Sunday, February 28, 2010

using my powers for good

Well, I don't know about the tail end of 2009, but I haven't been blogging since January in large part because my life was eaten up be rehearsals; I was in a community theater musical, and it was such fun! It was Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate which, as you may well know, is a musical about a bunch of actors putting on a musical rendition of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew.

My partner R. convinced me to audition with her, and I'm so glad she did...I was nervous about my vocal shortcomings, but community theater is very forgiving, and with great musical direction and plenty of encouragement, I managed to overcome my doubts and sing my little solo with some distinction.

It was a novel experience for me, whose most recent prior theater adventure was in middle school. I had a some nerve-wracking moments when the costumers announced that they were renting Shakespearean costumes for us. I had visions of snug tights, a la the old MGM movie version. I spent some time fretting about what I would do if it turned out we WERE wearing tights. I could always dig up some sort of packer with which to pad my underpants, but I don't even know if I have one anymore. I don't feel the need to wear one on a regular basis, and am not used to doing so; with all the tap-dancing in the show, I was a bit worried about the logistics of even trying. I felt a bit trapped. I've pretty much made peace with my smaller-than-average package, but I am not particularly eager to showcase said tiny package on stage!

Fortunately, we ended up with sort of flow-y pants, and the issue of tights was skipped, but I had more than one angsty conversation with R. about it. Here you can see the end result: me all dressed up in my Shakespearean finery, playing the part of Hortensio, one of the 3 suitors.
Lack of sizeable bulge: unnoticeable!

Anyway, the truly interesting part of the whole experience came when the local paper did a small write-up about the show, and I was interviewed by the reporter. She asked me about the show, and I talked some about what a terribly sexist show it is. The music is fabulous, but the underlying premise of Shrew and thus of KMK is how "uppity" women need to learn their places and stop being so feisty and independent and just hurry up and get married already.

R. and I had talked about this throughout rehearsals, and she prompted me to mention it to the reporter, and I'm glad I did- there was a nice little quote in the paper about hoping that audiences would enjoy the songs but think critically about the message.

I think it's really important for feminist analysis to be done visibly and publicly by men, and it's something I'm really committed to as part of my manhood. Feminism is not just a women's issue, and while it's frustrating that I sometimes get taken more seriously about important issues now that I'm manifestly masculine, on this matter, I relish my role as an ally. The more that people hear men speaking about issues of gender equality, hopefully, the more we can get away from the identity politics that shoehorns sexism into being something for only women to deal with.

It's a right and a responsibility that comes with the male privilege now, and I try to live up to it as best I can.