Too many of them perhaps?

There are indeed – at least historically there have been – entirely fair and reasonable complaints about gender equity. It’s perhaps a little less so these days – we all in the rich world are the best off human beings that have ever existed. And more especially, women in today’s rich countries are the most privileged females who have ever existed. Both in any absolute terms and also in relation to the men in the society surrounding them. Sure, this doesn’t mean things are perfect but we’re sweating the details now, if even that.

Then there are people like Julia Pascal who wants to tell us all how irredeemably sexist the performing arts are. Something of a surprise to those who, as I do, have grandchildren in the training system for that world. The biggest problem with, say, dance is getting teenage boys to come off the football field and do the sort of clog dancing that doesn’t involve other peoples’ shins. Vastly more, multiples of, girls travel along the education path that leads to the stage than do boys.

Sure, this doesn’t mean that female directors outnumber male, but that’s not the part of this screed I regard as ludicrously stupid, this part is:

There are structural reasons for marginalisation. Drama schools educate female graduates to expect lower employment levels than their male peers. The actors’ union, Equity, the majority of whose members are female, rejects calls for equal representation.

How gloriously unobservant you’ve got to be to put those observations together into those subsequent sentences.

Imagine we had an entirely and wholly gender equal world here. Including in the number of women, number of men, employed in each and every acting enterprise. From the Hollywood movie through to the Lower Twerton Am Dram production of “The Merry Wives of Widcombe,” all is entirely gender equal.

The vast majority of those in the training system to get into the professional ranks are female. The profession has always had many more semi-employed on the fringes of it than fully employed at the centre of it. Even the majority of those who gain the basic professional qualification, the union card, are female. At which point, what’s going to happen even in an entirely gender equal world?

Yup, that’s right, the women are going to have lower employment levels than the men, aren’t they?

This, this one specifically, is thus a ludicrous complaint about gender equity, isn’t it?

As to the rest of it, Julia Pascal is calling for quotas. Ah, yes, quotas. It’s amazing how it’s always the mid-career and aiming for the top woman who insists that there should be quotas on that road to the top, isn’t it? Can’t help but thinking that there’s one specific career being thought about here rather more than the world in general.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. “Drama schools educate female graduates to expect lower employment levels than their male peers.” There is no better way to prepare students for underperformance than to teach that their destiny is victimhood of systemic bias, though I don’t concede that good drama schools actually teach this.

    This business ranges from big business to small business to amateur troupe. Successfully imposing equity/equality (and especially a more formal dispute resolution procedure) will cut more low rungs away from yet another career ladder.

  2. “With this abnegation of female flair, audiences are robbed of the full human story. These audiences are 65% female.”
    Let’s say we accept Jessica’s narrative that it’s all structural and that audiences are being hard done by. Jessica’s solution is for more structure (and rather arbitrary structure to boot). Does anyone seriously believe that will increase the quality of the product for audiences? Unlikely to my mind. So say we accept jessica’s problem but not her solution.

    Artists are good at subverting the current order. It’s part of what it means to be an artist. They do have to keep in touch with what’s appreciated but the ones who tread water in the conventional pond aren’t the memorable ones. Do away with governmental arts funding. That’ll bring the current structure falling down. Let the best artists emerge organically at the whim of that audience (which is 65% female after all)