Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Actor vs Actress


Hi-diddly-dee. An actor’s life for me. Or should that be actress? Ever since Whoopi Goldberg uttered the words…

“An actress can only play a woman. I’m an actor, I can play anything.”

…the debate has raged over what the correct term is. Some leapt on the bandwagon instantly and entered a full tirade against anyone who dared speak the name ‘actress.’ Feminism reigned supreme and regardless of what bits you entered the world with, the correct term was actor.

I completely understand the notion behind what Whoopi said but is it entirely necessary? Why should the term ‘actress’ be seen as derogatory? Personally I’m very proud to be an actress and everything that it stands for. Why should we be ashamed that our job title instantly means that people understand that we are a female performer? Does this mean that we’re now embarrassed to be called women? Will this topic force me to ask any more questions? Keep reading and find out… 

Now I should be proud when people ask me what I do for a living. I love my job and the ridiculous things that I get to do on a daily basis. Yes, I dread having to go through the ‘no I haven’t been in EastEnders’ speech and I hate explaining that I’m not working on anything yet and there’s no chance that they’ll have ever seen me in anything. But there’s something I hate most of all. It’s what I should damn well call myself. The term ‘actress’ has never bothered me but as I mention it, I feel the dark shadow of feminism looming over me. I get the same feeling I get when I let a man buy me a drink and the betrayal of the sisterhood takes over. The problem is though that, more often than not, you’re explaining your job to people who don’t act. Therefore, if you tell people that you’re an ‘ACTOR’ then they instantly think you’re an idiot. It will take all their willpower not to do the ‘ooooo, an actorrrrr’ (you know the one I mean) and even if they don’t do it in your face, you can see the struggle behind the eyes and you feel like a fool.

A sad thing happens when you type in the word ‘actress’ into Google. Go on, do it now. Yep. The first bloody thing it brings up is ‘actor.’ Even the world’s biggest search engine instantly corrects you and makes you feel like you share the same sexist views as your great Uncle George. Instead of just humouring you and brining up an informative Wikipedia page that would include a handy amount of facts so that you could easily write a blog about the history of the actress, it leads you, like the frightened little politically correct beast it is, to the page that it thinks it should do. 

I realise that the term actor was originally set up to just mean a performer and there was no gender bias to the word. It just happened to mean a male performer because us ladyfolk weren’t allowed to do silly voices for a living so as soon as someone said the dreaded word, everyone knew they were talking about a bloke who gets his kicks running around on stage. It’s only when the world realised that a female role is the part that women were born to play that they came up with a new word to describe these new and interesting beings. 

But most importantly, what’s wrong with a bit of differentiation between men and women anyway? Weren’t we all happy that the term ‘actor’ meant a male performer and ‘actress’ meant a female performer? Does this mean that we all need to campaign to be called men regardless of our gender? And what about male performers? If men want to jump on this trundling bandwagon going nowhere, will we find Dominic West suddenly declaring…

“An actor can only play a man. I’m an actress, I can play anything.”

No. Of course not.  And if he does, I bet we’ll all be clamouring to be called an actress again…

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