Usable Performance Feminism for Our Time: Reconsidering Betty Friedan.

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Abstract

This essay uses Betty Friedan’s writing and persona as touchstones to consider how her ideas—and by extension second-wave feminism—have remained relevant to theatre practitioners and performance analysts with feminist goals. Styles in the acceptable “presentation of self in everyday life” as well as tropes in the portrayal of feminism in mainstream theatre paralleled both Friedan’s concerns in her six books and also, ironically, her increasing marginalization within the evolving feminist movement. Friedan was schooled in leftist unionism and also believed in the power of theatre to convey social ideology. It is worth examining these ideas in order to ask how the goals this essay situates as still radical can be addressed by theatre and performance. Much about the (feminine) mystique of stardom still remains at odds with whatever dramaturgical or topical inroads a playwright might make. The essay suggests that “third-wave theatre” (if there is such a thing) and present-day feminist per
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-364
JournalTheatre Journal
StatePublished - Oct 2008

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