Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gender stereotypes

I've started a sort of game with myself lately... Test the gender stereotypes is what I like to call it. The more I tell people my son is in dance, the more I get the question, "What does your husband think of that?"

Perhaps because I have grown up with dance and more of the fine arts, it never phased me to question what men think of dancers.  Of course I've seen Billy Elliot and figured there are still some "cave men" out there living under a rock, but do people really question males in dance?  Yesterday I told a couple people about my son in dance, and how he just loves it. Patrick doesn't think anything of it. In fact, he loves that his son dances.  Maybe it is that both he and I are more in touch with the arts. He used to break dance, he is in artist; I danced, did some theatre, and lived for the stage.  Also, we both had some time of playing musical instruments.  It's fairly obvious we are both more inclined to the fine arts.  So in January this year when Elijah expressed his interest in dance after seeing his mama do a little living room performance on new laminate floors, we were both thrilled.

When people started asking me, "What does your husand think? My husband would not go for it!" I tell them he loves that his son dances.  It's a beautifull art, a wonderful skill, hard work, much discipline, and a wonderful form of expression.  What surprises me more is when some women tell me their husbands would never go for that.  I wonder, how is it okay that a young girl can play soccer and that is perfectly acceptable, but if a young boy wants to dance ballet, suddenly it is strange?  You know, back in the day it was primarily men who performed anyway.    During Shakespeare's plays, it was unheard of for women to act in the plays, even for the women's roles!! Yet somehow this gender shift took place where men can only dance hip hop/pop? Who is going to play Romeo or Prince Siegfried or Prince Charming for the classic ballet performances?  Who has ever looked at Gregory Hines or Sammy Davis Jr and thought they were somehow less of a man because they dance? Does anyone hear the name Balanchine and think, "What a fool." Heck no! You probably hear these names and think of great success.

Yesterday I told Patrick about my new "game," and he found it so comical.  He asked me, "Are some men still thinking it is the 19th century?"  Gosh even back then, ballet was probably more acceptable for men than some guys think now! To me, anyone who has to question the manhood of a male dancer has obviously never danced themselves.  I can guarantee you the male dancers you find on stage are twice as strong as Joe-Schmo on the street. I find it amazing, how far society can come with gender stereotypes, and yet how stagnant some are. Is it acceptable for girls to pick up a baseball bat but unacceptable for a boy to pick up a doll? Some embrace the girl who can play sports, they give her the high fives and the "Girl power!" roar, but where are the props for the boy who helps cook, or feeds the baby doll?  Really, as far as gender stereotypes have come for women, where is the progress for men?

I'm just incredibly grateful I have a man to help raise my sons without these silly gender stereotypes.  I see no problem with a boy who has the passion for dance, just like his parents.  I think the problem lies in other men who are insecure with their own manhood, and they are the ones who need to be questioning their masculinity.


P.S. On a side note, this is my first time trying a blog post on my tablet with a bluetooth keyboard... So if this post is full of errors, please forgive me! ;)

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