Grant Proposal Alternative
Performing Parts: Gender, Sexuality, and Media Symposium
Prior to the symposium, we were instructed to watch Edouard Lock’s Amelia. At first watch, I thought the performance was constructed to create a piece in which gender roles did not influence the piece. In other words, a piece that was completely “gender free.” Upon further discussion, the deeper meaning of the piece was revealed. Lock created this piece to not only question gender roles on the performing stage, but also display how gender equality does not necessarily equate with gender neutrality and equality does not necessarily equate with progressiveness.
Our discussion focused around two of the duets in the piece. In the first, both individuals, one male and one female, were wearing suits, slicked back hair, make-up, and female point shoes. One would assume the goal was to become gender neutral. However, these performers were very gendered wearing both male and female stereotypical outfits. Lock intended to show that this elimination of strict gender roles did not by necessity promote female empowerment or gender equality. Similarly, he wanted to show that by just because you have a gender equal performance it does not by necessity be gender neutral. Emily Martin argues, “Stereotypes imply not only that female biological processes are less worthy than their male counterparts but also that women are less worthy than men” (485-486). I believe Lock would agree with this statement, but would argue that when on the stage, it must be displayed and constructed differently. Females on the stage can embrace these stereotypes, such as wearing tutu’s and pointe shoes, while their male counterparts are in suits, and demonstrate their strengths, creating gender equality without succumbing to gender neutrality.
The second duet involved two individuals that were often indistinguishable, and instead of focusing on the bodies exclusively, the camera would focus on the silhouettes of the individuals. However, the movements of the individuals were very controlling, making one individual submit to the will of the other, as a puppet to a puppeteer. Again, Lock is pushing against the notion that equality on the stage automatically links with progressiveness. As the Beijing Declaration reads, “inequalities between women and men have persisted and major obstacles remain,” however forcing equality will not always be the most effective way to go (2). Instead, a more progressive movement would have been partners alternating lift sequences, challenging the notion that females must rely on their male counterparts to lift them.
Lock challenges his viewers to look at the different representations of gender on the stage and how these representations fit into the mold of equality that we have envisioned in our lives. Holla summed it up best with, “The fact that there are still such incendiary notions should tell us that American women have a way to go before they enter the promised land of equality” (9).
Amelia. Chor. Edouard Lock. Performance.
Holla, H. “Blame It on Feminism.” Editorial. Mother Jones Sept. 1991: 24. Print.
The Fourth World Conference on Women. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. 15 Sept. 1995. Web.
Martin, Emily. “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles.” Journal of Women in Culture and Society 16.31 (1991): 485-501. Web.