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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

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The NYT article is about the high school my niece will be going to. I do know that my sister has been unpleasantly surprised at the early sexualization in the middle school there (middle school starts with 5ht grade). It's an upper middle class suburban school district outside of Syracuse.

I have not heard of this happening here where we live though. I wonder if there's any kind of common thread among schools where this is prevalent?

On the one hand, dancing has always been about sex, though the dancing we did, though perhaps simulating sex, was much more subtle than what this sounds like. How much of this is about rebelling and shocking "old" people?

Wow. I mean I'm just floored.

You all didn't know about this??

My goodness. 90% of dancing in clubs these days is grinding and probably has been for... well, at least 10 years. Go NYT for being WAY behind on the curve here. As for "freaking" that's derived from dancing or "getting your freak on" because many people joke with thier friends who can't dance that they look like "freaks" when they try. The term originated back in... the early 2000's I think. I don't recall it in highschool.

As someone who attended high school dances less then 10 years ago and who has been to clubs many a time in the time since, allow me to inform you that this is neither new or shocking (at least to anyone under a certain age). The only thing surprising about this particular kind of "dancing" is the intense lack some guys have in the rhythm department.

That said, not ALL dancing at school dances and clubs is like this. Though, if you go to a college bar you may wonder if I'm telling the truth. Some people still know how to dance without their crotch attached to their partners. This kind of dancing is part shock value, part "white boys can't dance" and part cultural laxity.

The one thing that I can reassure you with, because I have a feeling not much of what I said above was reassuring at all, is that girls don't like or approve of strange guys coming up and rubbing their denim covered selves all over them. It's painful and I've told more then one guy to back off - not so nicely.

Like everything else, tell your kids they don't have to play along if they don't want to. If they want to play along, keep their clothes on. Better yet... teach your kids to dance at home. Then they'll realize this isn't anything but grinding... and real dancing is much more fun.

Oh, and concerning the graphic nature of these dances:

Normally its just hips swaying together, though vigorously. There is some bending over, both forward and backward. Occasionally there is the fake doggy smacks, though you generally only get away with that with close friends or your girl. Sometimes more then two people are sandwiched together... and sometimes girls just dance with other girls.

To be honest, it all seems pretty normal and unexciting to me. I grew up with the general concept of dance being "rave," "ska," "grinding," and "swing." This is only one kind of dancing that our generation takes part in... though I'm hesitant to call today's high school kids my generation. It's just how things are, but I suppose to people that that's not how it's always been... it could be shocking.

Chip: Well, I know it was a lot about shocking old people when I was a kid. Though I don't remember as much objectifying of women as Autumn describes.

In fact, it was generally the opposite: women would do things empowering -- like going into untraditional professions -- to upset their parents.

Autumn: Great explanation of what is happening.

It goes to show how old I am: 43! I stopped going out to clubs in my late 20s, early 30s, so I missed Rave, ska and grinding.

Just so you know ... Ska is totally out of style now. It was a type of music that was around in the late 90's and is hard to find. Think... Big Band with an alternative lyrical style. It was in swing time... I think it was a big part of bring swing back into popularity.

Swing had a huge following when I was in college... so think 98-02. It's fun has a retro feel to it - and my mom taught me how when I was a kid.

Rave's... Raves were mostly Techno music and free form dancing with lights and stuff. Very cool stuff happening there. However, some very heavy drug use going on there too in some circles.

Right now Salsa and Tango are the big things.

I think the whole grinding thing is just a side effect of early sexualization. I've seen people having sex on a dance floor in clubs. It happens, you look the other way, or if it's REALLY obvious you tell a bouncer. I highly doubt kids are macking it up at the highschool dances anymore then they did 50 years ago.

Here's the thing I've learned about my generation and the one that comes after me (my siblings are 18 and 16) - the more that goes on in public does not necessarily mean more is happening behind closed doors. It's a game, a show, and way to say "I'm cool, see?"

I'm less worried about dancing and rock'n'roll and rap (which can be very offensive to women, yes) then I am about drugs and actual un-safe sex.

This generation degrades each other culturally not as an attempt to actually degrade women, but to show that they know it's not cool. You'll see a guy sing the songs word-for-word and then give someone else a good talking to if they actually behave that way. For the most part I don't think it's really about degredation. It's about mocking it.

My Hump is a terrible and catchy song. I have to admit I rather like it... to sing along and dance to. Yes, it's about objectifying a woman, but it's about her acknowledging that. But in the end? It's a fun song that pokes fun at old, outdated attitudes and has a good beat.

Damn kids and thier rock'n'roll and hip-swinging, we all "know" what that leads to. *wink*

Wow, sounds like the perfect proposal for a doctoral thesis.

I should explain that I was never hip in high school. I didn't "get" all the rebellion then, either.

i read about this in the NYT a few years ago, when it was a more underground thing that they called 'rearending' or something. a friend of mine who didn't dance thought it might be the one dance he could partake in.

i don't watch mtv so i'm quite unaware of how popular this imagery might be, but i recall when MC Hammer changed his image and tried to convince the world that the 'real' Hammer was totally gangsta. and he announced this with a little ditty called 'Pumps and a Bump.' it's been around for a while and i don't think it's different from something like Van Halen's 'Hot for Teacher'. they're just male fantasies.

the problem would be the girls who don't have the guidance or confidence to separate the fantasy from reality. it's not like we can personally do a whole lot about it, and there will always be people, both men & women, like that. but it would a nice fantasy for people to be raised to be self-confident and to find themselves beyond media-based imagery.

I agree Arp. Btw, our kids are very, very close in age.

cool. i forgot to add that i don't get the rebellion thing either - I'm one of the few people who totally didn't get 'Catcher in the Rye.'

Yeah, it was an okay read, but I didn't really relate.

I have a different take on this: as someone who did this kind of dancing in college (WAY before it was cool in high school - back in early 90's) I can tell you that this is *not* something I would want my children participating in. The dance style is not just to shock the adults, as some suggest. Just imagine your own reaction to pressing and grinding up against an attractive scantily-clad member of the opposite sex for about three minutes. Unless you are a robot, you *will* have a reaction to this. It's more than just dancing, it's almost-sex, which is why some couples end up crossing the line into real sex on the dance floor. The fact that kids are simulating women-submissive type positions is worse. . . especially for very young kids or kids with limited sexual experience. Is it a natural extension of the ever-more sexually-provocative dancing of the last three decades? Sure. But so is sex itself. This is exactly the kind of cultural phenom that is leading me to homeschool my children - not just the dancing itself, but the parental lack of awareness or alarm. Remember - I did it. I'm no shrinking violet. That's why I know exactly what it is and what its effect can be.

Thanks Rachel. Sounds like your experiences were very different than Autmns. I presume a lot depends on where you live?

this new editorial at the NYTimes touches on this as well: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/29/opinion/29fri4.html?em&ex=1167627600&en=fd80f5afa9d5d414&ei=5087%0A

the rampant sexualization and acceptance of pre-adolescents is really disturbing. we want to raise strong, confident girls & boys and sending them to school to be surrounded by such vapid and potentially psche-damaging mimicry would be nothing short of counterproductive.

man - i feel so curmudgeonly today...

I just read the article. Yuck, I didn't realize how odd our society is becoming.

Am I weird for wanting my kids to stay innocent until they are in their late teens?

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