Fun with Gender Discrimination on Broadway

Mirah Curzer
Dec 30, 2015 · 3 min read

Over the holidays, I took my family to see Fun Home in New York. The show is excellent and truly deserved its multiple Tony Awards. I highly recommend it.

Ok, now on to the bad news.

When the doors opened half an hour before the show began, the now-ubiquitous line for security formed. We all shuffled toward the entrance, waiting patiently to have our bags checked by security before we showed our tickets and went into the theater. And then something new happened. The ushers started announcing:

“If you don’t have a bag, skip to the front of the line.”

So everyone without a bag hopped out of the line and breezed through the ticket check, leaving everyone with a bag still waiting in the lobby.

Time for a pop quiz — Who got to skip the line, and who had to wait?

Here’s a hint. The line for bag check looked like this:

Photo courtesy of Joshua Stanton

Of course, almost all the women had purses, and very few of the men had bags. So what really happened was that the women had to wait in line to get their bags checked, while the men got to waltz through without the hassle.

Look, I get that it’s necessary to check bags for security purposes. Obviously. But that is not the issue here. A man in a giant puffy overcoat is just as likely to be hiding a bomb as a woman with a microscopic evening bag. The theater next door — showing Wicked — was checking coats as well as purses.

And you might say this isn’t really discrimination because women don’t have to carry purses. They chose to tote around those fashion accessories full of unnecessary crap, so now they should just stop whining when they have to stand in line to get their bags checked. You made your bed, ladies, now shut up and lie in it.

But no, wrong. Women do have to carry purses. The vast majority of dresses and skirts (what the average woman wears to the theater) don’t have any pockets at all. And even if you’re not wearing a dress, just try fitting a wallet, keys, and a smartphone into the pockets of a pair of women’s jeans. Seriously, try it. I mean, some of my jeans don’t have a single pocket big enough for an old flip phone, much less a humongous iPhone 6. There’s just no way around it — purses are completely necessary for women.

Making people with purses wait in line while the purse-less get to skip ahead is a significant burden on women. And it’s actually more of a burden than it might seem to let the men skip the line, because that means that by the time the women get through, the concessions line is already thirty men long. That means there’s no time for women to get anything to eat or drink before the show starts.

So while the women stand in a long line to have someone poke around in their purses with a metal detector, the men grab a beer and some candy, then have a leisurely stroll to their seats.

And all this is happening at a feminist play, based on the memoir of Alison Bechdel, lesbian cartoonist and creator of the Bechdel Test.


I expected a lot better, Fun Home staff. A lot better.

Mirah Curzer

Written by

Lawyer. Feminist. Photographer. Slurper of noodles and drinker of scotch.

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