What? I have to talk about rape and sexual violence and a continuum of disempowerment in dance AGAIN?!
It seems, so. Because some fuckers apparently didn’t get the goddamm memo.
Boys are told from a young age that whatever they do will be excused under the “boys will be boys” mantra, and that “boys will be boys” mentality leads to what I call the “BOILING FROG” problem of women’s sexual boundaries. I call it that because if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump right out, but if you put a frog into a pot of room-temperature water and slowly heat it to a boil, the frog will acclimate as it heats and never jump out, eventually boiling to death. Similarly, when we learn as young girls to tolerate “low-level” boundary violations like the ones we often are forced to suffer in silence at school, at home and on the street – bra-snapping, boob-grabbing, ass pinching, catcalling, dick flashing “all in good fun” relentless violations that adults and authorities routinely ignore – it makes it harder for us to notice when even greater boundaries are being violated, eventually leading to the reality that many women who are raped just freeze and fall silent, because that’s what they’ve been taught to do over and over since day one. You tell me what’s more infantilizing: repeatedly letting boys (and grown men) off the hook for their behavior because “boys will be boys” and we can’t ever expect any differently, or creating a consent standard in which all partners take active responsibility for their partner’s safety, and which acknowledges the truly diseased sexual culture we’re soaking in every day.
(via let my enemies take care)
Ken Lay, chief commissioner of police in victoria, made the point that sexual violence is a men’s issue
[This is pretty much what I wrote in the post A difficult conversation about sexual violence in swing dance communities. And this is why I argue that gender neutral language is important - not because it is an end in itself, but because the language we use to discuss an issue communicates not only the way we think about that issue, but the way we think we should think and act upon an issue.]
This what should we call lindy hop entry introduced me to the term ‘dudebro lead’ and I LOLed.
And then I got angry again, that we have to HAVE this term at all.
Someone hooked up The day I taught how not to rape which reminded me that it’s worth raising these issues again and again and again, because humans do, generally, want to do the right thing. Even if they are fuckwits.
Why the fuck do I have to keep banging on about this stuff? I feel like a broken record.
But you know why I keep going on about this fucking irritating shit?
Because on Monday I was yelled by three different men in three different cars as I tried to cross a road.
On Tuesday a sound guy mansplained how to turn the volume down on a mixing desk as I was DJing, after I noted it was the same model I’d learnt to DJ on EIGHT YEARS AGO.
On Wednesday a middle aged male student arrived at our class venue, and even after my female teaching partner and I introduced ourselves as the teachers for the venue, he continued to speak to the only man at the table, and then spent the next two hours interrupting us in class, telling our female students how to dance and generally badmouthing and disrespecting them, ignoring our instructions, and finally getting angry and trying to bully us into letting him do the level 2 class next week after I’d just told him he wasn’t ready and eventually said “I’m not talking about this now. It’s your decision, but you cannot do this level 2 class again.” He had done perhaps four lindy hop classes in his life ever.
Thursday I was yelled at by two different men in two different cars as I crossed (a different) road, and then some 20-something cockwit oggled my tits before looking into my face and realising I was telling him to fuck off.
Yesterday a venue manager openly mocked my understanding of live music politics, and mansplained how promotions work. He then proceeded to explain to me who Stephen Cummings and Reg Mombassa are. I chose not to tell him I’d been at a party with Reg Mombassa on the weekend.
The other week I was told (once again) that women leading isn’t ‘normal’ and that a woman can’t really lead the way a man can, and that this robs male students of a proper learning experience. I was also told I couldn’t do public promotional gigs because it gave the ‘wrong impression’.
This is WHY I am still fucking angry about this shit. EVERY DAY something fucking irritating happens to me BECAUSE I am a woman and not a man. It just makes me SO ANGRY. SO ANGRY!
But the part that really makes me angry, that makes me so determined to keep raising these issues and NOT ignoring them, is that I am a perfectly competent, capable woman, but these constant niggling bits of shit just wear me down and make me question my abilities.
And, finally, this is why I don’t just accept that this is ‘how men are’ or ‘how things are’:
Because on Tuesday night a whole big band full of young men politely introduced themselves to me or said hi if we knew each other, and then had conversations with me and my female teaching partner just as if we were ALL HUMAN BEINGS, and more excitingly, as though we were ALL COMPETENT PROFESSIONALS. And if they wanted to flirt (with the women in the room – not me so much :D), they just flirted and it was SUPER NICE because it’s possible to communicate sexual interest in a respectful way.
Today a musician answered some of my questions about the live music industry with respect and common sense, as though it was PERFECTLY NORMAL to have questions and to share ideas with a woman in a respectful, professional way.
On Wednesday when I just decided that that was IT and I had had ENOUGH and told that unpleasant man a) he couldn’t do as he liked, and then b) that the conversation was OVER and I wasn’t interested in his opinion, no one died, I wasn’t beaten up, my (male) partner didn’t feel the need to step in and ‘save’ me, and the whole thing was just RESOLVED.
On the last few times I’ve been social dancing women have asked me to dance and the fact that I’m a woman was just NOT AN ISSUE. And this is really just NORMAL for me, as a woman who leads – it happens all the time, and it’s actually so ordinary no one even notices!
The male dancers I worked with on Thursday night were totally ok, and in fact, probably didn’t even register the fact that our training session was coordinated by women. They were just HAPPY to be a part of a friendly supportive group, getting shit done.
And I read this nice piece by a man, about bodies.
If every man I dealt with was a complete fuckwit, I would give up on all this shit. But they’re not. They’re NOT!
Plenty of men are capable of treating the people around them – whether men, women or children – with respect. And THIS Is why I have NO PATIENCE with fuckwits who’ve decided that being a woman makes me – and you! – less capable, more vulnerable, less important and generally an object to be disrespected.
We are so not done with this conversation yet. SO NOT DONE.