How do you define feminism? Is it important in your work?

How do you define feminism? Is it important in your work?


Malala Yousafzai
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Matthew: How are you feminists? Or are you?

Laakkuluk: I’m proudly female, that’s for sure

Amy: Sorry, my dog threw up. Had to duck out for a moment! Feminism??

Laakkuluk: Ha ha ha ha!

Matthew: Ha ha ha [coughing fit] ha ha

Laakkuluk: I mean, that’s terrible. I hope she doesn’t do that again.

Amy: Earlier in my life I did not think of myself as a feminist, although I was always independent. My Mom worked outside the home and I guess I always learned by example. When I was younger (I am 56) feminism was a hard word with a bad connotation, but not so much anymore.

Laakkuluk: But you do see yourself as a feminist now?

Amy: Yes, I guess so but I always thought of myself as a humanist. But when I consider positions of leadership, like government or running theatres etc, I believe it is very important to have gender equity, or as close as possible. I do believe that women are still paid less and have to work harder to get to the top. We are much harder on women. Our premier just resigned. I believe a lot of the criticism about her would not have been so much if she were a man. People get more personal about women it seems.

Matthew: Was there specific criticism about her gender?

Laakkuluk: You are absolutely right – female politicians face a lot of gendered prejudice

Amy: It was mean criticism somehow. Her presentation, her communication manner…

Laakkuluk: Women and visible minorities still get exposed to a lot of unconscious chauvinism and racism: remarks that slight the subject

Amy: yeah, I guess I felt there was an air of chauvinism within the criticism of K. Dunderdale.

Laakkuluk: there definitely was for our former female premier as well

Matthew: Have you seen the site Dancing With The Octopus?

Laakkuluk: Tell us about it

Matthew: A Victoria woman started this site to draw attention to the gender imbalance in politics. Questions like, “What would your government look like if it was made up of 75% women?” Then I go- What?! 75% male government? Doesn’t seem quite right. I think we’re doing better in theatre.

Amy: It is interesting that every time I saw our premier speak, she referred to her family, the family unit, where we came from to get where we have arrived. Basic foundation stuff. Not that it was all that but it was in the mix: the pride of place and family.

Laakkuluk: I agree with Matthew – I see so much more gender equality and partnership in theatre

Matthew: And how do you define feminism? Laakkuluk?

Amy: Also do you consider yourself a feminist?

Matthew: A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women- according to wiki

Laakkuluk: Well – for me there is a sense of pride and cultural responsibility in my gender but there is also the need to affirm the female voice in a commercialized world that suppresses female perspectives and experiences. One struggle I often have in feminist discussions is that I think so much female knowledge has been lost in the fight to be the same as men. I think that the fight should be to be equal to men but not to become men. If we all become the same as the men in the boardrooms, we lose a connection to home, the land, to sensual knowledge, to family. Not that all men lack that at all, but I’m talking about trends.

Amy: I agree. Totally. WE are different, we just want to be in/on the same playing field. Anyone can be a feminist. Are you a feminist Matthew?

Matthew: I would like to think so. At least “yes” was my first reaction to the question. Then I looked up the definition of feminism, because I was not sure how to define it. I suppose I defined it as “supportive of women and gender equality.” Or something like that. The definition I read: “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.” Led me to think I was not active enough to be a feminist.

Amy: Interesting they say collection of movements.

Matthew: I can’t say I am completely dedicated to defining establishing and defending equality, but I do think about gender equality in casting and in the make up of our administration I also consider other forms of equality.

Amy: I get ideologies, but “movements” seems to me to be that old-fashioned feminism I referred to earlier.

Matthew: Yes, Amy, I can see that.

Amy: In Newfoundland, women hold most of the Ad & GM jobs of theatre companies. It is changing but probably equal female/male now.

Amy Brownhill, midwife

Matthew: I think I spoke in an earlier chat about a project that I’m writing connected to sexual politics in the workplace.

Laakkuluk: Tell us more about it!

Matthew: Inspired by the terrible way some men still speak about women in male-dominated work places such as construction sites and carpentry scene shops. Takes place in a scene shop where carpenters are building a set.

