I’ve ben following the #wakingthefeminists debate in Ireland which was the social media response to the recent announcement of The Abbey Theatre 2016 Programme which, unfortunately, had only one play written by a woman of the ten plays programmed in total. I’ll raise my hand here and declare that I am an old friend of the Artistic Director Fiach MacConghail and given the activity on Twitter had reason to remember that I’d been the person who suggested he should join the platform several years ago.
I work with a lot of senior people around digital literacy some of which includes encouraging them to use social media to provide more open leadership. A key sign of course of whether they get it or not is how they behave when things don’t go as they might have liked. Do they stay open and accessible? Or do they suddenly become silent? So the debate was a testing one in this regard and I think it is to his credit that Fiach did not become suddenly incommunicado. I was also struck by the differences in the arts and culture sector and the gaming/tech sector. In the latter women who declare themselves feminists or express forcible options become the subject of horrendous abuse and trolling as evidenced by the whole #gamergate saga something that was covered in last years brilliant Inspirefest and which I wrote about in my blog Stamping Feet of Social Sword. While I’m sure there has been some negative feedback to the women participating in the campaign, what’s been amazing to see has been the open solidarity expressed around the world by so many women for Irish women playwrights and the need for greater gender parity in the arts.