Images of women in theater and feminist plays-A A +A
Yagubyob sa Bulkan
Sunday, September 22, 2013
IT WAS so easy to watch an English feminist play ‘Vagina Monologues” but the Visayan version was far more sensational, provocative and revealing. It is somehow self-affirming, but too hurting to the skin that it almost peels itself alive.
It was a no-nonsense self-inflicting confrontation with some shame and awe put together. The stage portrayed women’s most vulnerable stories straight from vaginas, uterus and ovaries. The most personal have been put to public eye, the perfect platform for women to shout their pain, hunger, drought, dryness, itchiness, orgasms and infertilities.
Eve Ensler made us tell our stories, so women can be women in many forms, shapes and styles with the power to confront and better yet transform the cruel ways of the world that have oppressed women in all levels.
Eve Ensler popularized the Vagina Monologues, which was my first encounter of talking vaginas. Ensler gave women back their power, the power of the voice, the power of being heard, the power of being visible. It was a juicy hilarious and hurting experience listening to intimate women stories that were coming out of the bedroom scenes.
Sue-Ellen Case’s Feminism and Theater revealed the investigation of the invisible women playwright and how women were portrayed in written text by men. “Feminist critics began to perceive that in studying the representation of women in classical plays and histories it was of fundamental importance to distinguish between private and public life.” During the Greek and Roman theatre, women were restricted and removed from public life noted as attic morality. The representation of roles of women has been depicted with either the positive image of independence or misogynistic roles on stage. Women are mere accessories and objects of mockery, marriages and men even assumed female roles on stage like drag queens dressed in women clothes to maintain that seclusion of women from public affairs.
I think the men just have a very bad taste in this society and was such insecure rotten jerks (excuse the jargon) for barking on women when they have no better idea of themselves. I consider this a very low class and primitive society of abusive self-torturing men who depleted their own judgment by putting the insult on women. The economic power of women was equally futile deprived of the rights to own any private property that diminished women as merely a loan for marriage.
In the Catholic practice in the past, women were considered immoral when they practiced theater with ‘stage” having a social stigma as prostitution. Women were merely reduced to objects or costumes worn by men. The resisting reader is somehow a liberation tool and empowerment where women can draw out another perspective in justifying the notion that they have something to say about the patriarchal system and they can question the written text by men.
In those times, the society wasted the potential of women by not engaging them in the legitimate affairs of the state. Lesley Ferris wrote “in Greek comedy the physical attributes of the characters were exaggerated and made more grotesque both in mask and in the actor’s body.
The Dionysiac element of comedy, considered to be the source of all theatrical revel-making, publicly licensed the privilege of exposing those body parts normally hidden by conventional dress.” The phallus comic symbol of man used as costume on stage that I find revolting, disgusting, ugly, and not funny display male’s own humiliation for showing their dickhead in public. The woman has no value but a mere household commodity, which do not make Greek theater poetics respectable, but rather barbaric in nature.
Is it a repulsive society of narrow minded self-indulged men that created all these ideas of women assigned as second sex by which man-patronizing traditions has been redefined trough the years in the many discourses about feminism and other feminisms. The notion of dichotomy somehow has created a system that destroyed the wholeness of the masculine and the feminine instead it made a man the enemy of the woman or vice versa. But the war of the sexes has evolved in another context which we owe to some women who realized that its not about the men that makes life miserable, it is about a woman saying something about her own conditions and doing something about it.
The Antigone project was a refreshing piece of work and made it relevant post modern and present where the women character with a proactive platform rejects passive behavior, asserts her own identity and even risks her own life. The post-modern writers are saying “the political is personal” as a tipping point that gave women back her voice as her weapon. The power to choose is what Antigone is all about for me and that is inherent right of every woman regardless of the consequences. Sharon Friedman quoted “feminist readings of Antigone center on her willingness to act, to reject passivity even as a strategy for survival, and so to assert her on point of view even at the risk of her own life as her beliefs privilege religion over the state.” Antigone was a brave soul to even die for the choices she made. But how many women can really do this and live a full life even to choose death. How tragic, but that is the other side of the other endangered women species.
Let me indulge to the commonly held notion of women archetypes which made me see my other multidimensional self that also crosses to the male archetypes. Since biologically we are both male and female, it is a natural consequence that we try to work this out together.
In my culture, I grew up seeing women as active players in the community. Midwives welcome all newborn citizen of the land while they make sure that their families eat coconut milk based home cooked meals. The word feminism was non-existent until I was in college, and the books were not affordable or available in our households on these topics. It was non-existent until word I first remembered I thought only of being a woman when I participated in a gender workshop.
I slowly dig the buried painful story of my past of living is a traumatized dysfunctional family growing up with weak and alcoholic men. The context of how women are portrayed in the plays that we are reading, in some way or the other crosses culture and borders and reflect the universal picture of how women struggle in relationships and roles prescribed by their society.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 22, 2013.