Flutterby™! : On Square Dancing and women in the military

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On Square Dancing and women in the military

2013-06-14 16:50:06.881106+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

On gay and straight square dancing, heterosexual male privilege, and Australian Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison's message regarding unacceptable behavior (YouTube) and Morrison's speech to the 2013 United Nations International Women's Day Converence in the comments.

(Please click through, if only for the pull-quote I grabbed from that latter speech trascript.)

[ related topics: Sexual Culture Work, productivity and environment Conferences ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-14 16:50:13.696295+00 by: Dan Lyke

On Wednesday evening, Lawrence Johnstone, who's done some stints as a guest-caller at Redwood Rainbows was teaching "Teacup Chain" at a straight club. Charlene and I went, and ran into K. from our club, there.

On the first tip, K. and I were talking as the squares formed up, danced that tip, then Charlene and I danced the next tip, and in between some set of tips, K. and Charlene commiserated over getting pushed around, and after a few more tips, K. gave her regards and took off.

Charlene and I stayed through the rest of the evening.

Yesterday evening, as I watched Australian Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison's message regarding unacceptable behavior (YouTube) I was struck by the privilege that I experienced at the straight square dancing club.

First off, I was male-sex, dancing boy, with an obviously attached female partner. There's a whole set of expectations and roles that all I had to do was conform to. Partnered women were not likely to grope me. Men would look me in the eye and give me a firm handshake, and if they had to hold my hand in formations would very carefully respect boundaries.

Second, Charlene was clearly there partnered with me, so she carried many of the protections I had by proxy. And even then she was talking about being pushed.

K. had none of those protections. I don't know what all led to her taking off, I may or may not end up having that conversation with her and she may or may not end up feeling comfortable about talking about all of the underlying issues. I don't know if she felt like the unattached men were a little grope-y, if the general "push people into position" vibe was too much, if the "single woman in a straight club" thing bugged her, but the point is that there's simply no way that I can have her experience of that scene.

So it's easy to say:

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

It's a little more difficult to say, as Morrison did in his speech to the 2013 United Nations International Women's Day Converence:

I hasten to add that I had already concluded that the ‘bad apple’ theory was a comforting self-delusion. Police forces throughout Australia only started to come to grips with systemic corruption when they came to the same realisation. Cultural problems are just that; they are systemic and ingrained, not the work of a few rogues.

Such cultural problems generally evolve over time into distortions of what began as an admirable quality in an institution or organisation, but they are hijacked by misguided or malevolent people and become a device to exclude the vulnerable and the different from the dominant group. Often in hyper masculine environments, like armies, the ‘other’ is defined by being weaker physically, not drinking ‘like a man’, being more introverted or intellectual, and of course female.

But I think that unless we actively solicit discussion, feedback and criticism, open talk that directly transgresses social mores, we'll simply be unaware of the standard we're walking past.

And I need to do some more soul searching on that.

#Comment Re: made: 2013-06-14 17:09:55.997942+00 by: Dan Lyke

Skepchik has a transcript of Morrison's message on unacceptable behavior if you're video averse.