Dance Articles > Why Men Don’t Understand Sexism In Partner Dancing

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by SDsalsaguy, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. Jag75

    Jag75 Active Member

    I'm not trolling. In partner dancing there is the leads role and the follows role.

    This is inherently sexist.
  2. Jag75

    Jag75 Active Member

    The reality is that the issue is complex, and this is compounded by the fact that partner dancing can only be sexist due to its very dynamic.

    The discussion should be around respect, not the miniscule nuances of what does and does not constitute sexism. In salsa a wrist lead is actually required when leading a free spin, for instance, yet it's been described as sexist. May as well abolish salsa then.
    ocean-daughter likes this.
  3. Jag75

    Jag75 Active Member

    If I open the door for a woman, is that sexist? Some will say yes. "Sexist" is not a derogatory term. It simply means being influenced in the way you treat someone according to their gender.

    Others will consider it treating the woman with respect. I like to see it as the latter rather than the former.

    At the end of the day these discussions can never truly reach a conclusion due to the simple fact that we each hold our own opinion based on our life experience. If you talk about respect, however, then that is something we can all agree on, and the discussion becomes far less complex.
    CaliChris10 likes this.
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I'm trying to come up with a single example of 'sexist' or 'sexism' being used in a non-negative sense. There isn't one. When used in reference to views on gender it specifically means holding a negative view of the gender being targeted. A sexist is a person who views one gender as inferior to the other.
    Lioness and fascination like this.
  5. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    The use of the term sexist is loaded and negative and not the same as being inherently designed for traditional gender roles
    JoeB, Rhythmdancer and IndyLady like this.
  6. Jag75

    Jag75 Active Member

    Ok fair enough. I think if you respect the other person whether it's a man or woman then you're not likely being sexist. A rough lead in this instance is not being respectful - is it being sexist though? Not sure about that one...
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  7. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    I think this is a very fair question, and personally would content that just because one is being a rough leader in not inherently sexist. Someone newer to dancing, for instance, may very well not intentionally be being rough, or even understand that they are. That said, thinking that the way you "make*" a woman follow is by applying more force is very much functioning within a larger and structurally sexist orientation and framework.

    * Indeed, I would argue that the very notion that a man (as leader) "makes" a woman (as follower) do anything, *is* intrinsically sexist. Just as many people can act in a sexist manner unintentionally, so too here... as one becomes more aware, one can make different conscious choices. (And, tellingly, none of the better dancers I have ever met, from any dance genre, think about leading and following in this way.)
    Bradamant and Siggav like this.
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    this is where I think we need to differentiate between deliberate conscious sexism, and sexist behavior with no sexist intent...because yea, I think there are lots of reasons why newb leads may do some pushing, very little of which is about an intentional sexism
    JoeB and Lioness like this.
  9. CaliChris10

    CaliChris10 Active Member

    See I actually don't find it sexist because I don't feel I am inferior or less important because I follow and I don't think guys are superior because they lead. One wouldn't be with out the other, we need each other, it is a partnership.. so IMO we are equal on the dance floor. But I understand what you are trying to say.
    ocean-daughter and Jag75 like this.
  10. snapdancer

    snapdancer Well-Known Member

    I thought that generally women are better natural dancers than men... maybe they should lead.

    But disabused of that notion the other evening, watching a beginning group class with a couple of lesbian couples. The leaders were making the same mistakes as a newby male would. Bad leading is not necessarily sexist, it's probably because it's so difficult.
  11. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I seriously doubt any male leader thinks, "She's not following my lead. I am going to assert my dominance as a man and show her her place in society as a lowly woman by forcing her through this turn."

    He applies force because he doesn't know how else to get her to follow. How is that sexist when gender had nothing to do with his decision, only his desire to get the job done?

