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Frelon continues to reinforce offensive, anti-feminist ideas

13 Comments on Frelon continues to reinforce offensive, anti-feminist ideas

  1. Katie Weeks K'11 // May 4, 2011 at 12:32 PM // Reply

    It should also be noted to first-years and underclassmen that this is the first time the “Mance” has included women. This addition drastically changed the tone of the piece from a silly dance making fun of men stereotypes to one of gender stereotypes that include the degradation of women below men. While I’ve enjoyed the Mance before, this year it left me feeling uncomfortable, especially with the blatant sexual imagery on-stage. If we’re going to laugh and celebrate men, fine, but let’s not bring women down any farther with them.

    • Patrick Gailey // May 10, 2011 at 3:22 PM // Reply

      not true Katie. in the long history of Frelon there have been co-ed “mance’s” and they have also had similar objectification. It bothers me when people just use certain arguments to their advantage when they are untrue.

      read gail griffins new book and you’ll find out in the first 100 pages that your assertion that “It should also be noted to first-years and underclassmen that this is the first time the “Mance” has included women.” is just not true. Did you even do back-up research before blurting that over the web? didnt think so.

      Great article Ellen, keep on writing and dont let the hata’s get you down.

      • Katie Weeks K'11 // May 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM // Reply

        Thanks for the correction, Patrick. No, I didn’t realize past Mances included women, I was citing my personal experience over the past 4 years, which I should’ve clarified better.

  2. Matthew Kufta // May 4, 2011 at 4:48 PM // Reply

    While I did not attend Frelon this year, I can say this is a reoccurring subject on campus. However, I believe that you both are mistaken in your analysis of the “mance” and other dances. These are dances, choreographed by men and women, in order to have fun and show off their dance moves. I have never noticed any, what I would call extreme feminists, on campus denounce events where men are clearly mocked or, as the case if often, demonized by extreme feminist groups. Throughout my stay at K, I have noticed extreme feminists continually distort and try to translate everything into activities that are offensive to women. Trying to hijack events by denouncing them anti-feminist is not an effective tactic, and only alienates individuals further from your ideology.

    On a separate note, I would consider myself feminist as I too believe women should have equal rights as men in all areas. I too am offended with the news that a bill has been proposed in the state senate that women would be required to have an ultrasound. Those are real issues, unlike your perceived attacks on femininity in Frelon. While I do believe such dances are not appropriate for young women, who could still be developing their ideas and beliefs on what it means to be a woman, it must be said that any women that partook in the dance are adults and under the own free will chose to participate knowing full well what the dance would be. I believe, if anything is an offense to women about Frelon, it is that extreme feminists continually try to verbally batter these women from expressing themselves as they see fit.

    • It’s obvious you’ve haven’t taken the chance to do some hard thinking about these issues during your undergrad years, when it’s most important.

      This speaks to a larger problem at K. People need to take more philosophy/politics/history courses.

      They should be required.

  3. Harold Hermanson // May 4, 2011 at 9:29 PM // Reply

    Just a thought, but has anybody considered that those dances get the most cheering because GORGEOUS men were stripping on stage? Last time I checked that was the reason people were shouting my name. And I had fun being objectified AS A MAN on stage. That’s what the dance was about. Your article is ridiculous.

    Kufta is completely right. I’m completely for women’s rights in every way, but causing a stink about a frelon dance? Pick your battles wisely and you might win one for once.

    • Harold, it’s your own problem if you enjoy being objectified, or if you don’t see the implications for society at large, for *other* people – of both genders – when you do that or anything else.

      And please don’t embarrass yourself (and us) with comments like “your article is ridiculous.” Really? Is that all you have to say?

      You and Kufta have an astounding ability to
      1) oversimplify
      2) reject others’ important points using silly assertions and straw-man arguments
      3) reject actual communication and actual listening
      4) fail to think critically, in general

      But what’s most dangerous is that both of you say things like “I support women’s rights, don’t get me wrong,” and then proceed to totally undermine that statement with anything but support. A statement doesn’t mean anything if there’s no genuine sentiment backing it up, just like a law isn’t a good one if no one’s following it. So don’t say something like “oh, but I support women’s rights” as a would-be buffer, as if that allows you to say anything you like. You have to prove the truth of your “support” with meaningful argument, not empty statements. Better to leave the bit about supporting out all together.

  4. I like big butts and I can not lie…

  5. Katie Weeks K'11 // May 5, 2011 at 9:48 AM // Reply

    Harold, I loved your stripping on stage, (I know I was cheering). You’re right, it’s about being a MAN on stage, celebrating THEM. And to Dwight and future choreographers, PLEASE continue the Mance, it’s awesome, it’s fun, it’s great. I would request, however, that you keep it that, a MANce. The implications of objectifying and sexualizing women is very different than men, given the historical and cultural context of our country. By adding women to the picture, it changed the whole tone, if not drawing a significant amount of the attention away from the men (and their bodacious bods).

