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Dance & Sexism in the US - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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June 22nd, 2008

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01:30 am - Dance & Sexism in the US
I'll start this off by saying that I know almost nothing about dance. However, a few months ago, teaotter saw a bit of the new show America's Best Dance Crew, and liking to watch various forms of athletic dance started watching it. Eventually, I started watched a couple of episodes and then became interested. I now know a (very little) bit more about hip-hop dancing, and agree with one of the judge's comments that the future of Broadway dancing is (or at least should be) significantly influenced by the best modern hi-hop/street dancing. I also learned yet more about just how pervasive sexism is in the US

In the first season there were clearly two separate dynamics going on. The most initially obvious fact was that of the 12 starting teams, two of them were significant better (even to my relatively untrained eye, but also clearly to the judges) than all the rest and that the final round of the competition would (or at least should) come down to these two dance groups facing one another, with either one having an excellent chance to win.

However, the other thing that rapidly became clear was the massive sexism of the viewers. Every week, the viewers voted on their favorite teams and the two with the least votes had to compete against one another, with the judges choosing which one would stay. Skill was only a minor component of the viewer voting, most of it was gender-based. Dance groups which were all female or predominantly female were consistently voted in the bottom two. Eventually they were all gone and then the viewer started voting against the dance groups with any female members. The only way an all male group could end up in the bottom two was by delivering an absolutely horrible performance, and even then they were guaranteed to be competing against an all-female or mixed gender dance group. All female and mixed gender dance groups who were quite good were repeatedly voted lower than obviously less skilled all male dance groups.

Eventually, the competition got down to only three dance groups, the two obviously excellent groups, one of which was all male and the other of which was mixed gender, and a third group which was a fairly mediocre all male group. At this point, the viewers got to vote to eliminate one of these three remaining groups w/o any voting by the (largely non-sexist) judges, and the remaining (and excellent) mixed gender group was eliminated because it got the fewest votes from the viewers. The remaining excellent group naturally won the competition, and I'm in no way competent to argue that they weren't superior to all of the other groups, but the overall dynamic definitely upset me.

The next season of this show started recently. Becca turned it on, and then turned it off after we saw two mixed gender, predominantly female groups who were both clearly very skilled competing against one another to see which one would be eliminated. Once again, the viewers' sexism is clearly apparent, which sufficiently upset both Becca and I that we had to turn it off. More than anything else the amount of sexism in the US makes me profoundly sad. Anyone who denies the large amount of sexism in the US is simply ignoring the abundant evidence around them.
Current Mood: sadsad

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2008 09:07 am (UTC)
Don't you think it might reflect the gender and age structure of the viewers and voters? I mean, if most of the viewers and voters are, say girls age 13, I can imagine they will vote for pretty dancing boys to a significant degree, just as they download boy band MP3's and think the guy from Transformers is cute.

Now, I'm sure we can argue that their choice is still sexist. But I don't think you can expect anything else.
[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2008 09:55 am (UTC)
I don't have any actual data, but the way its presented (and from the appearance of the studio audience) it looks to be a fairly equal mix of gender, with an age range mostly in the teens.
[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
I strongly suspect that the callers, especially the repeat voters, are probably overwhelmingly female, from my experience of teen dynamics.

But yes, the audience voting is what drives me most nuts about these shows. I enjoy watching dancing as well, and our household has been watching America's Next Best Dancer, or whatever it's called.

[User Picture]
Date:June 23rd, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)

Speaking of sexism...

Even in today's society, females in certain situations are rewarded more for incompetence than for competence. Usually, only a certain type of female can pull this one off.

She is either, in actuality or appearance, suffering from a physical or mental weakness (most commonly unsteadiness, flightiness, nervousness, or some combination of all three). She is usually fair-skinned, often fair-haired, and has long hair. She is of petite to average height, build, and weight. Her voice is high-pitched. She always acts very childlike, usually defers to others, and is a past master at generating sympathy for herself and appearing sympathetic, often getting away with violations of social decorum because of her "condition." Occasionally, this woman can even physically attack other people and get away with it.

Feminists usually detest this woman, and vice versa. If sexism were no longer around, females of this type would have no more incentive to keep up this game.

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