Get ready for my most fun blog post ever!
Here’s the deal: No one wants to be sexist. Well, maybe some people do, but we don’t respect those people. And we sure don’t love having those people in our dance community.
So yeah, we don’t want to cling to false gender stereotypes to justify discrimination. No one really wants to use their gender’s status to dominate others. We don’t mean to be sexist!
But intent does not equate to impact.
Or as they say, “Actions speak louder than words, thoughts, and intentions.” I added that last part, but it’s pretty true, eh? As much as I want to change minds, actions are still the most important thing.
Anyhow, this is fabulous news! Why? Because:
Today’s post gives 25 possible answers to the question, “How the hell do we act less sexist?”
Important Note #1
You can’t be completely non-sexist. It’s not about perfection; that’s unrealistic.
When you try a dance move and it doesn’t work, you don’t shrug and say, “Well I meant for it to work.” No. You analyze it, figure out what went wrong, then try it until it gets better.
Easy to say, a little harder to do.
I know the word sexism comes with a lot of emotional charge. If you’re getting stuck in your thoughts or feeling guilty, remember: What you DO is more important. Don’t go for perfect. Aim to do a little better than yesterday.
Important Note #2
Going about your business-as-usual feels comfortable, yes? So doing the actions below should feel a little uncomfortable.
That’s okay; you learned to dance, didn’t you? That’s the type of person you are: Confident enough to try hard things, because you value those things.
You take charge of your actions! Why? Because it feels good!
25 Ways to Be Less Sexist In Your Dancing
Instead of a list of things to avoid, these are concrete, proactive behaviors.
As you read through this list, consider which of these actions you’d like to try. Remember, it’s not about being perfectly non-sexist. No one can attain that. It’s about doing fewer sexist actions, which is a lot easier.
1. Learn the opposite role, and dance it socially.
2. Encourage your friends to learn the opposite role.
3. Practice both initiating and responding skills (equal-opportunity connection).
4. Dance with people who practice both initiating and responding.
5. Encourage your follow friends to take more initiative in the dance.
6. Encourage your lead friends to be more responsive in the dance.
7. Wear whatever the hell you want to a dance, instead of what you’re expected to wear based on your gender.
8. Ask your partner whether they would like to dance the lead or follow role, even if you already know their preferred dance role.
9. Ask your partner if you can switch roles for the next song.
10. Ask people to dance regardless of their gender.
11. Ask people to dance who are outside traditional gender norms.
12. Refer to dance couples by both of their names (instead of saying, “I think [lead’s name] should win!”).
13. Take private lessons with both women and men.
14. Take classes from instructor pairs who share teaching responsibility equally.
15. Take classes from women who lead classes.
16. Take classes from instructors who spend equal time teaching follows and leads.
17. Take classes from instructors who encourage role switching and/or who teach equal-opportunity connection.
19. Watch and share videos that showcase dancers outside of gender norms.
20. Watch and share videos of creative routines that don’t rely on traditional gender norms.
21. Challenge people who spread sexist or gendered dancing ideas.
22. Start conversations about sexism and gender in partner dancing.
23. Listen to and support people who are feeling the negative effects of sexism in partner dancing.
24. Rethink the way you talk about partner dancing in relation to gender.
25. Rethink the way you teach partner dancing in relation to gender.
That’s right, sexism keeps your brain stuck in a narrow groove. Sexism limits you for no good reason at all! Plus it makes dancing more boring and dull. BOO to boring!!
Doing any of the above pushes you to improve by exposing you to the incredible breadth of possibilities in your dancing.
These actions also bring you closer to the dance community. They give you experiences that open your eyes. You will absolutely learn things about your friends after trying any of these.
Take Action Now
Start small. Pick one action to try, and write down when you are going to do that action. For example, “Next time I dance with so-and-so, I’ll ask them whether they want to switch roles.”
Can you think of more actions? Leave a comment below, and tell me another thing you do (or can think of doing) that is less sexist.