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Stereotypes: Gender, Sexuality and Race in Theatre - Essay Example

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Stereotypes: Gender, Sexuality and Race in Theatre

Steps to emerge from trauma include, protest, acquiring and using a vocabulary of resistance, the renovation of personal mythology, taking personal responsibility for enacting healing modalities and the re-scripting of behaviour. Play and nature re-connection are two highly effective responses to trauma. Theatre and ecology provide central, contemporary vehicles for adult play and nature-connection, and intuitive tools for addressing gender and sexuality oppression and exploitation in the post post-modern era. This paper will consider current directions of social movements, and how theatre reflects this focus. This paper will also consider the special situation of the straight white male, in relation to these movements, his neglect and damage, the styles in which he is engaged in movements of protest, renovation of personal mythology, and the re-scripting of behaviour, as well as his play and nature-connection, particularly as reflected in performing arts. The central thesis of this paper is that activist-oriented oppression trauma of women and gays and activist oppression trauma of straight white males, have taken two divergent paths, the former that of queer and feminist ecology and the latter that of patriarchal religious re-scripting. These divergent paths are reflected in contemporary theatre and performance ritual. What they have in common is an attempted reclamation of disconnected spirituality. As toddlers, we all learn that people who are bigger (older kids and adults) can exert power over us, and can use all kinds of oppressive attitudes and actions to exploit our less powerful state. It is traumatic. Conformity and cooperation are not always possible or desirable. Sane survival is challenging. The costs may be high. In adolescence, sorting through the implications of oppression and exploitation can lead to identity crises, teen depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Adulthood is a constant battle to climb the ladder of success and acceptance, in spite of socially unforgivable differences. Oppression and exploitation continue, as do our pathetic coping mechanisms. For those who tire of the coping mechanisms, are too intelligent to settle for them, or cannot make them work adequately, awareness may begin to overcome internalized self-loathing, and a vocabulary of political understanding may be adopted. This was the blossoming of political consciousness in the post-modern age. Support groups, protest rallies, petition parties, organized resistance efforts, magazines, consciousness raising sessions, sit-ins, awareness events, street theatre, music festivals, films and plays with social commentary, and even the first lesbian kiss on network television (on LA Law) were all part of the scene as racial, gender and class oppression were articulated. Gays came out of the closet. Transgendered people had hormone injections and surgery. Lesbians left husbands and married lovers. The face of the family changed radically. The face of society changed. Performing arts also underwent change. Twin beds gave way to shared beds, and women commanded star ships. So where did this leave men? Women and gays had different ideas about gender and sexuality than did most straight White males. Scholars wrote about gender as learned behaviour, and so people began raising their children outside the stereotypes, and many even ...Show more
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Summary

All people have experienced oppression and exploitation, whether based on any combination of age, gender, race and ethnicity, social class, disability, sexual preference, appearance, IQ, language or accent, religious beliefs and practices, lifestyle, political persuasions, or any number of other variables…
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