Warning to Women | Letters | Chicago Reader

Warning to Women 

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To the editors:

I am writing in response to Diana Spinrad's review of Curious Theatre Branch's The Weirdly Sisters [March 30], and in response to the play itself. The review makes several good observations--although I would go further in stressing that the play "takes itself a little too seriously."

The Weirdly Sisters has a much more serious problem than that, though, which the review does not mention at all: Because the playwright did not think his subject through thoroughly, he has ended up with a reactionary, anti-feminist story (I assume this was not his intention).

The play starts out well, with the sorcerer Esoterator in his opening monolog making the connection between the academic world and male power and domination. After this, however, the focus shifts to Eme Weirdly's failure as a mother. (Her big betrayal of her daughter, related in a long, melodramatic monolog, was her failure to explain the facts of life, so that daughter Moxie was taken by surprise by her period.)

Of course, child neglect is a serious problem, but to blame it on a woman's desire to pursue an academic career plays right into the hands of male chauvinists and the women who love them.

Specifically, the play has two main problems: First, it represents knowledge and academic pursuits as a seductive sorcerer tempting Eme away from her family obligations, ignoring the fact that knowledge is also a real source of power long denied to women. A perfectly legitimate desire for education thus becomes a woman's giving in to temptation. Second, the play conveniently has Eme become pregnant by two strangers, so the sisters have no father. Otherwise, one would have to ask, Why does the mother take all the blame? Why do mothers in general continue to bear such a disproportionately large share of the responsibility for child rearing? Why is it still so difficult for a woman to have a career and a family?

One may argue that these are questions for a sociologist, not a playwright. Maybe so. But by glossing them over entirely, The Weirdly Sisters turns into a warning for women to keep out of such men's affairs as learning and stay home with the kids.

Alicia Burns

W. Oakdale

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