Mujeres alegres. We are down to our last four meetings. I am very proud and very excited about all the texts we have read, and all the ideas we have shared.
Fefu and her friends was the text we read for last Saturday. The discussion was lively (especially in trying to understand what happens to Julia at the end) and some of the questions had to do with interpreting what Fornes has to say about women and about consciousness; we also tackled whether the text was a feminist, anti-feminist, or simply an all female cast play.
Here are some quotes on Fefu and her friends by a variety of critics. What do you think?:
Repeatedly, Fornes is telling the audience through Fefu and her friends that the brightest women are brought down by madness, whether actual or implied. This is the fate that Fefu desperately wants to avoid, and she seeks refuge from this by pretending to be fine, by hiding within the domestic sphere. Women like Fefu take care of their houses, prepare food for their families and guests, and otherwise behave in a feminine, subservient manner. Sue and Christina are superior examples of domesticated scholars. Fefu is quite the opposite. She tells Cindy and Christina, ‘‘I like being like a man. Thinking like a man. Feeling like a man.’’ Fefu has few avenues for dealing with her problems—a failing marriage and depression—because the world she inhabits prefers to treat women themselves as the problem rather than as human beings who need help. The underlying implication is that ‘‘Woman is not a human being. . . . Woman generates the evil herself.
Fefu and Her Friends challenges our precon- ceptions about life and the theatre through boldly drawn women, temporarily divorced from relationships, trying to sort out the ambi- guities of their lives. Julia’s wound in Fefu is our own. Fornes provides no answers, but her women make startling strides in confronting the oppressive environment of prescribed rela- tionships in art as well as in life.
Fefu shoots Julia rather than her husband Phillip and, in doing so, takes the place of the men in the ‘‘joke’’ who objectify women to the point of annihilation. Notably, in Part One of the play, Julia remarks of Fefu’s use of the gun, ‘‘She’s hurting herself’’; inasmuch as taking up the gun is a male-associated strategy of dom- ination, Julia’s observation is correct. In this Lehrstück, then, Fefu’s male-identification is ultimately as self-destructive and ineffectual a strategy of resistance to women’s subordination within patriarchal culture as Julia’s hysteria.