Matthew: The first draft has 12 men and three women in it. So it will need an all-female crew.

Laakkuluk: That’s going to be great

Amy: WE are breaking into unconventional careers more and more. It is still very new though so will take some time

Matthew: So I guess feminism is important in our work?

Amy: Very much so.

Laakkuluk: As we have this conversation, my daughter and her two teenaged friends are watching “Call the Midwife”

Amy: heeheehee

Laakkuluk: The living room is filled with the sounds of babies being born and the girls are entranced.

Matthew: A Feminist show?

Laakkuluk: Yes I would say so

Amy: Very important job.

Matthew: Our midwife is one of our heroes.

Amy: Are there any male mid-“wives”? That would be equality.

Matthew: Heroines.

Laakkuluk: They are beautiful heroines

Matthew: One male mid-wife in BC

Laakkuluk: My father helped deliver babies. My husband helped at our friend’s birth too

Matthew: Ah, and at least one in the North

Amy: Excellent.

Matthew: I was hoping to catch my son, but I don’t think that would have counted.

Amy: My husband was in the room watching a baseball game while I was in labour! God love him!

Matthew: The next room or the room you were in?

Amy: The room I was in, just before the birth! But he flew home to be there! 🙂

Laakkuluk: The lovely men that attend our births!

Matthew: Who was playing?

Amy: Blue Jays and someone. Final game of the season! 1990

Laakkuluk: oooh – even I know that was a big game

Amy: yeah. A big deal.

Matthew: Orioles won that game 3-2. October 3rd would the date of your child’s birth then?

Amy: Sorry it was 1992, July 25th is her birthday, but the game was on 24th.

Amy: Well, I think we did say gender equity is important to our work. It is a hot topic at all our PACT AGM’s!

FUSE_35-2_Bathory-Hupfield-7a_Statue-of-Liberty_frontLaakkuluk: I think I would just add that I use gender quite centrally in my work especially as an uaajeerneq (Greenlandic mask dancing) dancer where the whole point is to celebrate the physical body and all healthy expressions of sexuality

Matthew: Uaajeerneq- I’ll have to look that up

Laakkuluk: And to play with the so-called “borders” of gendered roles

Amy: That sounds beautiful Laakkuluk. I would love to see that.

Matthew: The borders between male and female and other genders?

Amy: Men and women dance? Same number of men and women, or just one of each?

Laakkuluk: It’s a blast. I’m in an uaajeerneq mask in the photo I sent in for this chat. Yes the borders between male and female and other genders. Both men and women perform uaajeerneq often wearing huge phalluses or massive breasts

Matthew: Do you teach it?

Laakkuluk: yes I do

Matthew: One more reason to get together.

Laakkuluk: Absolutely!

Amy: for sure.

Amy: Phonetically spell it, How do you pronounce it?

Laakkuluk: “ooooaayiinnik.” But the last sound is like the way “q” is pronounced in Arabic

Amy: It even sounds sexy!

Laakkuluk: He he – you’re already getting the hang of it

Amy: Thanks guys! See ya!

Laakkuluk: See you gang! Thanks for all the fun again!

Matthew: Adios you feminists!




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About the Authors

I am an advocate for the deep human need for all people, but especially post-colonial indigenous people to express themselves at a level of creative excellence. A mother, student, writer and performer based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. I live in a household that speaks Greenlandic, Inuktitut and English. My work includes uaajeerneq – Greenlandic mask dancing, music, drum-dancing, storytelling and acting. Hunting, camping and eating wild foods are all activities that figure largely in my family.
Los Angeles native, Dana Dugan is an artist, acrobat, performer, pedagogue, academic, and mother based in Montreal. She was a founding member, programmer, and producer for the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree at Concordia University under scholarship researching the circus body
Amy House’s theatre career spans forty years. I know - she does not look that old! A comedienne, writer, actor, arts advocate, and Artistic Animateur of RCA Theatre Company in St. John’s, Amy has created several one-woman shows including: The Seven Faces of Amy with Maxim Mazumdar, ’Tis Not Human, To Be What You Want To Be, and Scratch and Pull.