Posts Tagged ‘gender roles’

The Firebird, a Ballez #queer #dance #kickstarter #feminism

May 16, 2013

“This ballet is the one I wish I had seen” . . .words, of course, you would expect to hear from the artistic director. The reality is that in the context of  The Firebird, a Ballez this is much more than a true statement.  Katy Pyle has re-envisioned Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird in a new image.  A queer image.  The clip from Kickstarter IS the ballet I wish I could see if I was in NYC this weekend.

I am far from a lover of ballet, I am impressed with the skill it takes to dance on ones toes (I’m thrilled to get through one day with stubbing a toe) but I’ve never felt a connection (I vaguely remember The Nutcracker and by vague, I remember this idea of child running around and the prince/princess and always been freezing cold in the theater) to ballet.

I clicked on the Kickstarter campaign because the artistic director is the sister of a college classmates.  I believe in projects in Kickstarter: we are all on this planet together and well, in this country we really don’t grasp “the arts” or funding for the arts.  As I watched the clip and listened to Katy’s reasoning for funding the project, I went back and watched the clip again. Without sound.

I saw me: not just the gay me.  But me.  The person who doesn’t look like a dancer. I saw people of different ethnic origins.  I saw not male/female roles but artists expressing their craft in a very gender scripted medium.  Yes, there were dancers who looked like dancers but compare the clip above to this one I grabbed from you tube.

Pyle’s project is more than just a “queer ballet and orchestra”.  The dancers look like everybody.  They present healthy body images with varying frames.  As I’ve replayed the clip in my head all day and thought about what I wanted to write about this amazing project.  I realized that Pyle is correct, this is a ballet I wished I would have seen.  Maybe somewhere in the back of my childhood brain I knew I was gay.  Maybe somewhere in the back of my head I knew I never had the body type to BE a dancer (even if I had the coordination).

The LGBTQ community has spent much of the spring in celebration as states grant the right to marry.  Now it’s time to show how it’s getting better in different areas of life.  The myths and fables of childhood which provide many of the gender norms which continue to be presented as acceptable need to be broken: not just for the LGBTQ community but for everybody. Every time I think of this ballet, I am amazed at the creativity.  I am in awe of the courage and I give thanks.  Maybe there will be a child watching who when s/he grows up s/he will realize s/he is LGBTQ and that the ability to dance doesn’t cross a gender bounds, that the stories presented in the struggles, the fantasy, the mythology of dances can be presented not as straight or queer but as what they are: human struggles.

No Baby? No Problem!

April 2, 2011

Usually, it takes me until my first cup of coffee is finished to be completely offended. Today, it took exactly the length of time to read the following 2 paragraphs:

“Women are programmed to be caregivers and nurturers. Give my girls a couple of dolls, and one will be the mom the other will be the daughter, frequently disregarding the obvious gender of the doll. Before a woman becomes a mother, she will coo over her friend’s newborn; and in that lilting, high-pitched voice say, “Oh, I want one.”

 Give a boy child a couple of dolls, and they are liable to decapitate, dismember, or bury it. Prior to fatherhood, most men dread a baby. Responses I have heard include “It smells”, “It’s noisy”, and “Don’t hand it to me. I’ll drop it and break it.” Men are programmed with single-syllabic functions that run along the lines of “hunt, kill, eat, mate, sleep.”  Their responses are biologically simple.”

Seriously? I’d like to sweep the comments under the musings of an uneducated Neolithic person. Unfortunately, I attended college with the writer.  In full as much disclosure as I want over the internet, I will say I attended Hollins College (now university) which is a women’s university (ok, that sounds dumb, another reason I’m still against the name change) in Virginia.  Funnier yet? The last time I spoke with the writer, she was on this “empowered female” tirade. One more time: we do not get equality by belittlement. 

Normally, I’d smile and nod at something this horrifically stupid but I am SO OVER my “fulfillment” as a woman needing to include a child, that a man cannot be more pro-child than a woman, and this feckless idea that all women coo that I might just scream. Literally.

Let me be clear: I’ve NEVER wanted a child. I would not be a good parent, I don’t particularly care for the newborn of the species and I really only like kids once they are interactive. In a now infamous moment, I once tried to bribe my then 4 month old niece into taking a bottle by offering her a horse, a car and a college education: to quote my sister “only my sister would try to bribe an infant”.

The writer continues, “He [brother in law] devoted himself to them with the haphazard parenting that men excel at: half dangerous, half clueless, and frequently mitigated by my sister without him being aware of it. “ REALLY? Men cannot be responsible parents? Can only parent when subjugated to the manipulations of a woman and are too stupid to realize it?

I am simply stunned that in 2010, a woman stoops to such a level as to belittle men. I know gay male couples who joyously embrace parenting – or is that a façade? I know people of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, socio-economic status who do or do not want to parent. It has never been as simple as “It is because person X is a male/female”.  Nobody should be forced to parent when they do not want to: we know how to prevent pregnancy. A couple is as complete without a child by choice as one is who makes the choice to have a child. A child cannot complete a couple and to think so is dangerous. Marriages are hard enough before you add the strains of parenting. Having a child to “save” a marriage is as brilliant of an idea as well, mixing gasoline and a match. 

My 5 year old nephew asked for a baby sister for his birthday. But I suppose that shouldn’t count: his father is an amazing parent as is his uncle.   And neither of those two acts in a “half-clueless” manner; and neither are manipulated into parenting by their wives.  I wish the writer was so enlightened.

There are times after having fun with my nieces and nephews; I float the “what if” but it is quickly quashed: it is the remarkable co-parenting by my siblings and their spouses that gave me wonderfully inquisitive, interactive nieces and nephews.  I know I do not posses that skill set. I know that I do not want to parent. I was the girl that gave her sister the dolls and found a baseball instead. I am insulted – by extension – that there must be something wrong with me for not wanting a child.

 My only hope is that since the posting was on 4/1 it was an attempt to be a “funny” April Fool’s Day posting. But then again, if an idea of humor is by minimization of another, well, that is not funny either.