Feminism: The Year of Empowerment

Feminism: The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of equality for both sexes.

by Erin, Emily, Emily and Izzy

Feminism is often mistaken as discrimination against men. It is a nationwide and common subject that both young and old have a passion for. However, the delusion that feminists view men as controlling, superior and suppressing is one that generally pushes men away from supporting such an ideal. In fact, with such perceptions, feminism is often disdained.

It cannot be stressed enough that we need feminism. Why? Because all around the world, girls are still belittled for wanting an education, and even some are denied one due simply tp their gender. Many would find it shocking that even in the UK, women are still being paid up to 22.8% less and do not have sufficiently equal rights in the workplace.

We see campaigns for equal rights worldwide. A couple of weeks ago, the Oscars was a widely watched event, with over 26.5 million viewers. Many nominees were shocked by the sexist comments, and as a result of that, women have been fighting back with their heads held high.

“I want people to know that this movement isn’t stopping. We’re going forward until we have an equitable and safe world for women. We want to take our activism and our power and change things for any woman, anywhere, working in any workplace.” said Mira Sorvino, on the Oscars’ red carpet.

Francis McDormand brought one of the most powerful moments throughout the show during her acceptance speech for Best Actress. She asked each female nominee, in every category, to stand. Once standing, she said: “Look around… we all have stories to tell.”

10 years ago, Tarana Burke started the ‘MeToo’ campaign; however, recently – when over 50 women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse – the movement re-emerged. Burke originally started the campaign with the message, ‘empowerment through empathy’. It encourages women to speak out about their experiences and prove that sexual harassment and abuse is more common than people think.

We can’t forget the women who have come forward to accuse Weinstein of assault and harassment—including Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Angie Everhart, Cara Delevingne, Heather Graham, Ashley Judd, and many more. These women may have been the turning point for women in society forever.

Examples of female empowerment and gender equality can even be seen in Penrice Academy. Both of our Vice Principals are female. This is extraordinary because it highlights how our world has improved to become closer to equality and how it is possible for women to have a higher role in our society.

Miss Gambier, one of the Vice Principals, talked about the pay gap for job sectors: “The public sectors are really good, like nurses and teachers because the salaries are set by the government and there is no disparity, really, between male and female pay, but I think in the private sector it still is really not good enough at all.”

This year’s school production, Romeo and Juliet, has not only promised astonishing acting but also the first male character played by a female in many years at Penrice. We interviewed Erin and she expressed her thoughts.

How do you feel about playing a character intended for male actors?

“Regardless of their gender, it should be acceptable to play whatever role. I feel it is important to note that in many plays it is rarely noted the gender of each character; for example, I am never explicitly referred as a ‘boy’ so I see it more as a female actress playing a role that is assumed to be male, and if anything, it’s fun to see how people react to that.”

Do you feel acting has changed over the years?

“When acting first began, women weren’t allowed on stage, even the female characters were played by males. Over the years this has improved. In 2018 you can see many great female actresses that encourage female empowerment.”

Do you think it’s important to let actors play different genders?

“I think it’s very important that actors know that they can play characters from any gender; when you are acting, it is purely acting. You are not actually the role you are playing: you become it and perform it. The character’s gender is irrelevant.”

Jude (Romeo) also commented:

“I think that it’s important that all of the cast roles get shared equally… female actresses can play the role just as well as a guy can.”

We also asked Miss Kleinman to comment on the casting choices.

Why did you decide to appoint a female as a male role?

“Shakespeare used cross-dressing performers all the time, therefore it fits nicely with the style that he would’ve been intending. Yes it was boys playing girls but why not the other way around? Erin is a versatile actress and the part went to the best person.”

Do you think a girl playing a boy role is as effective as a boy playing a boy role?

“I think if the actor is able to play a role effectively then that is really what matters, regardless of the gender of the actor. Drama allows people to become many different characters and different actors will always bring different qualities to a role.”

Picture : Erin- Benvolio (left) and Jude-Romeo (right)