I never thought I would be treated differently for my gender in 2014, until I played a character living in 1795. Stephensonville Colony is a restored colonial village where actors bring history to life. I was employed as a character there for the longest six months of my life. Working there, I felt like women’s rights were set back at least 50 years!
As a new drama BFA with a minor in history, I thought Stephensonville would be the perfect place to share my craft and mastery of an old-timey British “ahck-sent” (lol!). It turned out that it was just a ploy for men to control me. From the moment I was hired at Stephensonville, I was told what to wear, where to go, and what to say when a visitor pointed out the fire extinguisher in the stables (”GET OUT”).
Worst of all, the policies were totally regressive! My character Alma Goodwife’s only job was taking care of her kids, her husband, and their home. I could not be the mayor, the blacksmith, or even the town crier, but had to play Susie Homemaker and churn butter all day. It was like these people had never even heard of Lean In! I ask you, what are we teaching our children when this is the female role model they see on their field trips? (Well, this and Bernadette, the town whore. I applied for her part but wasn’t busty enough.)
It simply wasn’t acceptable to me! I decided that Alma would be a revolutionary and stand up for her rights. Unfortunately, every time I did, I got in trouble. When I wore pants instead of a dress, I got written up. When I tried to purchase land in my own name, I got written up. When I told my husband that I was divorcing him, I got put in the stocks for disobedience and was told that technically, I was his property. And then I got written up.
When I spoke up about sexism at one of our town hall meetings, I was told that women couldn’t vote for at least another hundred years and I should have gone on break a half hour ago, didn’t I bring my lunch today? I replied that I forgot my lunch and was planning on just grabbing a salad if anyone wanted anything, and no, I was not going to stand for this patriarchal bullshit!
Long story short, I was fired immediately. I was also tried by the town council and found to be a witch, which made it very difficult to collect unemployment. Still, in my heart of hearts I will never stop fighting for the rights of colonial women! Also, I got a job on a Disney cruise, which pays better and is way more fun (unlimited mangoritas, holla!). It’s a real Cinderella story!