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Dancing season is rapidly coming to close. Not a moment too soon, I must heartily add, as I will miss nothing about the hot chaotic mess that is hosting a Dance Festival. Children running, crying, scurrying about, being chased by frazzled Moms – all to the backdrop of shitty canned music and the omnipresent sickly smell of too much hairspray. One can feel the anxiety in the air as troops of children are herded about for their stiltedly choreographed time on stage. So many shades of awesome; but not the reason for this post today. Today we look at the larger issue of the replication of the patriarchal beauty standard via the innocuous vehicle known as the teen Dance Festival.
I see this happening multiple times during the festivals I work. A distraught daughter being made up by her Mom in preparation for some sort of dance routine that will be judged and graded during said competition. Young girls being preened and made up to look like something they are not. Not all, as in the above picture, are really that into the entire process. Yet, the show and the make-up must go on. They are groomed into dancer approved appearances like this:
The question I have is this – how important a quality is ‘sexy’ for female dancers? The pictures provided certainly seem to prioritize a certain look: Lithe, heavily made up, and much skin showing. Does this standard apply to all dance? Of course not, but in dance festival land as I’ve seen, step 2 could be considered the norm.
Against the backdrop of our societies standards, “step 2″ can send a ruinous message to girls/women about how they should look to be successful in their personal pursuits and society in general.
How did dancing get to be like this? We need only to look at the standards set by society in general for women.
The cultural transmission of these toxic norms is carried across generations – the norms ingrained on the mother are inscribed onto the daughter as she grows up and looks to her mother to help cope with being female in our society. So, the in the dance festivals I observe, I can see this transmission of patriarchal norms in action. Small children are plucked and primped, made to wear revealing clothing and generally forced to embody what is considered to be ‘sexy’ as per the male-gaze. This process is only made possible with the cooperation and willingness of older women to groom their children into what has been deemed as an acceptable female pursuit by society. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be examine more and unpacked to find ways in which dancing can be made less of a grooming tool of the patriarchy and more of an actively fun pursuit for children who want to express themselves in a venerated art-form.
Let it be said that I am not against the art of dancing, but rather, the poisonous patriarchal outer shell, that has encased much of the art-form within its clutches.
Another great strip from Tatsusya Ishida.
I’m curious as to how many times we need to see incidents like this. Misogyny via the expression of normative patriarchal values at it very finest in dear old Cowtown. Go take a look at the clip from CBC Calgary with reporter Meghan Grant.
“FHRITP — or f–k her right in the p—y — is a phrase men scream at (for the most part) female reporters. It’s rude, it’s degrading and it’s harassment. It’s happened before. It’ll probably happen again. But today was different. Since the Flames made the playoffs, I’ve heard numerous stories from reporter friends of harassment along the Red Mile. So-called fans screaming obscenities at reporters. So-called fans trying to get women to show their breasts. So-called fans behaving badly in the name of the Flames. Today, I’m doing a story on the #SafeRedMile movement. People doing things in an effort to discourage harassment (often sexual) along 17th Avenue during and after games.”
Two dude bros took it upon themselves to share their very important opinion (laced with male entitlement) with Meghan and the world. And here is the very best part – when women complain about stupid misogynistic shit like this they are not taken seriously, or dismissed as generalizing.
Of course #NOTALLMEN! … (warning on video for misogyny, harassment and language).
What many #notallmen defenders seem not to realize is that there is a critical mass of men out there that condone this sort of behaviour. It may not be *you* personally or your mates, but this shit is prevalent enough that it still remains socially acceptable to do so. So dudes, are you feeling unfairly accused, indignant even that you would be so slavishly generalized about?? Let me assure you, being catcalled and harassed like this is *far* worse than the righteous rage you may be feeling.
So suck it up, man up, and call this shit out when you see it happening around you because the female half of the human race should not have to deal with this kind of harassment (that happens daily).
We can see the #NotAllMen at work in the comments section, allow me to highlight a few…
i am a man and i do not shout things like this at anyone, yet this reporter chooses to stereotype all men as engaging in this behaviour. this story is offensive to me as a man, and sexist.
Fascinating. Obviously if I am not doing it, it cannot be a thing. But my feelings are hurt because men as class tend to act this way toward women. We need to focus more on my manfeels and less on those women being catcalled and harassed.
The FHRITP is a small issue completely blown out of proportion by the media.
Is it crude? Yes. Is it considered unacceptable behaviour? Yes. Does it represent more than 1% of men or sports fans? NO.
It seems the CBC can’t get enough on this issue. Be done with it already and move on!!
Oh this is all just trivial shit as it never happens to me so can we please just move on as it clearly isn’t a problems for dudes…
Is it a remote possibility that somehow the “man” in truck collaborated with the interviewer?
Maybe just a strange coincidence?
*Cue X-files music* – It must be a conspiracy by those damn double XXers to make men look bad! Unpossible! Ibeing a man, am offended that people like me do this, thus rather than try to see the problem I’ll label a conspiracy so I don’t have to change one fucking iota.
Being female in our society presents a different set of challenging obstacles that women must face *every* day. I suggest that we start listening to, rather than dismissing, what women have to say.
Amanda Hess on Misogyny Spotting –
“These are forms of male aggression that only women see. But even when men are afforded a front seat to harassment, they don’t always have the correct vantage point for recognizing the subtlety of its operation. Four years before the murders, I was sitting in a bar in Washington, D.C. with a male friend. Another young woman was alone at the bar when an older man scooted next to her. He was aggressive, wasted, and sitting too close, but she smiled curtly at his ramblings and laughed softly at his jokes as she patiently downed her drink. ‘Why is she humoring him?’ my friend asked me. ‘You would never do that.’ I was too embarrassed to say: ‘Because he looks scary’ and ‘I do it all the time.’
Women who have experienced this can recognize that placating these men is a rational choice, a form of self-defense to protect against setting off an aggressor. But to male bystanders, it often looks like a warm welcome, and that helps to shift blame in the public eye from the harasser and onto his target, who’s failed to respond with the type of masculine bravado that men more easily recognize.”
From an article by Glosswitch published on the New Statesman.
“The underlying thought behind sex-positive feminism is conservative and unimaginative, fearing a sexless void should patriarchy ever vacate the space it currently fills. And yet the truth is, those who question objectification aren’t afraid of fucking. They are not the swooning, pearl-clutching prudes dreamed up by misogynists and sex positive feminists alike. They’re just taking sex positivity one step further, by recognising that no one’s choices are made in a vacuum but that everyone needs to be respected as an autonomous sexual being. That includes you, but it includes me too, and it also includes billions of others. This is where things get complicated. It’s not all about you. It’s not all about me, either. We need a world which accommodates our differences but to create this requires a fundamental change in the whole context of sexual choices.
Let us be clear: feminism is out to screw patriarchy. It’s not there to be wheedling and apologetic. It’s not there to teach women to cope with life as subordinates. It’s not there to promote a chirpy, can-do response to a cat-call, a hand on the arse, a tongue down the throat, an unwanted grope or a rape. And if you’re thinking “all this sounds a bit judgmental,” I do understand. I know words like “patriarchy” and “male dominance” make people feel uncomfortable (I’d call it “feminismphobia” if it wasn’t time we stopped pathologising dissent). I know some women have a deep-rooted fear of how feminism could change their sexual landscape. To support something which is ultimately for everyone – but not specifically for you – is difficult, but feminism is not about misusing words (empowerment, choice, freedom) to cover up the things we don’t want to see. We’re here to knock down the entire edifice, not repaint the walls.”
Boom! Boom! – Shots Fired.