My partner likes a good rant, and one that really gets him fired up is the misuse of the word equality.
Equality is based on us all being the same, with the same needs and qualities.
Equity, like equality, promotes fairness but with the understanding that we are all different and therefore cannot be the same. (Paul will explain with full expression of passion upon request)
With that in mind as a where we are today means that our options are open, we have many more paths to take and explore, but I do feel there is still more acceptance of the choices our male counterparts make over ours as women. And our natures certainly don't help in leveling the playing field.
Family or Career, that's the big one, that's the one that seems to divide and could be conquering. If you're a mother, you've apparently opted out of career pursuing, you'll wait until the kids are in full time education before getting back in the game. If you are powering on head first into the career, you have to make weak jokes about how you can't even look after yourself let alone a kid and that you don't think you're the maternal type. But why being one should be a case of denying the other? Why do we feel we don't deserve or can't achieve both? And why was I advised by a successful female artist, that to succeed in this game, I shouldn't have a partner or a child? (To which I replied, "Too late, I have both")
You see, what we do is reinforce these attitudes of oppression upon ourselves. We are told, believe and reconfirm to one another that we can't have it all, that we don't deserve it all. Surely that is wrong?
Another element of the equity/equality debate that came to light was that we are not Men, and that is okay!
We don't really want to be, do we? In another meeting with a professional woman in theatre, I was told to be successful I had to 'perform confidence like the men do'. I had to come across in the same 'way' as a man to be considered serious about my ambition and future as a theatre director.
A very clever and well informed performer I work with, once explained 'communication currencies'. As in we all have different ways we offer and receive information we are given by those around us. There are many types but the two main types are doers and talkers. And very broadly, men are talkers, women are doers. When these currencies are mixed it leads to a lack of understanding.
For example in a relationship, a man says to a woman 'I love you' everyday but the woman doesn't feel loved because his actions never show it. Alternatively, a woman show's love by doing things for a man every day but never says 'I love you' so the man feels unloved.
So if men are talkers and women are doers but the communication currency of theatre is 'talk', we are at a natural disadvantage, this is where equity needs to make an appearance. We're not the same, I've been developing practice for 6 years, wanting to get my ideas clear before shouting to the world, it's largely gone unnoticed because of this. But if I'd been intrinsically male with my approach I'd have been shouting a long time ago about what I was going to do, way ahead of actually doing it.
So what should we do? Should we change our ways to offer the same exchange rates? Or should we challenge the industry to accept both currencies? I have a suspicion it's going to be a bit of both. But just being aware of it would be a great start I think.
My final point. We have many differences, but our differences are not weaknesses.
We are emotional, maternal, sociable, caring, protective, sensitive, hormonal, instinctive and loyal to what we love. This isn't to say men aren't these things, they very much are, but society penalises them for these qualities too. If you care does that mean you're a push over? If you are emotional does that mean you can't achieve great things? If you are loyal does that mean you're not going anywhere?
What I realised is that for the first 6 years I tried to pretend to be a male theatre maker, those who know and have worked with me will vouch that I wasn't very good at this as essentially my style has always been somewhat maternal. But it affected my way of thinking beyond the rehearsal room, I would doubt myself for this way of working and thought that I wasn't directing if I wasn't shouting at people or using a thesaurus to prove my points. I thought I was not intelligent enough to succeed because I would be too passionate about the work to articulate the argument. But what I realised is that it was indeed these qualities that make a natural theatre maker, and that no-one should doubt these aspects just because it's not the image of success we've been given.
The idea that my experiences of sexism within the industry appear to have been indeed perpetuated by women has to be something to be considered noteworthy, and where noted, changed.