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Subject: "'Invisible Women' discussion" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Bruceadmin

05-03-02, 05:33 PM (GMT)
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"'Invisible Women' discussion"
 
  
This thread is for discussion of Susie Crow's "Invisible Women" piece in the March Ballet.co magazine:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_02/mar02/sc_invisible_women.htm

Hope you have found the piece stimulating and please feel free to comment on it and/or interact with others thoughts below....


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion katharine kanter 05-03-02 1
  RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion AEHandley 05-03-02 2
     RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion Jonathan S 06-03-02 3
         RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion AEHandley 06-03-02 5
             RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion Jonathan S 07-03-02 8
     RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion Jim 06-03-02 4
         RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion AEHandley 06-03-02 6
             RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion Estelle 07-03-02 7
                 RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion Jim 07-03-02 9
                 RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion Viviane 07-03-02 10

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katharine kanter

05-03-02, 06:36 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #0
 
   "Or are younger generations of women, now under constant siege from pressures to be thinner, more beautiful, more desirable, more mechanically perfect, more inhibited and constrained than ever? "

With accent on the words "more inhibited and constrained".

Miss Crow has said it, in a nutshell.

Recently, a French Police Commissar investigating a spate of gang-rapes and similar acts perpetrated by youths aged 11 to 15, told the press that his team of officers have been gob-smacked by the "incredible intensity of misogyny among youths today". He said there was a complete lack of any form of respect for woman, that reminded him of primitive peoples.

There is a direct relation between that remark by the Commissar, and Miss Crow's.

Look no further than Hollywood, television, "adult" comic books, and Video Games. Woman is less than nothing. Apart from the very privileged, children today have no parents. Their father is unemployed, or about to be. Their mother is out working as a cashier for less than she would get on benefit. When their parents come back, they goggle at television too.

Children are brought up by electronic entertainment. And they are deeply resentful of their parents for leaving them so alone. The electronic world is their real family, and the values of "Silence of the Lambs", are their values.

That is where the problem that we face in the ballet today comes from. Woman is less than nothing.

But artists are amongst the most important people in society. Why do they not protest more ? Why did people agree to go out in the new production of "Un Ballo in Maschera", and sit on the potty with their trousers down ? WHY DID THEY DO THAT ? No man, no real man, in my book, would ever do that.

It is a crying shame.

If we cannot get people to stand up for their own dignity, as a human being, when they belong to the most educated and privileged circles in our society, we should not wonder that woman be trampled upon.

Or, as Lis Jeppesen said, "The subject of Bournonville is beauty and love"...


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AEHandley

05-03-02, 09:53 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #0
 
   I have to say that this isn't really a ballet issue - it's a life issue. The phenomenon is just as evident in all areas of performing and creative arts and in most other careers. Women interpret, men create is the general rule. I feel that although of COURSE there are counterexamples there is a general tendency in the female character to take material, ideas, plans, projects and turn them into workable things, whereas the male tendency is to impose the will on an idea, stamp his name all over it and give it to a woman to make practical. Sorry, this isn't very eloquently put and will also make a lot of people scream out loud, but this is the rough gist of my lifetime's observations.


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Jonathan S

06-03-02, 08:50 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #2
 
   ...there
>is a general tendency in
>the female character to take
>material, ideas, plans, projects and
>turn them into workable things,
>whereas the male tendency is
>to impose the will on
>an idea, stamp his name
>all over it and give
>it to a woman to
>make practical.

I think there's a lot of truth in this, and Germaine Greer says similar things in The Whole Woman, talking about the difference between men's creativity and women's.

However, I think people can have what we consider 'male' or 'female' character traits independent of gender. Susie's phrase "chaotic and fluid multitasking" applies much more to the way I and many other men think and work. Only recently I found myself letting off steam with the phrase "why is it that men don't seem to understand the concept of work unless it results in a 60ft statue of Stalin?".

