Joan | Radio review
At the time of the resurgence of a popular discourse around female oppression through movements such as #MeToo, Joan attempts to address the struggle for gender equality through the added struggle of classism. Set in a town in the vicinity of London, the audiodrama, written by Cressida Peever, focuses on the relationship between a young girl and her mother as they learn about the ways in which patriarchy constructs gender roles. Together they begin to defy these constructs as they find solidarity among the female populations of their hometown and London, where the protests that Joan unintentionally incites take place.
Directed by Katherine Farmer and performed by Stephanie Booth, the drama is touching and hopeful in its outlook. However, its treatment of feminism is dated, as it promotes the perspective of white women whose quest for power views the white man as the ideal. The idea that the struggle of a woman begins with the demands of her work at home is the premise upon which the story is formed, and it is understood as a negation of power that is confined to the feminism of white bourgeois women.
The idea of greater pay for traditionally lower-paid work, which forces women to orchestrate a destructively time- and energy-consuming routine, is offered as a solution that is a commendable call for justice and equality. However, the manner in which the call takes form is hugely problematic, as it further simplifies a highly complicated issue. The schoolgirl, Joan, becomes the face of the movement for female empowerment – Greta Thunberg style. She creates a gathering in her hometown that quickly escalates to protests-cum-riots in London. Given that there are Million Women Rise marches annually in London that continue peacefully, this dramatic plot is offensive to the movement and reveals a deep lack of knowledge of protest culture, the community effort involved in mobilising, and the politics of police-protester relations that can result in violence in protests.
Joan is available on Apple Podcasts now.