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“There is something in the female psyche that desires subjugation.” Actor Eileen Atkins on womanhood

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Harriet Hall
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Award-winning actor, Dame Eileen Atkins, has said that there is “something in the female psyche” which desires subjugation.

According to Atkins, some women would also enjoy being told to “go in the kitchen and shut up”.

Making the comments in an interview with the Independent on Sunday, Atkins, 81, who was awarded a Bafta and an Emmy for her appearance in the TV series, Cranford, and an Olivier for her role in Honour, said that the Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew was not as outdated as one might like to think.

The play, which was re-imagined in 10 Things I Hate About You, tells the story of Katharina, an out-spoken woman who must be married-off, so that her younger sister Bianca, can be wed. When Petruchio – a vulgar, terribly behaved man – learns of Katharina’s dowry, he agrees to bear the burden. Eventually, Katharina, the ‘shrew’, is tamed by Petruchio, and teaches the other women about the virtues of being an obedient wife.

Not exactly a tale of liberation, but Atkins disagrees:

cranford

Eileen Atkins (far right) in Cranford alongside Dame Judi Dence

“There are still a lot of women who would marry a man such as Petruchio, and get treated as Katherina does – and enjoy being told to go into the kitchen and shut up!” she says.

“I just don't think you can block out the idea that some women desire subjugation,” she continues.

The actor went on to justify her comments through the example of women leaving their homes to become jihadi brides, saying:

“The fact that Isis can attract women to go to a life in which they know they will be totally subjugates, I’m afraid shows that there is something in the female psyche that desires that.”

The actor also went on to say that people over the age of 65 shouldn’t talk about sex, saying:

“I can’t imagine why anyone would want to have that image of an old man and an old woman in the mind.”

Atkins’ one woman-show, Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins, is currently on stage at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.