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Joan of Arc Slated for Desecration by Gender Ideologues by Tristan Vanheuckelom

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Joan of Arc Slated for Desecration by Gender Ideologues

Joan of Arc (1882), a 52.7 × 45.7 cm oil on panel by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), located in the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

French folk heroine Jeanne d’Arc is the latest victim of the continued onslaught upon European culture. As reported by The Independent, the Shakespearean Globe Theatre production called I, Joan will “question the gender binary.” To that end, the Catholic saint shall be employing the pronouns ‘they/them.’

So as not to offend certain sensibilities, Joan will be portrayed on stage by ‘non-binary’ actor Isobel Thom. The play, set to premier on August 25th in the open-air theatre, is written by the equally ‘non-binary’ British playwright and actor Charlie Josephine. A perusal of his bio teaches that he is “proper passionate about making art that’s honest, visceral, sweaty,” with a focus on stories revolving around “working class women and queer people.” Helmed by Ilinca Radulian, the production is described by its creative team as “a powerful and joyous new play which tells Joan of Arc’s story anew.”

If that was not exciting enough, their prospective audience is invited to join them “in the wooden ‘O’ and feel the heat of the sun and the pulse of Joan’s passion, and then “with open hearts and raised voices, dance and cheer” with them on a rediscovery of the saint’s story, ending with the promise—or threat(?)—of it being “alive, queer and full of hope.”

For those whose thirst remains unquenched, a link to an organisation called ‘Gendered Intelligence’ is provided; there one can find out more about the play’s themes or “learn about allyship.”

In a separate statement anticipating any backlash, Michelle Terry, artistic director of the theatre company, defended the choice of pronouns on historical grounds, since they are “not the first to present Joan in this way, and we will not be the last.” Supposedly it can be traced back “as early as 1375.” Yet in the same passage, in what appears to be a contradiction, she says that theatres are not concerned with ‘historical reality,’ and that they produce plays, in which “anything can be possible,” even dragging Shakespeare into it, who “did not write historically accurate plays,” and “took figures of the past to ask questions about the world around him.”

This justification smacks of being little more than a cheap ploy however. Apart from gratifying the creators’ egos, as well as pleasing critical gender theory acolytes, one questions what a ‘non-binary’ Joan could conceivable add to what is an already impressive life. 

Concluding her statement, Terry affirmed that

for centuries, Joan has been a cultural icon portrayed in countless plays, books, films, etc. History has provided countless and wonderful examples of Joan portrayed as a woman. This production is simply offering the possibility of another point of view. That is the role of theater: to simply ask the question “imagine if?”

At first glance, her concluding paragraph might seem reasonable enough. Yet in recent years, these ‘what-ifs’ move in one direction only, ever contributing to the blight observable in our cultural spaces. Even more, this production in particular scraps what made its protagonist so inspiring in the first place: the very fact of her feminine nature—a young girl who put her virtues to work within a (especially then, quite logically) male-dominated field.

Born into a peasant family, Jeanne’s wholehearted devotion to God and France commanded the respect of the men around her. Eventually leading them into battle, she brought them many victories in their desperate struggle against the English. 

In the meantime, many who admire Joan and her story have expressed their irritation on social media.

Ex-Reuters journalist Sophie Walker tweeted: “When I was a little girl, Joan of Arc presented thrilling possibilities about what one young girl could do against massed ranks of men. Rewriting her as not female and presenting it as progress is a massive disappointment.”

Journalist Allison Pearson wrote: “When I was a child, I had a book of inspiring women through history. Joan of Arc was one. That book and those amazing women meant a lot to a timid little girl. How dare @The_Globe try to cancel history’s inspirational women.”

Tristan Vanheuckelom writes on film, literature, and comics for various Dutch publications. He is an avid student of history, political theory, and religion, and is a News Writer at The European Conservative.

I, Joan runs from August 25th to October 22nd at the Globe Theatre.