The sexist chronicles of Romeo and Juliet

Monre Jameson

Monre Jameson

16 April 2018
"'Tis true; and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will push Montague's men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall."
The sexist chronicles of Romeo and Juliet

How fascinating the sexism visible in the Romeo and Juliet play? This article reiterates the theatricals of sexism and is not an extrapolation of actual theatre. We can, however, examine the acts of our life-theatre by relating it to the unfolding dramas of a traditional theatre play.

To contextualise, take a moment and imagine your life being a theatrical play on stage. Imagine you being the main character, and your loved ones, friends and others all being the supporting cast. Position these characters on the stage relative to your standing.

Think about how the conversations, beliefs and feelings formed this theatrical play, and when you were much younger how your perception of the world contributed to your theatrical as well as the influencers that co-produced your play.

Lastly, explore the social context in which your theatre play. Explore the values, beliefs and principles that moulded its forming stages.

Through all of this, the script to your theatrical was born, natively written in permanent ink.

As described above, our theatre script is made up of our core values, beliefs and principles. There is the dramatic act of this script which is the play manifestation; our outplay, observable through how we behave every moment of every day. Over time we establish an unbreakable relationship with this script, frequently referencing it in the act; benchmarking every moment and managing our ongoing judgements we face with every permanent line.

As with Romeo and Juliet, sexism is an engraved component of our theatrical, symptomatic of its time and condition. Some of us scripted sexism based on what we saw in our parents or superiors. Some of us copied aspects of it in churches and communities, but most of us took whatever the, quite gender-opinionated world threw at us during the formation of our script. Gender positioning visible in the Romeo and Juliet script had its influence during the late, and quite gender-rigid 1500's.

Irrelevant of our inceptive idiosyncracies, we all have sexist jargon in our script, and as with all other behavioural facets, we have unique relationships with each.

During the forming years of our theatre script, we tend to write our experiences and observations in permanent ink, as for a youngster, making basic deliberating choices is tough. We engulf ourselves in the what we see and what we hear. Youngsters observe the behaviours of men, the responses of women, and the nurtured echelons thereof. When we look at the repetition of these behaviours we recruit our cast; we form our actors, and we record our script permanently.

It's only years later that we are capable of questioning our theatrical script. Such capability triggers a significant and quandary need for a script edit, ignited through questioning and seeking validation. We scratch over the permanent lines and push back on our support cast whose scripts are well-rehearsed, all in an attempt to change the theatrical to become inline with our renewed belief.

Permanent scripts and its deep-rooted constraints never really dissipate, irrelevant of how much we scratch over it. Eventually, despite numerous rewrites, we develop a discordant relationship with the unchangeable values we took upon in our younger years. Such relationship manifests as being either retentive or repulsive. It seems that we either agree with it or not. It rarely remains neutral.

With sexism, for example, a retentive behaviour is more agreeable by nature. We believe that our initially founded gender rules still apply and served us well. We continue to act our script, making the occasional tweak, but retain its value and core belief.

In the case of repulsive sexism we realise that significant aspects of our script either seem erroneous, no longer serves us, or we feel cheated by those who drafted the content. We come to learn that the original script does more harm than good.

It is then that we start acting somewhat erratically, some in rebel, some in compensation, rooted in anger, shame and hurt, and all of it being red pen scratches over an initial script with numerous notes in a desperate attempt for reformation. We shout at the beliefs of our cast, demand changes, and refuse acceptance in the hope to find neutrality and solace.

Then sadly there are those who feel repulsed by their original sexist dogma, but instead of having the freedom to embark on reformation, their social environment hasn't changed much, causing inner-conflict and a forced theatrical.

Luckily for some of us, and over time, progress is made, be it called wisdom or experience. For others, the growth is smaller and often ends in reluctant acceptance. A lucky few manage to reform several lines of their script, resulting in a renewed theatrical, with the support from most of their cast, and the alienation of those refusing the summons.

I believe this is where the world is at with sexism. Women are battling in the social norms engraved in the scripts of men, of others, countries, religions and governments while men feel confronted with women who no longer accept the theatrical imposed by these scripts. We all manifest the relationship of our historical sexism through our play, and because of this, others become involved.

Whether we are the main character of our scripts or part of the supporting cast of another, the alteration of lines manifests not only in our world but in the plays of others, whether intended or unintended.

One of the benefits of placing a theatrical lens on our lives is that it allows us to withhold blame to others and ourselves. Neither is wrong, and neither is right. Can we genuinely expect full accountability from a child (including our inner-child) for what they've scripted in permanent ink and for the environment they grew up? Perhaps not a child, but how about an adult?

It's understandable that pen-written scripts and acts in our younger years are hard to change. It does not, however, disclaim us as adults from attempting to explore and keep refining our modern-day scripts. Then, being a character in someone else's play furthermore allows us to be permutable, and thus supporting them in their challenge of refining their scripts.

In final, sexism in scripts are far from perfect, and I suppose will never be. But within the ultimately flawed script, we find a perfectly normal author, someone that gave it their best shot. And since there is no such thing as perfect sexism, none of us really can point at and claim that some acts are better than others. We may think that we're a fantastic main character in our script, but we may be a horrible supporting character to someone else's.