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Boys Dancing

September 15, 2015

I am Feminist because I love men.

I believe that if we can fix the world for boys and men, then we will also have fixed it for all of us.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about men and masculinity recently. I have been thinking about masculinity especially from my perch as the mother of two boys.  I am furiously angry at the horribleness that the world throws my boys. At all little boys.  I’m angry at the assumption that boys will inherently be violent and mean just because they are born boys.

Yet WE are the ones who take innocent, generous, happy little boys and contort them into the dehumanising cages of what we think men should be.  We have made the world not a kind place for boys and I believe that repairing the damage is very much part of the feminist project. Not its entirety, but a critical component.

One of my absolute favourite videos is this one of Sergei Polunin gracefully dancing to Hosier’s ‘Take me to Church”  The song and this video by David LaChapelle open the floodgates for me in ways few things do.

The combination of Sergei’s life story, the violence he has had to endure in his short life, and his renegade existence as the ‘bad boy’ of ballet, together with the heart rending lyrics of Hozier’s song about the violence that gay men have to endure because they do not fit into our narrow definitions of masculinity make me angry.

I remember my son’s kindergarten when he and the other little boys were not allowed to join in on ballet class because, has he announced at home one day after school, “boys don’t do ballet, ballet is for girls!”  We found out that the little boys had been pressing their noses against the windows outside the classroom watching the little girls dance to the music inside.  The teachers wouldn’t let the boys in to participate.

His father and I promptly took the matter up with the school, signed him up for ballet class, and every day he came home from school he and his father watched YouTube videos of famous male ballet dancers.

A week later he came home and announced that boys can be pilots but girls can’t fly airplanes.  So of course we pulled out pictures of Kenya’s own Koki Mutungi among others.  And the week after he declared …

We thought we were stemming the tide. Turns out we had only put a finger into they dyke. The world is a deluge of what boys and girls can and can’t do.

Sigh.

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