I introduce myself as an actor. It's right there in the name of this blog. I can't remember when I last chose to call myself an actress. I don't know if it was conscious at first, but here's why.
I'm an actor because actors have more options. Actors play the hero or the comic relief or the villain. They're at the center of the action, the one the story is about. That's who I want to be. Actors are the total package - a voice and a body and technique and more.
I can feel objectification in the word actress - it's not too different from the word starlet, somehow. And starlets are usually hot or sultry or sexy, and not much beyond. For me, there's also something in this word that connects to the ideas in the poem/story 'Ladies First' written by Shel Silverstein and read by Marlo Thomas on Free to Be You & Me, the supremely awesome 70's collection of poems and songs and stories with an anti-gender stereotype message. The protagonist of 'Ladies First' is a 'tender sweet young thing' who goes on safari, and keeps insisting on special treatment, and meets an untimely end. I'm not looking to be treated differently because of my gender, and identifying as an actress feels like I'm asking for that.
Ultimately though, it comes down to this: there are women's films (chick flicks), women's novels (chick lit) and women's plays. But the other category isn't men's films, men's novels or men's plays - those are just called films, novels and plays.
I'd like to see the various 'stories for women' categories become 'stories for humans' categories. And I think part of the way to get there, is to use a gender-neutral term for what I do. I act. I'm an actor.
Do other people feel this way about the word actress? I'm very curious...