d blithely programmed another season with almost no women writers, almost no women directors, let alone buying into the theatre industry standard of having 70% men on stage in most productions.) Similarly, women might benefit from men mentors, seeing as how being male seems to be the prime requisite for success in our current world.
We talked around it, as we always do. Young women asked for feminism lessons, as they always do. We talked about how it needs us (women and the men who care) to STEP UP. And that the language we use to suggest this – have some balls, get ballsy, grow a pair – is ALSO male! I loved there were men not only in the discussion, but active in their own work to redress the balance. And I thought again, how heartbreaking it is, that this comes up year after year and doesn’t seem to be getting better. At all.
But just in case you don’t think there’s a problem, here’s some sobering stats from Women in Literary Arts
And this depressing Bechdel Test on the latest bunch of best-film Oscar nominees :
And still I rise?