We’ve been talking to some older women recently, to get their input into An Odd Occasion. As a woman of a certain age, myself, I’ve been reflecting on what they told me and I’ve come up with a list of 10 top tips for women on getting older.
Please don’t be silly about this – it’s not scientific or anything. It’s New Year’s Eve and I wanted to share some wisdom. Here you go:
1. You don’t have to start wearing beige.
2. Please try to forget about whether it’s ‘inappropriate’.
3. Don’t grieve for chivalry – it’s dead, and that’s not a bad thing.
4. You haven’t ‘had a fall’, you’ve just fallen over – you’ll probably be ok.
5. You can do whatever you want now (nobody’s really looking).
6. Lady Gaga is alright.
7. Yes, fat is still a feminist issue.
8. In fact at this rate we’re going to need quite a few more waves of feminism before we actually achieve equality.
9. No, we’re not sure Beyonce is the answer.
10. Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think.
Happy New Year!
5 brave women put themselves in my hands on a Friday night in April. I had promised them a fun night of dressing up and discussion around ideas about gender, femininity and space – and I’d also told them I wanted to dress them up as drag queens. Having played and performed in drag as Mysti Valentine for 7 years, dressing as a drag queen is something I now take for granted – it’s become a normal thing to do, part of my family life, mundane (sometimes even a bit boring). I have long since forgotten any initial strangeness I felt, but I know it is an odd thing to put on so much make up and such ‘feminine’ clothing and props, yet to look and feel like a man (in drag).
We had a laugh. Mostly, we had fun. There were one or two moments when these women seemed slightly uncomfortable with the version of themselves they’d created – some more than others. But we were so busy dressing up we didn’t get much time to talk about how it felt.
Here are some pictures…
We created a performance installation at West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Transform event a few weeks ago, as part of our work towards An Odd Occasion. These pictures give you some sense of what we did…
Come along and meet ‘Jenn De Fuch’ and friends in the foyer of West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds at the late night live art bistro, after the cabaret show by Scottee and friends, 10.30pm onwards on Sat 29th March. We’ve got badges.
We’ll also be popping up at Chol Theatre’s Coffee House Nights at Queenies, next door to the Lawrence Batley Theatre, on Thursday April 10th…
This is us gearing up for An Odd Occasion in Bradford in June.
Talk to us. Here, there, everywhere, we’d love to hear your thoughts…
I’ve started this tumblr blog to record some images for An Odd Occasion.
Some are photos I’ve snapped when I’ve noticed gendered behaviours or things eg the different ways things are sold to male/female consumers.
Some are screenshots from my Facebook stream – this is the marketing & messages I’m bombarded with daily.
Thanks, everyone, for your input so far on this. Nobody, so far, has disagreed with my premise that the variety and diversity of words loaded with gender and aimed at women are far more varied and specific than the vocabulary we have for describing men.
With your input the list now reads as follows:
not just a pretty face
woman of a certain age
asking for it
mutton dressed as lamb
bit on the side
piece of skirt
right little madam
‘strong female character’
I’m sure this isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a useful starting point to illustrate the point I think I’m trying to make, and to use in the performance I’m making. So thanks very much. x
There are so many words and phrases used to describe women (and girls).
Some of them are intended to be positive, flattering and complementary.
Some of them are not. Some have the intention of insult. And some of those are really quite ugly.
Some of them are funny – and some of them might have been funny once, but that joke isn’t funny anymore – and some of them you just have to laugh at, or else you might cry… or worse still, get angry.
There are some similar words and phrases for men (and boys), but they tend to lack the variety, diversity and inventiveness of the terms loaded with gender and aimed at women.
Here’s a few examples:
Mutton dressed as lamb
Asking for it
Woman of a certain age
Right little madam
I’m going to post this on the usual social media channels and ask you to add to the list. This is not about being exhaustive or definitive. It’s not really even about judging the value or lack of merit of any of these words or phrases. It’s just about noticing and thinking about it. We might use some of these words and phrases in our show.
I’ll add a PART 2 to this post with other people’s contributions.
An Odd Occasion is about the ordinary and the everyday. We want to find out a bit more about you – about what you wear, how you look, and what you think and feel about that. We’ve written a survey to find out about that and we’d love you to take part in it here.
Who Am I Now?
I manipulate my own image at will and inhabit multiple identities.
Sometimes I change my identity several times a day.
Sometimes this is uncomfortable.
Often this is fun.
I am Stella’s Mummy.
I am Ann and David’s daughter.
I am an artist.
I am six foot one.
I am a worrier.
I am Ivan’s Mum.
I am a professional.
I am Gideon’s wife.
I am forty-two years old.
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
I played with the idea of who I would be if the possibilities were endless.
I decided that I would be a drag queen.
What does it mean to be whoever you want to be?
Is it what’s inside that counts?
Or is image everything?
What about the things outside our control?
What about other people’s perceptions?
My image is reflected back to me by the culture that I live in.
Maybe this is a female obsession.
A woman is constantly watched and judged.
A man can move through space, unwatched, swinging his arms feely, taking up the whole seat with his legs wide apart, while a woman sits next to him, legs crossed, apologetic, trying to hide beside him.
Can a woman be unattractive and still be successful?
Can a woman be taken more seriously as she gets older?
Can a woman be powerful outside a male frame of reference? Or will she be seen as either a ‘ball-breaker’ or ‘emotional’?
Does talking about this stuff turn me into a sad stereotype?
Am I banging on?
Or am I slowly turning into my mother?
And if I am is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
Is it inevitable or can I change it?
Who am I now?