Open Letter Addresses Claims of Sexism, Exclusion
"Open Letter Addresses Claims of Sexism, Exclusion
A few members of the community raised concerns about our recent production of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer (MMRP), a play we produced as part of the international V-Day Movement. As a result, we wrote an open letter aiming to address those concerns and clarify the position of The Clitlective as a self-named ‘feminist theatre collective’. The open letter is included below. We will share this via social media and other appropriate avenues to ensure the widest possible reach in order to address these concerns and correct misinterpretations of our work.
First, let us address the claim that our reviewer (from Theatreview) felt that the production was ‘sexist’, as most of the monologues in the show described violence against women by men. It was not our intention to imply that women are only abused by men, or that men are never abused, or any variation thereof. There are many experiences of violence, and we certainly don’t mean to imply that only some are valid. However, the aim of MMRP, and of the V-Day Movement as a whole, is to end violence against women and girls. Thus, MMRP was written with the express purpose of addressing this type of violence; the monologues are written by a range of writers who were asked to write a monologue on the topic of violence against women and girls. In fact, one of the reasons we chose to produce MMRP this year instead of one of the other V-Day shows (such as The Vagina Monologues) was that the cast does include men, and thus male perspectives. We believe that feminist theatre is inclusive theatre that should involve everyone who believes in equality, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
This brings us to another criticism of the show - that MMRP and, in fact, the Clitlective involve primarily white women. This is true, but it is not intentional. We are an open collective and welcome participation by anyone who would like to be involved, including men, transwomen, members of the LGBTQI community, anyone. Perhaps we have not yet done the best possible job of recruiting a wide range of members, but we also do not exclude anyone. In terms of MMRP specifically, the range of monologues that we chose for the show (there are a number available to choose from) did generally reflect experiences of people like ourselves and our community. This did mean no monologues about the experiences of African women in Sudan, for instance, but we made that choice in the belief that we would better understand and portray experiences closer to our own, and did not want to misinterpret or misrepresent the experiences of others. We apologise if this decision caused offence.
Finally, we have received criticism for doing a show by Eve Ensler, whose views on transwomen are controversial. To clarify, MMRP was not written by Eve Ensler, although she was the driving force behind it. In our opinion, while Eve Ensler is clearly not perfect and the V-Day Movement could arguably do more to be inclusive, we chose to participate since it offers us an opportunity to raise money for local organisations while being a part of an international movement that does work for positive change. Both Wellington Women’s Refuge and Shakti Wellington were grateful for the support of The Clitlective, and we are very pleased to be able to help them in their work.