It’s an irony as old as time. Women may be seen as fit subjects for every conceivable violence, but they are not suitable for fight in war. From recent conflicts in Iraq, Afganistan and elsewhere, women's roles in the armed forces seem to extend little past the 2D. Physical, mental, societal violence is fit and fair game. But for a woman to fight in times of conflict has, until very recently, been seen as a frightening or morally disgusting transgression.
Dropped may deal with a fictional Middle Eastern conflict with Australian personnel (the show originally ran at the Adelaide Fringe earlier in 2016 and was awarded the prize for Best Local Theatre Production), but it’s topical concern to British audiences is amplified by July’s lifting of the ban on women serving in close combat roles in the British Army. The performance poses the question to the audience: what effect does the violence of war have on women?
The answer, if there is one reducible answer, is that there is a difference, if only because of the warped saint-like expectations visited on women: those of holy mother, or kindly protector. They may experience the same traumas, deprivations and horrors as the male soldier in times of war, but the concern visited from outside isn’t to do with them as soldiers, but as mothers or uprooted occupiers of the domestic space.
We are led as an audience to believe that Sarah Cullinan and Natalia Sledz’ characters have witnessed the harm of a child, though it remains shrouded in mystery whether this a just an effect of PTSD related trauma. The effects of David McVicar’s direction leaves it purposefully ambiguous and offers no ready made, trite conclusions as to the effects of violence. (FG)
Dropped played at the Pleasance Courtyard - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dropped
British Army’s Women Soldiers to Go Into Combat- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12060225/British-Armys-women-soldiers-to-go-into-combat.html
On Motherhood and Violence- http://makhzin.org/issues/feminisms/on-motherhood-and-violence
Women, Trauma and PTSD- http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/women/women-trauma-ptsd.asp
Gender based violence and the global hypocricy that fuels it- http://www.humanosphere.org/opinion/2016/06/gender-based-violence-misogyny-and-a-global-hypocrisy-that-fuels-it/
Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War- http://www.unicef.org/sowc96pk/sexviol.htm