Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Actors and Actresses

During my recent work on a committee that reviewed the department of Theater and Dance, I discovered that the word "actress" is considered derogatory. Female thespians should be referred to as "actors."

I have to say that I find this disturbing. Why is the female term considered to be of less value? Why should women aspire to be called actors? Why not get men to ask to be referred to as actresses?

I thought that the ridiculous separation between male and female roles at all kinds of award shows was as far as the world of acting went in terms of chauvinism. Now I know that things are even worse than I thought. I wonder why female representatives of the acting profession are still so eager to play this chauvinistic game.

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Eleanor said...

I dislike being called an actress because I don't see why there should be a distinction between the sexes for this job title. There's no term for a female academic, do you think there should be? Actually, on that note, do you think we should keep calling female authors authoresses? To do so would sound extremely demeaning, surely, because the distinction is unnecessary. I think the reason the actor/actress distinction is still prevalent compared to, say, author/authoress, is because of the sexism still prevalent in the industry and the huge double standard between what is expected of male and female actors.

Clarissa said...

"Actually, on that note, do you think we should keep calling female authors authoresses?"

-As I said very clearly in the post, I'm in favor of privileging and applying the female noun to BOTH men and women. Let's dump "author," "poet", and "actor" altogether and consider them demeaning. Let everybody (women AND men) adopt the female title and be proud of it.

Pagan Topologist said...

I think that the attempt to make such nouns non gender specific is a little silly/strange. Chinese has an extraordinarily sexist culture, in my opinion, but has a completely non-sexist language by English/American standards (excluding, perhaps, the fact that the word for "wife" is simply the word for "too much" twice.) Many other languages which exist in much more sexist cultures are much more gender divided than is American English.

Pagan Topologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pagan Topologist said...

One more try: Many other languages which exist in much LESS sexist cultures are much more gender divided than is American English.

donna simone said...

I call myself an actor because I don't believe that the separation is necessary.

A dancer is a dancer.
A writer, a writer.
A poet is and always be a poet.
A painter is a painter, period---

but why is an actor an actress?
As artists, we are one.

Gender specification is needed for casting (sometimes), but why keep at the segregation? I am proud to be in an MFA class of ACTORS... both men and women.

Clarissa said...

Once again: why don't men and women call themselves actresses? Is anybody going to try to answer this question, or are people just going to repeat the same thing like mechanical parrots?