What I learned about Feminism by Dancing
I've been taking dance classes for a little over half a year, and it's safe to say they've changed my life... I've always wanted to dance, and finally taking the time to get through the initial stages of looking like a ungraceful heffalump has satisfied my heart and love of beauty as nothing else has.
Shall we dance?
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT FEMINISM THROUGH DANCE
I believe in unabashed womanhood, which has led me to explore aspects of feminism and femininity. I know and celebrate women in positions of business, medicine, arts, being a mom, small business, cooking, manual labor, and teaching. Women make fantastic leaders in many things and yet we often miss one aspect of femininity; the unmitigated joy of being skillfully led by a man. It doesn't make sense on the surface. How can a woman simultaneously believe in strong womanhood and being all she can be, and yet allow herself to be led?
It's a dance.
When I first attended the class I thought through every move. Broke it down, and tried to anticipate it. It was stressful, my arms were stiff and sometimes I simply couldn't figure out where I was supposed to go. After a few classes a guy told me, "I've got you. Just give me your arms and I'll lead."
A whole new world opened up.
How can a woman be successful in things she does, have a vision, and fight for her values and people, and still learn to know what it means to have a man protect her? It's a paradox because our traditional understanding means that this limits a women to doing and being a very small part of what is really possible for her talents and abilities, and feminism revolted against this atrophied definition of womanhood. But we may have gone from atrophy to creating a monster.
While I'm dancing it all makes sense. The subtle touch to my shoulder to show me which way to go. The skill of a man who directs the move and then gets out of the way so it can be accomplished. The responsibility he takes for me if a move goes wrong, even if it was my fault. The way he lets me monopolize the beauty of it, even though he is doing the heavy lifting. The exhilaration of the dance I don't have to think about because he's directing and I get to spin until I'm gloriously dizzy and flying with joy.
The men at this class wouldn't tell me I can only eat certain foods, cannot become a politician or doctor, or only wear lace and pink. However, when it is time to dance the man leads me. It would be a mockery of a dance for both of us to try to lead. If I am tired of the dance, I tell him and I sit down. It is never a matter of control.
LEADERSHIP IS NOT CONTROL
Men are typically leaders in dance, though from what I've experienced it usually means that they do all the heavy lifting for less of the glory. Leading in its truest form is really a servant hood. Men, as I've observed, have a humility that is better suited to this - even though in its raw form it might take an animal turn. It does not mean that they hold control of all the systems of the world or relationships. Many women may actually have the authority in a field and this is good.
I think it means that in relationships, both parties are happier if the man directs the dance. Both are of course involved in decisions, both execute the moves and see the vision, but one leads. It's actually a subtle art, full of grace and bravery; I hold much respect for the men I know who lead this way.
In every relationship there is give and take. A dance with a spineless woman is not a dance at all, and so it is in a relationship with a woman who does not have a voice or decision; it would be miserable for him and her. She still needs to be a complete whole person with ultimate responsibility for her spirit, body, and mind, but the man, he gets the hard part of leading the dance that is life. To do this well is really a massive accomplishment, because it means they have to become an authority on the subject.
But then I think that this too, is a unique form of exhilaration. Men and women are not the same, and it's unfair to assume that the same things excite us. As much as I can simply let myself go in the beauty and freedom of a dance, to a man the exhilaration of syncing motion for two people could be ultimately satisfying. To direct, to lead, I think is exhilaration for him.
TO BE PROTECTED
You're intelligent, so you've caught on that this whole narrative, while first hand experience, is also a metaphor. It's not for a moment to suggest that women shouldn't take positions of authority in fields of expertise, but to consider that men make amazing leaders, and they naturally do so. A healthy, whole man won't want totalitarian government, he won't even want to make your decisions for you.
Feminism wouldn't be as big of a thing as it is if this concept hadn't been abused many times in the past, however I'm saying it's ok if you trust him enough to let go and let a friend or close family care for you a little. Put his hand on your back to help you up a step. Open a door. Carry something you're perfectly able to carry yourself. Let him go the extra mile to help you without being so darned independent.
In a deeper level of relationship the one man can walk through crazy, dark things with you. Let him take some of the pressure from you, and protect you. It doesn't mean that you won't have your own share of bravery and courage and sometimes, you'll return the favor to him. It simply means he's doing what he was born to do. Being a leader. Forging the path. Fighting off the wolves.
There are a thousand nuances to leadership, and many more men who all have their own style. There can and must be grace on either side for mistakes and mis-steps. And of course women can, and will, lead at times as well. Some women dance amazing solos. But when the time is right may I gently suggest you take a dance class too? As I have, you may learn to let go of inhibitions, worries, stresses, or fears.
and JUST DANCE.
If life truly is a dance, there might be a little following involved. Just sayin'