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Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

Chivalry; Machismo; Feminity; Feminismo

6 replies

garlicbutter · 22/03/2012 00:36

This has been triggered by Dworkin's post on Sunshine's 'Pubs and Clubs' thread here.

Dworkin wrote about being pestered by a bloke on the dance floor, to the extent that she needed backup from her friends to make him desist. Basically, that man harassed her; he was wrong; if it hadn't been for her friends, she'd have been in a pickle. Which is one thing, and a whole significant issue by itself.

But, for some reason, her post transported me back to my five years in sunny Brazil. The dynamic is so different, and yet so similar. Dance is massive to the culture. The style of dance is, even with contemporary club music, proscribed by generations of moves & music.

I'm not sure how to write what I want to express - any other Lat-Am feminists care to contribute? (Will continue in next post.)

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garlicbutter · 22/03/2012 00:57

I learned pretty quickly to:

[a] Learn the traditional moves. Dances vary by region, but all depend on hearing the rhythm and song independently, moving hips and feet accordingly. There are national undersongs: learn how they go, and you've cracked the half of it.

[b] Prioritise the dance before the company. Dance by yourself, and 90% of people there will respect your space (the stray 10% will be male.)

[c] Accept men's offers to partner - most dances are 'partnered' - but walk huffily away from any twit who thinks your ineptitude = sexual vulnerability.

[d] Protect English and American men. This was part of my job but, my goodness, did they misread signals!

... I'm toot tired to write what I mean in this post. sorry. Am hitting Send anyway, because I know there are some women on this forum with comparable-but-different experiences of 'a cultura ritmica' and all that goes with it. Would like to hear & discuss, but will have to revisit when my batteries have some charge Blush sorry again.

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sunshineandbooks · 22/03/2012 11:51

Your time in Brazil sounds wonderful. Smile

Not having been anywhere near there I probably can't contribute to this thread anyway, since you are talking about direct experience of this culture. But out of interest can you confirm what you're asking about, please? Is this a discussion about how gender roles vary in Lat-Am dance culture? If so, sounds quite interesting, especially the bit about acting as guardians for tourists - a sort of extension of the female gatekeeper role.

I shall follow with interest. Smile

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garlicbutter · 22/03/2012 13:24

Thanks for your lovely reply, sunshine. I admit to drunk-posting and my thoughts are no less jumbled today! But, yes, there's a lot of stuff about gender roles and how we can mistakenly draw generalisations from our own cultural environment. They may not be 'general' after all.

I really do want to pull this apart and take a close look at it; have been wanting to ever since I did that tourist job! I'm not sure I'm equipped for the analysis, though. I guess I'm hoping some more rigorous feminists here will likewise have experience in macho cultures and something to say about it.

I found it liberating in many ways. It's hard to put my finger on why (once I take out the social freedom that comes with being a foreigner.) Brazil and Argentina have strong female presidents. It's not that machismo doesn't oppress women, more that the entire dynamic is different from ours.

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Dworkin · 22/03/2012 14:25

Ooooh I prompted a thread! How exciting.

I understand, I think, what you mean. I spent about 8 years in Ireland and went to ceildhis (I know the spelling is wrong). These dances are held for all age groups and there is the dynamic of dancing. However you don't have to partner with a man, and certainly if you do it's not considered overtly sexual, even when you do the ceildhi swing. I've been going to these dances since a young girl, and danced with brother, sister, mother, father, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. Mind you the speaker/leader always seemed to be men and there was often a section in the dancing when men went solo. I was never comfortable with this but have been to some ceildhis in England and this aspect was missing, thankfully. It may be the case in Ireland.

However, I know that zumba dancing is based on latin music and I would only dance in an all woman setting.

I'm interested too on the gatekeeping aspect of the Tourists (and only the men from these countries misreading the signals). Seems also like colonialism to me as well, though one could argue that as a sex class women are colonised.

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garlicbutter · 22/03/2012 15:55

Grin Dworkin. Your ceilidhs sound great fun - I can't even begin to do Irish dancing, and it would probably kill me to try now!

Still floundering on where to start, I gave myself a huge attack of nostalgia by looking up the for the Lambada song. In the film, Mean Dad smacks his daughter for dancing. Later, another of the dancers pulls him in to dance - whereupon he discovers it's not rude, but pure fun. That sums up the proper approach to what can appear a very lewd activity. It's not sex, it's a dance. Dancing with a partner, you mirror the other's body movements; the fluid precision of that is what throws observers off.

My male tourists were incapable of understanding this. They thought the girls were gagging for sex. Nearly all of them obstinately refused my attempts to teach them 'mirroring', turning the dance into a horrible bump & grind. Some men, and nearly all the women, did get it but the blokes' behaviour was generally very offensive.

In a similar vein, an extraordinary number of my Rio tourists really thought all young Brazilian women were hookers! Despite the logistical impossibility of that, they were blindsided by all the shimmering sexuality and local etiquette, which says you are friendly to everyone.

I'm going to have to stop here as am still completely jumbled in my thinking. Hope somebody's got something to say about the video, anyway. (And, yes, I can do that Grin)

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garlicbutter · 22/03/2012 16:18

Two more Brazilian dances, both very old traditions:

(I can't do it properly - too fast)


Just been looking up Zumba, too, Dworkin - it is samba based! Why would you only do it among women?
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