"Trifles" was a wonderful way to end the course. I feel like it certainly tied together all we have been learning and discussing throughout this semester. From Ms. Hamovit's thoughts on Renaissance women to Mr. Ogden's questions on the relevance of feminism today, we saw many depictions of what we have been discussing before our eyes last night.
From Ms. Hamovit's discussion, we talked a lot about what Renaissance women's roles were. These were very strict boundaries and portrayed in literature often (the other component of her presentation with Shakespeare!). Looking back on the blog I wrote for this presentation, I almost justified how our society is today and what a great change feminism is asking for. In "Trifles", we saw the way women of the early 1900s acted--and they did, indeed, act a lot of the time--and got a sense for what it might have been like living during that time. If I had lived then, I feel as though I would have had a harder time justifying the way the men treated women because it was so condescending and blatantly disrespectful. Today, with all the progress feminists have made, I can see why I initially thought that we can easily be seen as extremists, but learning more about where we have come from, I understand now why feminism has been so important.
Next up was Mrs. Gold and the Shakers. The fact that a woman founded this society seemed to affect the entire outcome, as you might expect. It was a realistic society with equal roles and expectations and, really what feminism today wishes to achieve. Seeing "Trifles", and realizing that the Shakers were begun in 1770, more than 100 years before the play was written and took place, is quite impressive. Additionally, from Ms. Ruhl's talk as well as OC's and Mr. Doggett's, we learned some more history of our movement and certain especially influential names and events. This opened my eyes more to the importance of feminism and how incredible it as a movement has been. I think that it has taken us pretty far, and am optimistic that we will continue on an improving trajectory. This began, all thanks to women such as Susan Glaspell, Ida B. Wells, and Norma McCorvey who were willing and courageous enough to write and speak out.
Without these people and events showing the rest of society their wrongs, Title IX would never have come to be, even if it is not the most effective piece of legislation. This is a common lesson, I think throughout the women's movement--even small steps that don't do that much are valid and important, arguably essential steps. Sure, we get frustrated with the Equal Pay Act and how little it has done, but without it, where would we be? It is the first step to making a large change that affects a lot of people, so it is only natural that it will take a long time. In "Trifles", the patience of the women was obviously wearing thin, however they still knew of their power and how to use it and understood the life they were living. Without acknowledging where our society is and being aware, we would not have been able to accomplish any of the changes we have.
Women's portrayal in the media today, and in art in the past, directly related to the illustration of women in "Trifles". Seen normally as objectified objects of pleasure, we see in "Trifles" how this translated with everyday life, with the teasing and condescending speech. Finally, with Ogden, we can see through this play and how many personal chords it struck with all of us still today, that feminism is definitely still relevant today. Sure, we have achieved a lot, but that is due to the feminist movement and we will not make any more progress without it.
I loved "Trifles" and thought the actors and actresses were incredible. Our discussion afterward was also incredibly interesting, especially the women's comment on gender being a socially created system, which it most definitely is. I wonder what it would have been like way back when the genders weren't identified and recognized as different as they are today?