Yesterday I had coffee with my friend Julie (McIsaac: she played Evelyn in our 2006 production of The Shape of Things and has since gone on to work with Bard, Arts Club, Carousel and this fall will be performing in the Arts Club’s production of Black Comedy) and we got to talking about women in theatre.
Now, first off, I want to preface this discussion by saying I generally HATE talking about how I am a women in theatre. I would never call myself a “feminist”. I pretty much hate that word. And, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in equality for women. I do, definitely. But I also believe that there is a fundamental difference between men and women and that our differences are something that should generally be celebrated. Because, really, besides being able to pee standing up there is not any other reason I would be envious of or would want to be a man. I also don’t think it is helpful to blame all of society’s problems on patriarchy.
So, that being said, let’s discuss. I think the reason me & Julie got onto the subject is because one of the female leads in Les Miserables at the Arts Club is pregnant and the same goes with another lead at Bard this year. I am turning 30 next year and I can honestly tell you the age thing doesn’t bother me one bit. I will actually be quite happy to leave my twenties behind because for the most part it has been a crazy roller coaster ride. Extremely wild and fun but after too many twists and turns it left me a bit disoriented. And now, I’m quite happy to just sit on the Ferris Wheel for a while and go around and around, you know?! Peaceful. Content. No more angst. And I’ve never been in a real rush to do the marriage and kids thing. At this point I’m not even sure I want to do the marriage and kids thing. But, on the other hand, it is also not an option I am entirely ready to rule out and in about 5 years, the option of actually getting pregnant reduces to 20% and in 10 years that option reduces even further to 5%. It is just a fact of life and where gender makes all the difference.
Now, me and Julie, are roughly the same age and both of us are really just getting started with our careers. We talked about how up to this point we both have been so focused on getting our careers started – hers acting, mine directing – that our personal lives have really taken a back burner. Time flies. Five years ago I graduated from University and 30 felt like a million years away. Now 30 is next year and everything between then and now seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Time only speeds up. And, it doesn’t slow back down again until we’re all sitting in the old folks home reminiscing about how we used to walk to school, in the freezing cold, without shoes, for an hour.
Consequently up until now I haven’t really thought much about me, my gender or how it makes one bit of difference. I prefer to just do my job and do it well because in the end I think that is all that should matter. The quality of my work. Not my gender. But I also can’t ignore a biological fact so does that mean I make my choice now and just live with the consequences whatever they may be?!
Because this is where the difference lies. For the most part men can make a decision to have or not have kids when they are 35 and then 10 years later when they have some kind of life-altering epiphany they can, biologically, change their minds. Biologically, women cannot change their minds. We do not have that luxury. And yes, there are a lot of other options out there than just having your own biological child but I won’t get into that because that is not what this blog post is about.
Okay, now, take me for example. Right now I am happy with my life the way it is. I have a great family, wonderful friends and a career that I am very proud of. I have no real current aspirations to get married. And having kids is the furthest thing from my mind. Currently my mind is going at 120 km/h wondering what the next 5 years is going to hold for me CAREER wise. All I can think about is what should I do next: should I stay here in Vancouver? Should I go to Toronto? Should I do my MFA in NY? All options. Not once have I thought “Hmmmm….I wonder how this will affect my ability to have a family.” Not once, that is, until yesterday.
Now I am more aware that the choices I make in the next 5 years could severely impact my life in unalterable ways. That blows my freakin’ mind. Because what if 10 years from now I have a life-altering epiphany? I would pretty much be fucked.
So here I am at 29 pretty much making decisions that could change the rest of my life because right now having kids isn’t even an option. I still have to break up Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson and then convince him to fall in love with me. That could take awhile. But seriously, my career is only just starting. There is no stopping. And I really can’t foresee a time in the next 5 years when that fact is going to change.
And, that is it in a nutshell: we cannot foresee what the future holds for us. We all, men and women, make choices every day that impact our futures. Maybe not unalterable, life-changing decisions but small decisions that set the course for the path our lives will follow. And when I signed up to be a “artist” I knew what I was getting myself into: a life where the path is anything but “normal”. So, I guess that is my question really. Is this a choice that we all make, men and women, as artist’s to lead an unorthodox lifestyle? Or do women actually get the shit-end of the stick? Is the truth still, after all this time, that women can’t have it all? That at some point we make sacrifices and that those sacrifices either come at the expense of our families (or lack thereof) or the expense of your career?
Hmmmm… I guess I’ll have to wait 10 years to get the answer to that one. In the meantime, what do you think?