Rebecca Brightly did a couple of posts on connection and sexism in lindy recently. I found it via the discussion on Reddit.
Brightly’s stuff is getting so much comment because it combines thoughts on how to enjoy dancing more (which is good) with an Internet-feminist deontology (which is wrong, as any respectable consequentialist could tell you). She’s now at the Defcon 3 stage of talking about “de-railing”, deleting comments, and closing down threads when people disagree with her premise. So I thought I’d put my response here.
Context: in partnered dances, there are usually two roles: one person leads, another follows. Quite what each role entails is a settled question for some dance cultures and a matter of intense mass debating in some corners of others. Traditionally, the leader is a man and the follower is a woman.
Brightly seems to say that followers should take more initiative while dancing, in part because this will combat sexism. Now read on.
Stuff I agree with:
In lindy, (most of?) the really good leaders can handle the follower initiating movements, and (most of?) the really good follows do so. You can tell this is true because there are so many videos of it on YouTube.
If you’re both into it, this can increase the fun, and is therefore a good thing.
The tradition that the man leads and the woman follows arose out of a sexist (and homophobic) culture.
Having the tradition enforced (whether by teachers or by the disapproval of other dancers) such that people feel they cannot choose to dance the non-traditional role limits fun and is therefore bad.
Stuff I’m not convinced there’s much reason to believe:
Everyone should be taught both roles from beginning of their dancing career (the premise of the Ambidanceterous blog).
Everyone should learn both roles.
(I mean these either for a categorical or hypothetical “should”, Kant fans, with the hypothetical being “if you want to be a good dancer”).
The mere fact that the traditional association between roles and sexes is still common today is a moral wrong that ought to be righted.
Stuff I disagree with:
There’s a moral duty for followers to take the initiative more and for leaders to learn to deal with that. This duty arises because:
1. The idea that follows should not initiate movements is sexist.
2. There’s a moral duty to eliminate anything which could be labelled “sexism”.
I disagree with 1 and 2 jointly and severally.
2 is the Internet-feminist deontology I mentioned. It’s usually either just asserted (as Brightly does) or advanced by deploying the worst argument in the world. As commenter Devonavar says, it’s not clear that there are bad consequences of having non-initiatory followers, so even if it is sexist, it’s not clear we should care, or at least, that we should care more than we care about other stuff, like having fun (we can reasonably assume that some people dance like that because they enjoy it).
1 is correctly challenged by commenter Josephine, who identifies the problem as the enforced association of roles with sexes. At most, the idea that followers should rarely initiate is indirectly sexist while the enforcement continues, but seeing as the enforcement does more harm, why not just work on that directly?