The Incendiary Sexual Politics of ‘Burn This’

In Burn This, currently in revival at the Hudson Theatre, male force is the prelude, perhaps even the key, to female seduction. Here’s how I explain it: to be socialized as female is to be told that a man knows your desire better than you do. If what a man wants to do is force you to kiss him, who are you to say you don’t want to be kissed? If what a man wants to do is hurt you, who are you to say you don’t want to be hurt? I do not mean to deny female agency; I mean to contextualize it. Can a woman willingly submit to a man? Yes, and in any number of ways. But she inevitably does so under the umbrella of patriarchy, her desires not defined, but in some way colored, by its shadow.

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