Defying Gender Norms in Rowan’s The Bacchae 2.1

There is something unnerving about a man wearing a woman’s clothing. Just ask Buzz Bissinger. In this brief clip, he talks about his love for wearing women’s clothes, and why that doesn’t, in any way, make him “less of a man.” For some reason, the fact that the line is blurring between gender norms recently has made plenty of people uncomfortable, but it also a step that is being widely celebrated. Caitlyn Jenner being the most recent and prominent example of a transgender celebrity, Laverne Cox being the next, the doors are opening for everyone’s own gender interpretations and people are leaving their bias’ at the door.

Although there is a huge difference between transgender and cross-dressing, the fact of the matter is people are more accepting and even apt to blur the lines of gender.

This is a prominent theme in the Rowan play, The Bacchae 2.1. This is a production that tells the tale Euripides wrote in ancient Greek times, The Bacchae. This play, even during ancient Greek times, deals with blurring the lines of gender, and it is commonly interpreted as a strong feminist play. (That’s a bit lengthy, but worth the read.) The women in the play reject the rules of Thebes, the city they are supposed to live in, and instead of staying at home and doing the duties of the home, they leave the city, go into the mountains, and celebrate Dionysus, the God of fertility and wine, in sexual acts and all around good times.

In order to infiltrate the women, Pentheus, the king of Thebes, dresses up as a woman and goes into the mountains, ultimately to his death. (It’s an ancient Greek play, guys, we should have seen this coming.)

The opening of the play, the women are found giggling and hanging all over the men. They are more or less props.
The opening of the play, the women are found giggling and hanging all over the men. They are more or less props.
When the men talk, the women sit down quietly and listen.
When the men talk, the women sit down quietly and listen.
Dionysus, the cross dressing God, is taken and thrown into jail for his outfit, and the fact that the women worship him.
Dionysus, the cross dressing God, is taken and thrown into jail for his outfit, and the fact that the women worship him.
Dionysus has an intoxicating affect on the women in Thebes.
Dionysus has an intoxicating affect on the women in Thebes.
Dionysus helping Pentheus come up with a way to infiltrate the women in the mountains.
Dionysus helping Pentheus come up with a way to infiltrate the women in the mountains.
Pentheus transforming into a woman's clothes, and actually enjoying the process.
Pentheus transforming into a woman’s clothes, and actually enjoying the process.
Dionysus and Pentheus have a pseudo-sexual experience on stage in the form of a dance. Pentheus previously expressed his hatred of homosexual acts, but now he doesn't appear so offended.
Dionysus and Pentheus have a pseudo-sexual experience on stage in the form of a dance. Pentheus previously expressed his hatred of homosexual acts, but now he doesn’t appear so offended.
The women in the mountains explaining their sexual prowess and fantasies to the newly found member.
The women in the mountains explaining their sexual prowess and fantasies to the newly found member.
Homosexual acts are celebrated by both men and women who worship Dionysus, and Pentheus' mind begins changing.
Homosexual acts are celebrated by both men and women who worship Dionysus, and Pentheus’ mind begins changing.
Alas, it came too late. Agave brutally murders Pentheus after tearing his wig off and discovering a man trying to spy on them.
Alas, it came too late. Agave brutally murders Pentheus after tearing his wig off and discovering a man trying to spy on them.
Dionysus stands erect as his female followers stand behind him at the closing of the play.
Dionysus stands erect as his female followers stand behind him at the closing of the play.
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