Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Yeah, swing dancing is sexist. So what are you going to do about it?

Sexism and misogyny in Australia has been in the news of late (in case you're not from here or have been hiding under a rock). There's also been a whole lot of new discussion in the Lindy Hop community about the nature of sexism in our community. See on blogs for example here, or on multiple stalkerplant threads e.g. here. A lot of the commentary has been less than great, especially from many men (seriously bros, what's up with that? Just try reading it for a change, you might learn something.)

There should be more male voices in this conversation talking about what we're doing to stamp out sexism and misogyny (rather than talk about the problem (or their perceived lack of it), which all too frequently gets done to the exclusion of female voices  - see the all male panel which had it appeared in the Green Left Weekly as opposed to Channel 7's Sunrise would have been ironic as opposed to pathetic).

So without further ado and in no particular order here's what I'm doing/will do:

Follow More
Our heteronormative paradigm of men=lead, women=follow leading to sexism has been covered well by others. Much of the time this is discussed in the context of women leading and everyone solo dancing as a means to end the hetero paradigm. However we're not really going to deconstruct this without men playing their part i.e. men following women, men following other men. Bonus - nobody ever needs to talk about 'balance' ever again and we can make our scene friendlier to people who don't identify as hetero male or female.

I'm going to follow more - I enjoy it and it's fun. And if it helps get rid of some of the bullshit in our scene - that's a bonus to me.

(And if you really think that men leading and women following is the best paradigm, read my other post here).

Dance more with men
See above.

Use my words
This is one I'm getting better at, but I still find myself asking people to dance without actually asking them to dance. I find it really annoying when people do this to me, so I'm going to stop doing it to them.

Volunteer more
In the great western tradition of giving women all the underpaid and under-appreciated jobs women seem to do the majority of the organising and volunteering (at least in the Australian scene). This is bullshit.

So the next opportunity I have, I'm going to stick me hand up to help out at a dance event.

Stop using "There's too few leads men" as an excuse
The idea that leads are this sought after commodity is bad, bad, bad. It creates a sense of entitlement, reinforces conventions about men following or volunteering and leads to general asshat behaviour. So whenever I catch myself thinking this, saying it or using it online I'm going to stop myself and say  'bad thoughts' and come up with the real reason as opposed to the bullshit one.

Call other men out on their bullshit
Whether its pick up artists (both in the crazy dips and tricks on the social floor or hitting on women meanings of the word), inappropriate touching, being a jerk or general creepiness I'm going to tell guys when they're doing stuff that ain't cool. Sure it might not make me any friends (but hey, do I want these people as my friends?), but it might help other people call them out too. Peer pressure ain't just what's making you take drugs in high school - it can be used for good here.

Now this is my list. Feel free to use it as your own, but I think its better we come up with these things ourselves. I welcome your suggestions in the comments (and yeah, they're moderated - if you're an asshat it won't get published).

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