Now they could just be trying to win an argument and figure that is the best way to dismiss me without actually listening to my points.
Or maybe they just don't understand abstract principles of fairness, and so can't imagine that I would have any other reason for being unhappy with the unbalanced gender representation except pure self-interest. Maybe they themselves only care about their own careers and really don't give a damn about abstract principles.
For the record, I never expected one of my plays to be included. I've only had one play in the past five years reviewed by nytheatre.com, and it was an adaptation of the novel "Jane Eyre" so why would I have something included? And to be perfectly honest, my impression of the way things work with Martin Denton's ventures is that you have to be on friendly terms with Martin Denton himself. Certainly many of the playwrights who are listed on Indie Theatre Now also do reviews on nytheatre.com. I have to work for a living at a full-time job, and just don't have time to schmooze.
And in fact, I'm sure that works against lots of women - things get done in the theatre world as part of a social club. Some people have claimed I said Martin Denton was a sexist - I don't think I ever have. But I do think that men have more time on their hands to schmooze. And that's how you get ahead, by schmoozing.
And then there's the issue of fairness. If black people made up half the population and only 17% of plays produced were by black people, you'd rightly suspect that bigotry was involved. Well women do make up 50% of the population yet only 17% of plays produced are by women. So anybody who cares about opposing bigotry must have an issue with the current practices.
There is one major factor that can account for at least 20% of the lopsided ratio - the fact that Western Civilization has been a patriarchy since before the ancient Greeks, and so there is a legacy of sexism that only started to break down in any meaningful way in the late 20th Century. When Aristophanes was writing, there were no female playwrights; when Shakespeare was writing, there were none, and when Shaw was writing there were maybe a handful. So unless a theatre company only does work from about 1975 on, there is an inevitable lopsided ratio due to the effects of extreme patriarchy.
But if you're publishing brand-new plays, you don't have that as an excuse.
Of course fighting for the production and publication of plays by women is also in my self-interest, but not only, and as I said, I never expected to be included on Denton's site.
Maybe I'm so annoyed because this year's Dramatists Guild conference focused to a fair degree on female playwright parity - including this great keynote speech by Julia Jordan. I watch this and then a couple of months later there's yet again an example of a ridiculous lopsided ratio. I would submit that politely requesting that theatre organizations produce more plays by women has done almost nothing. How much longer are we supposed to patiently wait? Since women make up the majority of the live theatre audience, I think the next step will have to be boycotts.
But whenever women stand up for themselves about an issue that is not life-and-death you hear the usual Richard Dawkins harangue - a woman mentioned in a video blog clip that she had been nervous to be in an elevator at a hotel at 3AM, especially when the man invited her back to his room. Dawkins went apeshit and pulled the old STFU you have no real reason to complain. Dawkins wrote a letter to an imaginary "Muslima" in order to mock Rebecca Watson's concerns:
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
So you see, unless somebody's cutting up your lady parts you have no reason to complain.
That is exactly the argument that a woman made to me a few days ago in response to my complaints about the Martin Denton site.
I say since nobody is chopping off our lady bits, why not spend our time, lady bits intact, to do something positive for women.
Now luckily there is more to theatre then arguing with people. My actor friend Renee, who recently performed in my MISTRESS ILSA sent me an email today that said: "I auditioned for Lisa Lax agency today with the Mr. Rogers scene you wrote! They loved it and asked who wrote it :) fingers crossed"
How cool is that? Although the "Mr. Rogers scene" from MISTRESS ILSA, is quite possibly the most disturbing thing that I, or anybody has ever written:
(Mistress Ilsa exits. Trixie tries to read her Harry Potter book but the mask is in the way. Reverend Hartford enters. He is dressed as Mr Rogers.)
(Trixie drops her book in surprise. She starts speaking in her normal voice but remembers and lowers her voice.)
And just what are you supposed to be?
Can’t you tell? I’m your old friend Mr. Rogers. I need some punishment. I’ve been doing some bad things.
I don’t believe it.
(Trixie is well and truly freaked out at the idea of punishing someone dressed as Mr. Rogers.)
Oh yes. You know the puppet Queen Sarah Saturday? I used her to masturbate with.
(Trixie exits to go get Mistress Ilsa. Reverend Hartford remains and hums “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” Mr. Rogers theme song, to himself. Mistress Ilsa enters followed by Trixie. She stops for a moment stunned by the idea of Mr. Rogers appearing in her establishment, even though she knows it’s the Reverend Hartford.)
Oh you can call me Mr. R today, Mistress Ilsa.
As you know, virtually anything goes, here in my dungeon. But this is the one thing I don’t allow. Nobody may dress up as Mr. Rogers while they are here.
I didn’t get the costume here, I brought it from home.
You must go home and change. When you return, you will have an extra long session with Mistress Trixie, who is ready to whip the living shit out of you.
Yes I am.
What? This is an outrage! I have always wanted to be beaten while dressed as Mr. Rogers, dammit! I pay good money here.
Please Mr. H., it is the only thing we don’t allow.
Well! You know there are other places I can go to. There’s a new girl in town . They call her The Snake. They say that anything goes at her dungeon - for real. I think I’ll just go to her from now on.
I’m sorry you feel that way, but some things are sacred.
Some things are sacred? Hah!
(Reverend Hartford exits.)
We didn't include any photos of actor Doug Rossi in his Mr. Rogers get-up for our show publicity because we didn't want to give it away. But the audience didn't have as big a reaction as I expected, alas.
The Mr. Rogers scene is set up earlier in the play with this exchange between Mistress Ilsa and Trixie:
Look, you’ll see alot of this kind of thing, so get used to it. You’re going to see men who are big and important: CEO’s, attorneys general, diplomats, ministers, rabbis, all of them. The pinnacles of success and the pillars of society. They want to be whipped or they want to lick your boots. And you learn all about their lives. How they’re cheating on the wife - by the way, none of them considers this cheating because we only whip them, we don’t have sex with them; how they’re spending the money they made from insider trading. It opens your eyes to just how ugly the world is. There was only one true good man - and he is no longer on this Earth.
You mean Jesus?
No I mean that guy on TV. He’s American but they had him in Latvia too. The one who sang “won’t you be my neighbor.”
Yeah, that’s him.
Well, he liked to play with puppets.
But not in a weird way. He was trying to help kids.
Yeah. He was like one of my best friends when I was little. I used to come home from school and put him on the TV and then I wasn’t afraid to be in the house by myself anymore.
I was not sorry when he died. I used to be afraid that one day he would show up and ask to be whipped. And I would not be able to deal with that.
Wow, that would be strange.
I didn’t want him to die of course. But you know what I mean.
That bit is taken directly out of my own head. I thought Mr. Rogers was a great guy - I blogged about it a few years ago - and I used to be afraid it would turn out he was secretly a big pervert. So I was really relieved when he died and no reports of perversion came out. Not that I wanted him to die.
But when Reverend Hartford shows up dressed as Mr. Rogers, the audience has some idea of how much this freaks out Mistress Ilsa and Trixie. Whee!