You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Gender Issues’ category.
The front flowerbed at Arb’s and my place is starting to take off – perennials that I’ve planted over the couple years we’ve owned the house, are established enough now, that they can dedicate some energy to blooming! Of course, weather that’s good for flowers is also good for weeds, and our weed crop is plentiful, so I was out pulling weeds yesterday evening.
Working in the front yard is not a peaceful and relaxing experience for me. I feel self-conscious about bending over with my back to the street and my butt in the air and often get into weird positions trying to avoid it. I’m on edge and there’s a constant stream of snarky comebacks and verbal self-defense going on in my head, along with self-pep-talks about how this is my yard and I have the right to be in it and what I look like while doing yardwork is nobody’s business.
In a word: men.
Like last night when a carload of young men appeared seemingly out of nowhere, yelled something about my fat ass, and peeled out with a screech of tires and raucous laughter.
This shit doesn’t happen super-often – not every time I’m out in the front yard, for example. But it’s often enough that anticipating it and steeling myself against it, takes a non-negligible portion of my mental CPU cycles. It doesn’t matter that not every man who passes by harasses me, and that in general not all men harass women. Enough men harass women often enough, that being on guard against it is an almost-constant thing you do, if you’re a woman.
The tango that they dance in Argentina is a very, very different dance than you might see on Dancing with the Stars. It’s highly improvisational, and allows not only the leader, but also the follower, to make artistic decisions. Everything is communicated between the partners through physical contact, whether it’s a slight shift of the shared center of balance, or physically pushing with hands, feet, or legs. One guy that I taught tango to, who was into martial arts, commented that Argentine tango is very much like judo, except that the object is to NOT fall down.
Here are Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs dancing to “Gallo Ciego”, by Osvaldo Pugliese. By where they put little flourishes with their feet, you can tell they’re very familiar with this particular recording of this particular song, but the steps they do together could all be communicated with lead and follow, no need for pre-planned choreography.
One particularly interesting thing about Argentine tango is that because of its origins in a time and place where men significantly outnumbered available women, there’s also a tradition of men dancing with men, without any gay connotation to it – not that gay guys don’t dance tango together nowadays and make it very, very homoerotic. Here are brothers Enrique and Guillermo De Fazio, dancing a milonga – a country dance that was one of the precursors of tango. It uses many of the same steps as tango, but goes a whole heck of a lot faster. Because they do break apart a fair amount, some of this performance probably had to be pre-choreographed. Note how every once in a while they’ll trade who’s leading and who’s following. Enjoy the hot guy-on-guy milonga action!
Because tango music is in four beats per measure, you can actually dance it to any music that’s in a multiple of four. Here, a fan has taken an Argentine tango video, and redubbed it with VNV Nation (the band I introduced you to last week), and it works. In “real life” it’s hard to dance tango to industrial music, because when you go to venues where they play industrial music, you usually wear big, stompy boots, and they tend to be too grippy to spin well.
How many of you out there have either heard these words or said them to others? I’m willing to bet most males out there has heard it at some point and many women have told the males in their lives these words. It’s part of the social narrative, these constructs of what gender is and how someone should and should not act. Men are strong, men don’t cry, men are athletic, men demand respect, men settle their differences physically and most importantly men don’t show weakness.
Of course, this is all tripe. These social constructs are ultimately just that, constructs. And like anything constructed, it can be deconstructed. When these things are deconstructed, the seem silly and pointless. However, pointless as they may be they are still exceptionally harmful.
And of course that’s where Be A Man comes in. These three words are the epitome of how patriarchy harms everyone. These three words are toxic. These three words have done so much harm to so many men that I am ill equipped to describe exactly how. Fortunately for both me and you the good people at The Representation Project are. They are currently creating a film tackling this very issue. I urge everyone to watch the trailer for this upcoming film: The Mask You Live In.
Role reversal. It’s a fantastic way to check if a situation is horribly wrong. A brilliant example of this is found about 3 minutes in on this pretty great video. It follows the point I made in a previous post, but in a new, wonderfully hilarious way. Watch, laugh, be better equipped to deal with anti-choicers.
Ms.Betty Bowers thoughts on the 2014 Olympics.