Note: Link, fixed. My apologies.
Recently, the following video came to my attention.
As the title says, those little girls killed that dance. They rocked some moves that I can only dream of making look half as convincing. From what I saw, they loved doing it too.
So enjoy their joy!
End of post, right?
Wrong. Of course, there is controversy around this video.
I bet you all can guess the controversy before I even type it: Should those girls be doing those dance moves in those outfits?
This blog is a rant on why my answer is unequivocally, ‘Yes!”
As someone who spends her life swimming in the intellectual water of sexuality, here’s what I saw:
I saw little girls who are beginning to understand the power of being able to use their bodies to create art that makes people stand up and applaud. Because that applause was not for those outfits, it was for the level of skill the audience saw.
I saw little girls who possibly knew the word ‘sexy’ could be used to describe those outfits, but at that age probably understand only that ‘sexy’ means good.
I saw little girls who spent hours and hours learning how to pop it and lock it and pirouette and do a whole other host of dance moves that I could only dream of making look that good.
I saw little girls whose hopes and dreams may be someday to dance and were being trained in the craft of contemporary dance, in all its raw sexuality and power.
I saw little girls working together and sharing the spotlight.
I saw little girls having the time of their life.
I saw powerful little girls.
That’s what I saw. But there are a whole other host of people who maybe saw that, but it all took a back seat because they also saw sex.
And when sexuality and children come within range of one another, we’re living in a cultural epoch where, for most adults, shit just does not compute. Children are supposed to be ‘innocent’ and ‘asexual’ until puberty, right?
Wrong. Children are sexual from the moment their hands can touch their genitals (in utero, yo) to the moment they kick it (talking about death).
And even in saying that, the reality is while children may be sexual before they even pop out into this world, their experience of sexuality is not an adult experience.
Let me repeat that: CHILDHOOD SEXUALITY IS NOT AN ADULT EXPERIENCE.
This is where shit gets hard. Because of course, adults are terrified when they see things they think are sexual because most of us here in the good old U.S. have grown up in a world where sex is bad and shameful in most contexts. Plus, for adults, sex isn’t just sex. It has such incredible nuance, that when we see a 9 year old displaying sexuality, we automatically equate their action with our perceptions.
Let me give you a non-kid example of how this happens:
How many times have you seen someone, let’s say … eating a popsicle. Let’s say it’s one of those “big stick” popsicles. They liberate it from the wrapper. They examine it closely, and then plunge it into their waiting mouths. They plunge it deep, toward the back of their throats and you see their lips wrap around the popsicle at they bring it back out. Over and over and over.
What are you really thinking about right now?
Whether or not you’re thinking about how that person is totally blowing a popsicle, I can guarantee you, all that person is thinking about is how fucking delicious that big stick is. A BJ wasn’t anywhere in their consciousness.
It’s the same with kids. We see something, we say it’s sexual, but our perception is completely estranged from their actual experience. Those little girls were dancing, but all we see is pseudo-lingerie and some sexual movements.
So we ask, "Should they be doing those moves in those outfits?"
And in doing so, I am of the opinion that we negatively affect those girls.
I’ll say it again. We’re not protecting them from being sexualized by posing that question. All we really accomplish in asking it is shaming them.
Rather than congratulating them, telling them they did a great job, telling them that they are valuable and important and incredibly talented, we reinforce stigma.
We tell them they shouldn’t be wearing that (i.e. be ashamed of your body).
We tell them they shouldn’t be doing those moves (i.e. be ashamed of your sexuality).
We devalue all their hard work and effort in one fell swoop because we can’t see past the sexuality that I doubt they even thought about while learning that routine.
So, do I think that those little girls killed that dance routine, sexy moves and all? Hell yes.
I even think that their cutsie little outfits made me appreciate it more because I saw what their bodies had to go through to make that dance happen. Mad respect to those little ladies.
Do I think that someone should sit those little ladies down, and tell them that someday when they’re powerful adult women they can try to change all of dance culture so they can dance in whatever outfits they want to? Hell yes!
Do I condone adults continuously ruining everything for kids because we can’t separate ourselves from our own adult experiences of sexuality? Hell no.