What Is Feminist? –The Dragon With Many Heads and The Dragon With Many Tails
I’ve been talking and thinking a lot lately about feminism and feminist actions. Most vividly, the topic came up around a play I wrote (Because I Am Your Queen). From the beginning, I wanted to create and foster a feminist project that empowered women both in its development and doing, as well as in its content.
In other words, I wanted a play that practiced what it preached, without preaching, of course (I hope)! What are feminist practices in the creation of a play? In its production? In its rehearsal process?
For that matter, what are feminist practices full stop? Canadians, for example, have been wrestling lately with the question of what constitutes a feminist government.
One might not think that a man from the 17thcentury would have much to say about feminism. Without intending to, Jean de La Fontaine once again provides a framework for our thinking with one of his fables.
An envoy from the Turkish Sultan, so the story goes, preferred the singular authority of his ruler to the widespread powers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where he was visiting.
A German said to him: Our Emperor has his dependents, each of whom are so powerful in their own right, that they could support a full army of their own.
The envoy, a man of sense, said: I know by their renown what each prince can offer by way of forces. This reminds me of a strange, but true, adventure I had. I was in a secure place, when I saw the one hundred heads of a hydra passing above a hedgerow. My blood turned to ice. As frightened as I was, I experienced only the fear, without the injury. The animal’s body could never have come near me, nor even found an opening in the hedge. How could it with so many heads and even more eyes pointed in different directions?
I was thinking back on this adventure when another dragon, with only one head, and many more tails, passed by. There I was, once more seized with astonishment and terror. The head passed and the body and every tail. Nothing got in their way. One led the way for all the others. These same truths apply with your Emperor and ours.
Four and a half centuries later, the multi-headed dragon of the…