    And yes, I've seen female leads make the same mistakes as well.
    JoeB, danceronice and Rhythmdancer like this.
  12. Rhythmdancer

    Rhythmdancer Well-Known Member

    @twnkltoz you're so wrong. That's how I approach dancing. I like to dominate the lady folk on the dance floor. Show her that the patriarchy is the only way.
    Hedwaite, IndyLady and twnkltoz like this.
  13. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Rhythmdancer likes this.
  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

  15. Aggy

    Aggy New Member

    Hmmm, tough one. Reoccurring theme.
    The cited article of Rebecca ends with an advise to buy a book written by ... Rebecca...? hmmm

    I am not sure about Lindy Hop, I am in comps in international style ballroom dancing.
    The latter has evolved tremendously over the last 40 years and takes full profit of differing biometrics and biomechanical talents of men and women. Strength of men is combined with flexibility of women, like in ballet, like in modern. It has become very athletic, despite the fine clothes.

    The whole sexism-argument goes amiss when Rebecca draws parallels with society and the (original) social structures where ballroom dancing sprouted.
    However, during this Dancesport evolution, we witnessed a strong disentanglement between dance performance and etiquette/manners. When associating dancesport still with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the fifties of the last century, one would be shocked to see how present-day couples interact outside competition.

    If you take a look at advanced couples in comps, there’s still a good practical reason, for an number of close hold dances, to put the lead role with the men and follow role with women: Men are taller and have more overview, women are flexible and their moves often result in their heads being angled or even almost upside down, lacking such overview. It's much more a practical enabler than a gender thing. (We actually swap in practices. Instructive, but some figures become impossible.)

    Is this sexism? Hell no: as long both partners are comfortable with the roles.
    The enjoyment comes from the total combined performance, not from the role.
    In that sense it is like acting: is Anthony Hopkins allowed to enjoy playing Hannibal Lecter? Yes: because he enjoys the performance, not the role. It does not make him a killer in real life.
    I am in a fully equal relation with my partner and I would not want it otherwise.
    When practicing, half of the time is spent in analysis, reflection, arguments, sometimes heated debates; we take lessons to help us. There's absolutely nothing gender-specific, lead&follow or dominant/submissive in it. We both get bruised. Once done debating and agreeing on a solution, we take hold, assume our roles and try again.
    Sexism? No, I hardly recognize it in DanceSport where I am active. You only achieve high level performances in a fully equal and respectful relation. With different -enabling- roles during a dance, but not otherwise.
  16. Empathy is an under appreciated virtue. From my experiences men are lagging in empathy.
  17. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Women have far less empathy. Dancing comes much easier for ladies so they have very little empathy for men who suffer as beginner leaders.

    Too many women are mean and dismissive of men who are learning -- and that's one of the main reasons that there aren't enough experienced men in dancing.

    Women only have to blame themselves, but they prefer to blame men's sexism. Give me a break!
    JoeB and MaggieMoves like this.
  18. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    I don't think your wrong, until the last sentence. I don't believe women are completely are to blame for the lack of men. Society plays a huge roll in making dance look effeminate. But I do agree that women should be more empathic towards new leaders.

    But that you shouldn't discount the stories of woman who have experienced sexism in this community. I know I have, and so have many other women I have met. I have even experienced it on this forum, where men think we should only dress in skirts and be "excited" to wear such things. Or that we should look pretty for the men and that's our only role as a follower. Which is completely bull poop. We women dance because it's what we love to do, and quiet frankly men gotta get over us needing to serve their needs and find why they like dancing for them selves, and not for some external reason....
    IndyLady and FancyFeet like this.
  19. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I think..."generalizing" can be problematic....I think it is true that some women can lack empathy when dealing with a new lead, particularly if he happens to be their partner in all things....but I think it is also true that some men handle the uncertainty of not having mastered something very poorly and are more likely to blame an external source, like their follow....and that is a statistical fact....many studies have been done on the tendency of women to blame internal reasons for their difficulties rather than external ones where the opposite tends to be true of men....keyword=, I would add that this is less likely in women of a certain age who have grown tired of the dynamic :)
  20. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    There is truth in this, but IMO it's a point that needs to be made very carefully -- particularly in the context of this thread.

    As Fascination points out, generalization is a problem. The claims "men are lagging in empathy" (even though it's qualified with "from my experiences"), "women have far less empathy," and even "women should be more empath[et]ic towards new leaders" (though I substantially agree with Stash's post) all seem too broad to me.
    JoeB and stash like this.

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