Saturday, January 05, 2008

Female Liberation?

2007 was a great year for me in many regards even if I made enough to put me solidly on the poverty line. I did eight shows (count 'em 8 shows) last year and got paid for... one of them! In the process, I met some amazing new people, people that I came to New York to met: actors, and playwrights, and directors, and just general artist/dilletante-types. I ended the year with a kind of faith that, hell yes, I am struggling and I might, like the grasshopper, have nothing for the eventual winter of my life so to speak but nevermind; I am here now and making work and doing it with wickedly talented, sincere, sharp, funny people who are all sacrificing to be creative.

2008 has started out with a slight bump and I am about to do something that, honestly, I rarely do on this blog - confess. Believe it or not, I seldom use this as a public journal. But here goes -- I recently had an experience with a guy, who shall heretoforth go unnamed, and it reminded me of why, sometimes, I really despise the prevailing dynamic between (straight) men and women that exists in this particular time and place, especially in this City. Simply put, there seems to be a kind of reversal of any gains that were made during the sexual revolution or during the women's movement. (The latter especially is in tatters. The Onion recently had an article with the headline "Man Put in Charge of Ailing Feminist Movement" and it was the funniest thing in the paper). My example of this is dating in New York which is, in my experience, more like something out of a Jane Austen novel than, say, an episode of "Sex in the City" (a show which to me has about as much to do with my life as a woman in New York as "Gossip Girl"). Maybe this has to do with a 5 to 1 female to male ratio? Plus, as far as I can tell, being single is seen as some sort of major personal failure. I almost dread being asked the question "are you dating anyone?" as much as "what do you do?" Both being pre-cursors of judgement i.e. " are you successful? are you desired? and depending on the answers to those: are you worth getting to know?"

My latest experience hooking up and then attempting to have (a) date has not been great and I have sought out and received so much conflicting advice from friends it's made my head spin. The advice, usually, comes in two forms, the most prevelant is: don't make the first move - ever. You have to be pursued, there is a biological, evolutionary, model at work - woe to you if you mess with the hunter-gatherer paradigm of male/female relationships. You must be the Diana of this urban-myth so run and he will chase; if he doesn't chase then, yes, he's "just not that into you" (this turns out to, generally, be my experience). The other advice is, of course, the direct opposite and goes something like: "be aggressive, take control, it's sexy."

Armed with this information, the dance begins and is usually a tiresome series of emails that reveal, once again, that all relationships boil down to a power-play. I hate this. I find it annoying and incredibly, yes, tiresome. I loathe the inherent inequality - the game of figuring who holds the cards. I don't know why I would expect anything else though since we are just taking the model of what we've grown up with and feeding it into our own lives. Equality especially in personal relationships takes a lot of communication and a lot of honesty and, sadly, I find most guys especially most American guys just do not have enough genuine curiousity about another person for this to happen. I am shocked at how conversations usually develop between men and women - the woman asks questions all night, listens and then comments appreciatevely at the answers she hears from the man. As far as I can tell the "healthiest" most functional relationships I see are very often same-sex. I wonder if this is because by already subverting the expected cultural-norm/model it frees two people up to engage on a more level playing field as equals from the get-go? Am I generalizing? Probably. Is some of what I've just written bullshit? Absolutely. Is some of it true? Without a doubt.

I don't know where I am going with this and I am fearful that this is quickly turning into one quasi-academic, half-bakked theory on relationships or, in my case, the lack therof.