To this extent (and this is a side-issue, I admit) I don't think it's relevant to draw parallels between the ballet world, and the world in general. Ballet dancers are an elite group, with a distinct subculture in which gender roles and expectations are quite different to those in the outside world.

All the same, it is odd that there are so few female directors or choreographers. But I would question (and I'm crouching for cover here) whether this is actually a matter of choice rather than discrimination? Is it perhaps a masculine trait to want to be 'king of the castle', to rise up the ladder for the sake of it, or to haggle for rank?


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AEHandley

06-03-02, 09:42 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #3
 
  
>To this extent (and this is
>a side-issue, I admit) I
>don't think it's relevant to
>draw parallels between the ballet
>world, and the world in
>general. Ballet dancers are an
>elite group, with a distinct
>subculture in which gender roles
>and expectations are quite different
>to those in the outside
>world.
>
Hmmm - I would hope that most professions were also an elite groups. Each is a different elite, but still an elite. Gender roles and expectations in my field aren't the same as those in, for example, banking or law. THe parallel I was really thinking of, though, was music (practically no female composers or conductors and please don't tell me I'm wrong because I can think of at least 4 of each without even pausing in my typing but you know what I mean!)


>All the same, it is odd
>that there are so few
>female directors or choreographers. But
>I would question (and I'm
>crouching for cover here) whether
>this is actually a matter
>of choice rather than discrimination?
>Is it perhaps a masculine
>trait to want to be
>'king of the castle', to
>rise up the ladder for
>the sake of it, or
>to haggle for rank?

This was one of the traits that I was thinking of - I have noticed that it is far more common for men to say "What do I have to do to get promoted" whereas women will say "What do I have to do to make this work better".

(stereotyped generalisations but stereotypes exist for a reason)



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Jonathan S

07-03-02, 07:08 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #5
 
   >The parallel I was
>really thinking of, though, was
>music (practically no female
>composers or conductors and please
>don't tell me I'm wrong
>because I can think of
>at least 4 of each
>without even pausing in my
>typing but you know what
>I mean!)

Compared to ballet, the music profession is scary - just have a look at this page about the Vienna Philharmonic and women to see what I mean.

>This was one of the traits
>that I was thinking of
>- I have noticed that
>it is far more common
>for men to say "What
>do I have to do
>to get promoted" whereas women
>will say "What do I
>have to do to make
>this work better".
>
>(stereotyped generalisations but stereotypes exist for
>a reason)

And my problem with this is that there are no prizes for making things work better, whereas rank, position and money are fetishized by men and women alike.


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Jim

06-03-02, 08:59 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #2
 
   >I have to say that this
>isn't really a ballet issue
>- it's a life issue.

I feel nervous and a little insecure about posting this, but it has been worrying me for many years. I can cite two hard and fast cases of sexual discrimination against women in my work experience and I have felt helpless as to know what to do.

CASE 1. A many years ago Colleague X supervised a female PhD student who had a 1st Hons degree and was eminently qualified. The nature of the project involved supervising fieldwork and going to conferences, in the usual academic context. Colleague X's wife became intensley jealous, gave him hell for three years. The result is that he has avoided female research students at all costs ever since, but has had several successful males.

CASE 2. This involves me so I don't have to be anonymous. I am a licenced bird-ringing trainer and have trained lots and lots of male and female trainees over the years. When one particular female trainee went on a sandwich placement year, I contacted the local ringing group to ask if she may participate in their activities for a year (normal practice). The result was a stone wall. The response from the leader was something like "It's hard enough getting the time off from our families to "enjoy ourselves" on a Sunday afternoon as it is - to be seen enjoying ourselves in the company of other women would be unthinkable". My trainee was extremely upset, and this is not an isolated case.

The facts are indisputable, it is the interpretation of them that I find difficult. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, in these cases at least, women may be their own worst enemies. I have really felt helpless as to know how to respond to situations like this.

I know this is not about ballet but seems to be in the general context of this thread.