    Secondly, in response to the fact that this is a trivial matter, I would say yes, this is clearly not as hard-hitting as anti-abortion legislation. However, one of the key aspects of feminism, in my mind, is that it is applicable in everyday life. One of the key points of feminism, especially in a college setting, is being able to sit back and reflect on your personal life, not just theorize about orphans in Africa or oppression Nation-wide; see how it plays out in direct relation to you.
    No, I wouldn’t take this issue to the top, this is about as far as I’ll go, but the fact that this discussion is happening both online and around campus is great. Getting people to think about how they personally interact with feminism is incredibly important, an no, not trivial.

    • The problem was obviously the way the men and women were interacting, not just the fact that there were women doing those kinds of things.

      Consequently, a dance with men alone doing those things is still ridiculous.

  6. Ellen Smith // May 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM // Reply

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Katie, you’re right about past man dances. This is actually a point that was originally in my piece but then was cut for length. I have loved man dances and the ways in which they’ve played with gender roles in previous years. The juxtaposition of ballet set to “Be a Man” is a great example of how dance can undermine and resist prescribed gender norms.

    Matt and Harold, I’d like to respond to a few of the points you’ve made. First of all, like Katie, I agree that this is not the biggest issue of our time, and I’m fighting the other battles on different fronts as well. However, this issue is not trivial. The portrayal of women in the media is an immense problem that perpetuates the substantive inequality of women. While I can’t change every sexist music video, advertisement, or film, I can call out sexism where I see it happening on this campus and help create a dialogue around these issues. I whole-heartedly agree with Katie when she says that the part of the power of feminism is the ability to analyze and call out sexist oppression as it occurs in one’s everyday life.

    Second, I don’t believe that because women choose to dance in this way necessarily means that it is not objectifying and harmful for women as a collective (which for those of you schooled in intersectionality, I realize is a problematic statement given the many differences between groups of women, but for ease of the argument, bear with me). I’m making a structural argument here: I am not concerned with how women who take part in these dances feel while they are doing them, but rather with the messages they send to the audience. This article is not a “verbal battering” (which, quite frankly, Matt, was an incredibly insensitive choice of language) of the women who were a part of the dance, but rather a call for our community to think more critically about the images of women that we tacitly endorse.

    Third, like Katie, I want to point out the difference between men choosing to “objectify” themselves in this dance and the objectification of women. Harold, you got to choose exactly when and where and on what terms you objectified yourself, which is what makes it fun for you. Women don’t have that privilege. As a woman, I often don’t get to choose when and where and on what terms men objectify my body: as one example, I am regularly catcalled when I walk down the street. So yes, there is a substantive difference.

    Lastly, I’d like to state again that I was a dancer in Frelon this year. Matt, this article is not met to detract from the talent showcased in Frelon this year or in years past. I don’t think the event was blanketly perpetuating sexist stereotypes, and I have a lot of respect for the talents of many of the women and men who were in the dances I am critiquing. I am not denouncing Frelon as a whole, but rather my goal is to start a dialogue about the role of gender in Frelon and other institutions on campus.

  7. Tegan Tyler // May 6, 2011 at 12:35 AM // Reply

    Ellen, your response is wonderful and articulated many of the exact same thoughts I was having as well. Yes, Harold, you had fun being “objectified” in this dance. But you did not give up any of your privilege while doing it. And you got to choose when it would end and under what circumstances you would experience it. This makes it very different from the type of objectification many women experience on a regular basis, under circumstances they cannot control.

    Furthermore, both Kufta and Harold state that they are “completely for women’s rights in every way”. I am somewhat skeptical of that declaration. It is one thing to claim being for women’s rights when discussing legalized abortion or equal pay for equal work, battles which, though they are still on-going, began before we were born. Many of us have grown up acknowledging that these are central to women’s equality and, at this point, have had to give up little of our own privilege in order to have them exist. It is another thing to examine the more day-to-day instances of sexism, racism, classism, and so on that may be present in our personal lives. Supporting gender (as well as race and class) equality “in every way” involves examining and trying to be aware of how our personal actions play into the larger structure. Ellen wrote this article as a way to get us to examine what types of roles we are playing within our social system, and I think we need to do just that.

    Finally, Kufta states that there are regular events on our campus that “clearly mock” and “demonize” men. I am just curious about which events you are referring to? As far as I know, there are none with intentions to demonize men. If you are referring to Take Back the Night, that is an event which provides a safe space for discussing very real and traumatizing experiences with sexual assault – which, if you are all for women’s rights, you must surely support.

  8. Rick Halpert // May 18, 2011 at 12:21 PM // Reply

    While I did not attend Freelon, nor do I have any experience with it, I believe that this discussion of it is extremely valuable. I DID have the misfortune of attending a “modern” ballet at Indiana University (my law school alma mater). The scene opened with a talented young dancer performing with true elegance. She demonstrated breath taking mastery of the choreography. My enjoyment abruptly ceased. “Evil” music began and 4 men entered the stage with devil masks. They mimed restraining the woman and then beating her with whips. My discomfort grew to anger as this continued for several minutes. I do not know if the ballet had socially redeeming value in later scenes because I walked out. There are presentations which objectify women in the most vile and brutal ways–even in venues with positive national artistic reputations. Whether Freelon was or was not appropriate, the issue is not trivial. It is vital that we, men and women, confront it.

    Rick Halpert

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Frelon continues to reinforce offensive, anti-feminist ideas