Open Menu

Presidential Opinions: Time's Up for the men's club

“Shall we have womanly times?
Or shall we die?”

A question first asked by the great novelist and screenwriter, Ian McEwan, in the 1980s, although nowadays it seems more pertinent than ever.
What are we to do in a world gone mad but to redress the balance across the genders.

Patriachy. I’ll say that again – patriarchy. The curse of our present and if we are not very, very careful the even more terrible curse of
our future.

The Harvey Weinsteins of this world were – are – only able to exist because of a centuries-old hierarchy based on whether you had a penis or not. Or should I say more accurately on whether you were born with a penis and decided to stick with it and reap all the harvests available to you simply because you had one. It is a club where the one and only rule is keeping the power in your own hands (please excuse the image that might have conjured for you!) and out of the hands of women, who they fear and therefore at best ignore and at worst revile. The war we are waging is a mighty one and the patriarchy ain’t going down without a fight.

Please don’t get me wrong – I know there are men and boys out there who are marching with us every step of the way, and their support and understanding is a wonderful thing and greatly appreciated. These guys get it – that the way forward to a better world for everyone is to get women into positions of power everywhere including in our own industry.

I’m currently working at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester where Sarah Frankcom is the artistic director. The play is Death of a Salesman where the four other actors in my on-stage family are black – I’m the token white person! One of our cast is Portuguese, one is mixed race, and two of our company identify as disabled. Everywhere in the building there are signs of the absolute commitment to inclusivity and respect for all. I have worked in many places where great efforts are being made but this is the best ever and I don’t think it’s an accident that the AD is a woman. More, please!

On only a slightly different note – I went to see Adam, a play by Frances Poet, based on the true story of a young man born into a female body in Egypt around 1990 and his journey as a refugee to Glasgow and ultimately his transition into his true self. Talking to Adam after watching him play himself in the show I was struck once again by how healing and transformative our industry can be at its best. The show ended in breathtaking fashion with a song sung by the Adam World Choir – a global digital community of transgender and non-binary people from the USA to Russia, Denmark to Slovenia, Australia to the Netherlands coming together to sing in unison for Adam. Find the choir at: www.adamworldchoir.net

Finally, as many of you will already know, Malcolm Sinclair has agreed to become one of our trustees. This is great news for the future of our union.