McCullough on Women Playwrights

Mia McCullough, a playwright for Chicago Dramatists, has written a provocative piece on the website for Chicago Artists Resource, entitled “On Women in Playwriting” about sexism in theatre, and how this shapes the works and output of women playwrights.  It’s really worth a read.

Personally, I believe that this theatre sexism is a reflection misogynist  American culture in general, rather than just theater (to be fair, McCullough is only focusing about the theater world in this article).  My sister, Lisa, who is a lieutenant-colonel in the Army, actually teaches a course for military women on how to assert themselves and be noticed.  She mentioned to me that women are “trained” early to be much more reserved.  Even those women that are leaders in the community unconsciously possess traces of subserviency.  Examples she has given me: when men sit in a chair they spread themselves out, taking over the arm rests, while women sit with their hands inside the armrest, keeping their stature much more restrained and small; in meetings men tend, when speaking, to lean forward and confidently express their opinions, while women keep themselves sitting back in the chair, and can seem apologetic when offering their input, as if they’re interrupting the meeting.  Lisa also repeats McCullough’s observation that women also tend to apologize for silly things that men would never apologize for.

Here’s an excerpt from Mia McCollough’s article:

…. we are, still, programmed to be polite. We apologize for things, and censor ourselves far more than men do; and unfortunately this transfers to our art, and it shouldn’t. Art is not and should never be about politeness. Raw or refined, it should be a true expression of feeling. This will lead to another problem, I expect. When women stop being polite and really delve into the experience of being a woman, a whole lot of unpleasantness tends to rise to the surface.

 

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