When I was finishing my directing degree at the Phoenix Theatre, I was short a few electives and had to take some basket weaving courses during the summer. It was great. Here I was, preparing for a Fringe show, drinking wine on the beach, having BBQ’s, running around on the back of my friend’s Moped and being 23 years old with only a few courses left in my degree.
The problem was, there weren’t any basket weaving available. So, I took a women’s study course and a classical music appreciation course. I guessed they’d be pretty easy after doing a 4th year directing project.
What I didn’t bargain for in the women’s study course was how it would change my life. I’d grown up with ten men in a traditional, partriarchal model and as I studied women’s feminist writings and listened to my instructor talk about Virginia Woolf and the importance of having a ‘room of one’s own’ I began to see a different perspective. It was like I woke up from a long sleep. Where in god’s name had I been all this time? This was serious $%#@!
I jettisoned girly girl fables, stories, dreams. I said, fuck Cinderella, fuck Snow White, fuck being a wife! I burned my bra, my future white dress, my rehearsal dinner, my cake….my husband.
That was 20 years ago.
A lot has happened. A lot has changed. Do I want all that fluffy bouffant girly stuff? Not really. But I do realize that not allowing anyone in so I could be someone Gloria Steinem would be proud of is maybe not serving me anymore. When I read that Gloria married at the age of 66 I was kind of blown away. But I loved what she said in an interview, when asked about this ‘change of heart’:
It was something about me. I think. First of all, I was 66 years old. I was who I was. I no longer felt that I would have to give myself up in any way.
I love this.
I no longer felt I would have to give myself up in any way.
Ah. That is it really. That was what I think I was always afraid of, fought for, held onto in my life–that desire to not have to give myself up, my writing, my art, my essential voice.
I know finally, and really understand, what Gloria is talking about. It’s softened me up a little, taken down those unwieldy walls I’d constructed around me to keep out those fables, bows, and glass slippers.
And when I did, lo and behold, it wasn’t so bad! They’re sweet, some of those stories, and they’re not evil, and they have some adorable moments. It doesn’t mean I believe in the idea that women need ‘saving’ or carriages that turn into pumpkins at midnight. But I kind of like the Cinderella story, and you know, I would re-write it to be a girl that didn’t have much money but worked her ass off, was able to support herself, and then met a really great guy and she no longer felt she would have to give herself up in any way.
Maybe they met in a bar instead of a ball. The point is, Gloria was ready for an equal partnership, and maybe Cindrella in my story would be too, and wouldn’t have to be saved, but rather ‘discovered’ for all of her power, and all of her weakness, faults, and foibles and still loved. That is no fable–it’s partnership.
When asked, why, after 50 years of being single and dating and all of that, would she get married? She said it was because her and David Bale ‘both felt that we wanted to be responsible for each other’.
Isn’t that lovely? So maybe Cinderella and her Prince would be responsible for each other. Lucky Prince I say.