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AEHandley

06-03-02, 09:51 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #4
 
   I have to say that as a woman who works in a heavily male dominated field I find these cases surprising. The best interpretation I can put on them is that there is a perception problem between the sexes? My work is heavily male-dominated (I spent 5 1/2 years in a department where all but one of my peers were (a) male and (b) more than 20 years older than me and I was never treated as a threat). There are definite ingrained discriminatory attitudes, yes, but outright issues like the ones you mention I haven't come across (unless you count the guy who was just plain rude and dismissive to me to the extent that I had to stop dealing with him or I'd have belted him - until he needed me to get him out of a hole, HAH!) and I would have hoped that we had at last outgrown this kind of thing. One further point - I benefitted for a few years from a close involvement with a US company and their attitudes were way way ahead of ours in the UK. I wonder if the same applies in the arts world?


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Estelle

07-03-02, 00:11 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #6
 
   Thanks to Susie Crow for her very interesting article.

In France, recently there have been several ballet companies with female ballet directors: Brigitte Lefèvre at the Paris Opera (and in the late 1970s- early 1980s there were also Violette Verdy and Rosella Hightower), Nanette Glushak at the Ballet de Toulouse, Marie-Claude Pietragalla in Marseille... Also the director of the POB school (a very influential job, as nearly all POB students come from the school) is Claude Bessy. The number of ballet companies is so small that it's hard to have significant statistics, but at least it shows that there are women in powerful positions. It'd be hard to name French female ballet choreographers... but well, actually it'd be hard to name living male ballet choreographers under 60, as most choreographers are more interested in modern dance.

Also there is a large proportion of female modern dance company directors, like Maguy Marin, Maryse Delente, Catherine Diverres, Mathilde Monnier... All of them are choreographers, which seems to contradict what was written above about males creating and females interpreting. More generally, there have been a lot of historical modern dance choreographers (Graham, Humphrey, Sokolow, Tamiris...), many female writers, etc.
In general, I'm always a bit cautious about such generalizations, I've heard quite a lot of "biological" explanations to explain the very low proportion of women in mathematics (my field of work), but it generally neglects the fact that such proportions depend a lot on the cultural background (for example the proportion of female mathematicians is much larger in Italy, or in Mexico).


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Jim

07-03-02, 08:31 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #7
 
   LAST EDITED ON 07-03-02 AT 08:32 AM (GMT)

>it generally neglects
>the fact that such proportions
>depend a lot on the
>cultural background

I absolutely agree with this. The old notion of the male being the active hunter/gatherer whilst the little woman stays in the cave suckling infants is totally negated by some anthropologists who describe (still extant) matriarchal cultures in which the women do all the work and the men hang around all day getting high on whatever it is they smoke, and discussing "higher things".


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Viviane

07-03-02, 10:18 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: 'Invisible Women' discussion"
In response to message #7
 
   LAST EDITED ON 07-03-02 AT 10:20 AM (GMT)

I'm not so sure if cultural background makes so much difference in todays Europe. I would rather call it a problem with superficial 'stereotypes'.
I never wanted to make an issue about male/female ambitions and careers. Women have other preferences and put other accents into their jobs....and usually have to proof themselves twice
Estelle's example about the French situation finds also some resemblance in Italy : you have Carla Fracci (Rome), Elisabetta Terabust (Firenze), not so long ago : Patricia Ruanne at La Scala, Carolyn Carlson at the Biennal of Venice and there are others.

20 years ago we graduated 8 female/60 male architects (out of the 10/110 who started). Only 2 women started a private practice. It was a tough time, first not taken serious by some professors and afterwards being ignored by engineers and workmen. At some point it was quasi impossible to find a decent obligatory trainee-office for a 2 years-period.
In the meantime things have changed considerable : nowadays the male/female proportion is 50/50. But now and then...we need to face the same old problems ! (even when I answer the phone one is still asking for the 'architect' )
There are days I ask myself "was it all worth it" ? ...and I can carry the 'invisible women's'point.


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