I’m reposting this link to my 2011 post A Difficult Conversation about Sexual Violence in Swing Dance Communities.
The bottom line is this: these men (and I am talking about men, here), are not doing these things in a vacuum. Other men will have noticed that their behaviour is inappropriate. But they did not call this man out because he is a high profile teacher.
It is your job – as a human being – to say something when you see people doing inappropriate things, or when they make inappropriate jokes or comments. There is no excuse. If you saw something and didn’t speak up, you enabled it.
This sort of grooming and then assault take place over longer periods of time. There would have been times when someone saw something. Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you do the decent thing?
If you had even a niggling suspicion, why didn’t you act on it? Why didn’t you speak up?
If you are a man, this is how you can step up and be a real man: call out another man on inappropriate behaviour.
Here’s a good guide:
– If someone is a teacher in your scene, particularly a guest teacher, it’s not appropriate for them to make sexual jokes in class. At all. This is an important place to start, as it sets up the terms of the class and scene culture.
– It’s not appropriate for guest teachers to make sexual jokes. Yes, I know that sounds a little conservative. But that’s the point: teachers need to be a bit more conservative.
– It’s not appropriate for them to initiate sexual relationships with students. Yes, there are fuzzy points. But If the student is much younger than the teacher, it is 100% not ok, because we have two points of power here. If they want to begin a relationship, they need to end the teacher-student relationship. If the younger person is under 18, it is illegal. And not ok. It is over now, before it begins.
Look, let’s just make it clear: sexualised jokes in class. Not ok. Just stop that shit now.
I have many more things to say on this topic, but I just can’t.
But, once again:
Speak up when you see bullshit behaviour. Right now, as I write this, I can think of a few high profile international male teachers who are definitely inappropriate in their manner. Everything from sexualised jokes to the sort of nasty buddy-boy sniggering about women in the scene (and their bodies). If I heard them, if I was that buddy there, I’d speak up. Take a risk, yo. Become the better man. Call them on their bullshit.