In May 2011 I wrote a post called A difficult conversation about sexual violence in swing dance communities
I need to bump this post again, because it’s been getting a stack of traffic lately.
This was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written. When I started linking ideas together, and mapping out the way gender roles and ideology contribute to sexual violence in my community, it nearly broke my heart. I was so, so upset by the connections I was making. I didn’t want to realise these things about my people, my places. I started being afraid. Afraid of my own dance spaces – the places I felt best about myself. So I decided that rather than letting this sorrow eat me up from the inside, I’d do something about it. Fear and anger and despair will eat you up and finish you. So you need to step up, do something, make something, change something. Be a force of good. Remind yourself that jazz dance is built on a history of resistance to oppression. It is radical politics. It is a powerful tool. A powerful idea.
I am not going to accept the general response to these issues: that violence towards women happens on the street (not my street!), in bars (not my local!), to ‘slutty’ women (not my women!), and is perpetrated by rough/violent/aggressive/’low’/male strangers (not my friends! not me!)
Sexual harassment happens in your lindy hop community. In your city. To your friends. And it is perpetrated by people you know, maybe even by your friends. This makes it your responsibility.
The only logical response to this is sadness, despair, RAGE. And then action. Do something. Do something!