As I look at my daughter I see the star quality in her eyes. I see how great she can really be. In one of the parts of our show we use a line from the movie Conan the Barbarian, where Charlotte is asked, "What is best in life?" To which she responds (in her best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women."
This is something we've gotten her to do on stage a number of times, always to huge applause.
My concern for her as she grows up and she begins dating and begins being concerned in relationships (or, as I should to say, since she is already interested in that kind of thing. Because, apparently there is a boy in Sunday school that she thinks is cute) my concern again comes that she will subdue her greatness to somehow fit into some kind of mold. The sort of made up mold of expectation about what a young lady should be imposed by either society or this hypothetical individual. This is something that I do not want to happen.
When I started this blog, a friend of mine (a performer that I have worked with often, even though we do not work together in the same show, we often find ourselves in the same places and working the same gigs), wrote to tell me how much she likes this blog and how, specifically, she wanted me to talk about the problem of female performers finding it necessary to subjugate themselves to male performers. Now, this tied in with my blog entry about the "Hot Trap," and with good reason. See, her concern is that being a fine performer in her own right she feel relegated to be nothing more than a sidekick to the male performers that she inevitably ends up working for or with.
Somehow, she finds herself relegated to that position no matter how it starts out, her ideas not taken seriously, and in the end not feeling that she is a part of the show in the part and parcel with which she should be. And, I understand what she means. I think my only girl could write an entire years worth of blogs maybe even a series of best-selling series of books all about how she feels I have relegated her to a secondary position that she should not be in.
It becomes that problem with the person who has the vision in the beginning, or at least thinks they are the visionary, start calling all of the shots as well. Especially - and this is where we get into the crux of the issue - when you are in a relationship with said person, and you take that secondary role to support that person's "vision," you end up often times finding yourself unable to break free of that role.
Now, this is predominantly my assumption based upon what I have been told by a variety of female performers who have partnered up with a male performer. And I do not believe this is just in entertainment, I believe this transfers both into business and marriage... and even dating as well. That somehow the female part of the duo ends up becoming the secondary performer. This is something that I am often concerned about and try to take an active part in not making happen. However, in the end, I am just a man, and I am afraid that often times it is without malice that I take this particular role of being bossy and relegating others to secondary position. It just turned out that way. I have a very strong personality, and it is easy to intimidate people into following along. And I don't mean intimidate in a bad way, necessarily, as my ideas are just so strong somehow I just end up winning out with my creative vision.
I want to open a dialogue about gender roles with everyone -- how much is nature... How much nurture? Societal training? Shrug -- you tell me...
Something that I feel very strongly about is the world of Burlesque. I, personally, an not comfortable with the idea or practice of me telling a burlesque dancer what they should or should not be doing. This is even in an educational sense, based off of choreography or any of the other things that I do know and have training in. I for one am supportive of the idea that modern Burlesque should be almost entirely female run. I don't think that it is right for a man to produce a burlesque show. I can see partnering with a female producer in order to create the product, but I cannot see trying to do it without any input from a female producer/Burlesque aficionado.
It is not a matter of feeling that everyone should "have their place," but more the idea of abandoning the traditional gender role of mail a producer, female performer. But it is not easy! Like it or not, it is still mostly a male run world out there, ladies, and it is up to you to make that change.
With that said, here is my dating tip for YOU, daughter of mine: Never let any man (or anyone) just boss you around. Establish the dynamics of your relationship - whatever it may be - from the beginning, and keep constant, frank communication to keep that balance going. Perhaps your choice will be to subjugate yourself, and that is fine - as long as it is YOUR choice! Never suffer a fool, kiddo...
And for YOU, son of mine: Do not be that guy. Treat your partners as equals. Establish your boundaries and keep communication open. Treat your employees (if that's what they are) well.
Actually, seeing as how my daughter will be running everything - that last piece of advice is for HER, too (as well as for you, gentle reader)!