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Women’s identity: How do you find it when the world claims you were born with it?

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Ward After School
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  1. Introduction
  2. The uprising of the feminist movement in the 1970's
  3. The four playwrights
    1. Vogel
    2. Fornes
    3. Howe
    4. Miller
  4. The character of Julia
  5. Men as victims of evil
  6. The Mineola Twins
  7. The forces pushing down on women
  8. Interview with Vogel
  9. Conclusion
  10. Works cited

Women in theatre are always up or down, the virgin or the whore, over-run with emotions or a stone cold bitch. There is rarely a happy medium for women on the stage. But there is an in-between. There is a middle ground between being an extreme, and being a bore. Despite the fact that every woman knows that they as individuals are never ?one or the other,' there is a near epidemic of this happening on stage. Women playwrights recognize this as a problem. Most are trying to fix this, some in an obvious way and others a little more subtly. The first step toward this is by writing more ?genuine' female characters; genuine here meaning more dimensional, more complex, and more true-to-life representations of females.
With many women tackling this issue, educating their peers and taking a more fearless approach to writing, it would seem that the world would start to ?get it.' Unfortunately, women playwrights are suffering from the same stereotypical treatment their characters are receiving. Therefore, the women that are appearing more and more on stage since the 1970s are on a quest. Sometimes it is background noise, and sometimes it is the main protagonist's battle. Either way, women characters have begun to struggle with identity openly and tirelessly because women around the world are doing the same thing. Although identity as a word is defined in a hard-fast rigid kind of way, identity as a cultural state of being is not so black and white.

[...] You can't be more or less a Virgin. It's different for men. There are no absolutes for guys. I have to earn the right to wear white when I walk down the aisle (The Mineola Twins, 113). Vogel speaks volumes in just that small bit of dialogue. She has set the play in the fifties, which provides a nice political background. During the late 1940s and early 1950s the government pushed people into a suburban lifestyle which forced women, among other things, back into the household as purely a housewife. [...]

[...] Many grapple with society's idea that women are born the way they are, and that from birth to death we are the same person. Men on the other hand, they create themselves and their circumstances. They are born a clean slate. Society takes this idea from the Bible of course, which faults women for bringing evil to men, as Eve brought the apple to Adam. But society is a purveyor of the extremes, so that while many women are portrayed as being born into their identity, not all are born evil. [...]

[...] Women who are seeking out their identity and finding bits and pieces of it scattered across the stage are mysterious and thought-provoking and memorable. Identity should not be forced upon anyone; woman or man, and every person should be allowed to go on their own quest. Many women playwrights are now steeping their characters with the freedom to do that, and it is liberating. Just for that moment, when a playwright like Paula Vogel, Tina Howe, Irene Fornes, or Susan [...]

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