Ba-ack step, tri-ple step, tri-ple step, ba-ack step, spi-in left…
I had way too much fun swing dancing this weekend. When I sat down to blog about it on my personal blog today, I started realizing just how much gender roles are infused into that seemingly-innocent passtime. I thought back to my comment in response to Tom’s giving-up-music post, how it was admirable to be willing to give up something you like because something else is more important. I realized swing dancing might be that for me. Now, I know I only just got back into it, and it’s not an ingrained part of my life (yet; it very well could be soon). When near a thrift store today, I stopped in to see if they had any heel-less shoes I’d want to wear dancing.
The difference between music/secular music and dancing is the music is a personal morality issue, which the prolific YAR posters tend not to be concerned about, while the dancing definitely could contribute to social sexist pressures and all that.
It seems sexist because the primary initiators were men, men were the “leaders” while women were the “followers,” the “leader” part involved deciding what to do and communicating that to the “follower” who was obliged to do it, and men got to wear comfy shoes while women were faced with fashion vs. sustainability. Not to mention the whole setup was decidedly heterocentric. A few women, probably straight, did dance with each other for lack of men, but I’m quite sure straight men would not have done the same thing if there had been more men than women.
On the other hand, some women did ask men to dance, and I didn’t hear any women, including me, get turned down. As I’ve heard in other dance settings, the man’s job as leader is not to draw attention to himself, but to make the woman look good. That could be seen as counter-patriarchy, but it also could be used as a way to make women look like ornamental objects to be viewed by men.
While the “experienced” men were glad to help teach the “inexperienced” women the moves, the “experienced” women did the same for the “inexperienced” men. I hear it’s interesting to try, as a follower, to teach another person how to lead.
What do y’all think? Am I being too serious about this? Should I just go, have fun and leave conversations about gender, roles and sexual identity to a different setting? Is this something I should discuss with the friends with whom I went?