Strictly Misandry

Posted: October 6, 2011 in misandry
Tags: , ,

Strictly Come Dancing is not what I would consider a bastion of machismo. Ballroom dancing is flamboyantly camp, and has been a realm dominated by gay men and  very pretty, dainty straight ones. But Judith Woods in the Telegraph is making out the show is a last ditch attempt by men to regain some of their lost power over women:

‘If you look beyond the cheesiness, you have to admit it’s a tragic indictment of 21st-century manhood that such formulaic role-playing – assertive chap bends pliant, pretty partner to his will, and to a syrupy syncopated beat – is so darned appealing. Like it or not (and I’m donning my tin hat right now), with our empowerment has come their emasculation.

Yes, I know it’s their own fault. It’s always their own fault. But the fact of the matter is, women end up having to shoulder even more of life’s burdens as their supine, self-pitying, over-domesticated menfolk grow ever more paralysed by their apparent obsolescence in a society where women are able to hunt, gather, sweep out the cave, rear children and assemble flatpack furniture. We always could, of course, it’s just previous generations were less obvious about it.’

This echoes Hannah Rosin’s triumphalist declaration of  The End Of Men!

As Rosin has done, this journalist is not content to document the changing gender landscape, where men and women are much more similar than they used to be in their activities and interests, and earning power. She has to use it as an opportunity for some blatant man-bashing, emphasising as she does men’s ‘obsolescence’ and their ’emasculation’ as a result of women’s increased potency in society.

But what is Woods really saying? Is she bemoaning the loss of ‘real men’ to these new breeds of metrosexual sissies? Or is she criticising the ‘traditional’ model of dominant masculinity as symbolised by ballroom dancing where the man leads and the woman follows? It looks like, in a typical feminist contradictory ‘double bind’ she is doing both. She is telling us that Strictly is ‘sexist’ in its Tarzan/Jane roleplay, but that this sexism is understandable due to the fact men have become pussies. And it is ‘all their own fault’.

Woods finishes her article by saying:
‘Yet the irony is that women want real men every bit as much as men want real women. So maybe if we pretend, they will, too. Just look at Strictly, where the secret of happy togetherness is give, take, rictus smiles and a tacit agreement that sometimes it’s a man’s right and responsibility to lead – if only for three minutes at a time.’
As Mark Simpson, who has identified misandry as the acceptable prejudice said to me recently: ‘Men can’t win’. They are either macho misogynists or emasculated  losers. And if they challenge that representation they are treated as a joke.
Strictly Misandry, the most popular show in town.
  1. redpesto says:

    “As Mark Simpson, who has identified misandry as the acceptable prejudice, said to me recently: ‘Men can’t win’. They are either macho misogynists or emasculated losers. And if they challenge that representation they are treated as a joke.”

    Or told to quite whining and, er, take it like a ma– sorry, put up with it.

    PS: Did you see Cochrane’s fan letter from Iceland?

    • Ive just found it but I can’t face reading it! She is the Johann Hari of feminism

      • redpesto says:

        If you spotted Bindel’s similar article from about a year ago, it’s pretty much the same thing: Iceland banned the sex industry – yay! It’s paradise! (In other words, don’t bother reading it for anything about the state of the once-bankrupt economy.)

  2. Gs says:

    Two thoughts:

    1.The old adage is, ‘power is corrupting.’ Maybe feminist power has corrupted some womens’ benevolence or altruism towards others rather than emasculated men.

    2. Ms. Woods loquacious goading is far from boring. Undoubtedly, The Telegraph® is well aware of this selling point.

  3. marc2020 says:

    Its depressing but its not shocking equality between men and women seems a hard concept to grasp especially for the stuffy traditionalist’s from the Telegraph. Someone’s always got to be winning and someone is always losing.

  4. machina says:

    The “back in the day, when men were men” trope does keep recurring. The funny thing is that women and female roles are what have changed and yet we don’t hear much about the end of women.

    • Yes youre right – I think it is partly because women are more free to step outside of ‘gender norms’ than men. So they get to ‘wear the trousers’ and still be women, but men can’t ‘wear the skirts’ and still be men.

  5. Jay Generally says:

    I like how the “back in the day, when men were men” trope never specifies time, place, or class. What sort of clothing are they evoking there? Tights? High-Heels? Codpieces? Chains? When I hear that expression I kind of always mentally pencil in “speaker’s Dad.”

    I could barely understand Ms. Woods writing, but I wonder how the heck else she expects anyone would choreograph a dance? The physical logistics are just sort of gender conforming, you know? I mean, if they want to stage a dance with an amazon and a bitsy twink I’ll gladly watch the shit out of it, but I don’t think you could easily stage that over and over to eglatarian levels without looking kind of weird. I dunno, to go up to a dance and say “this is sexism, but perhaps it is the good/acceptable sexism,” feels a little like the heterosexual equivalent of going up to a gay couple and saying, “the short one is the girl; the tall one is the boy.”

    • ha yes I see what you mean Jay.

      Mark Simpson pointed out in private correspondance that also, the fact the women contestants don’t lead makes it easier for them to ‘look good’ than the men, as the women are being led by a professional dancer. Is that sexist in itself?

  6. Jay Generally says:

    I definitely see where he’s coming from. The Lead does control the whole rhythm of the thing though, so if your timing sucks everyone’s going to know it fast. Women’s costumes have long history of being made to create dynamic motion from simple moves (like the way skirts flare for simple turns) to help overcome the ‘doing it backwards and in heels’ handicap. Most of the good dips, spins, catches will get a Follow really hurt if a Lead screws them up. And if the Follow does all the cool moves the Lead just ends up looking like a human stripper pole.

    I don’t really watch these things much, but I’d expect the acts with amateur males to do more ‘skit’ and ‘comedy’ routines, with inventive character costumes so the guy can do more acting and less dancing. They’ll probably showcase the amateur doing at least one dynamic physical trick, like a back flip or sommat, away from the Follow so the Lead can’t hurt her. They’ll probably do more separated synchro’ dancing because its impressive and follows a script rather than letting the Lead potentially screw things up. For the amateur females I’d expect more arm in arm, close dancing stuff with lots of lifts and spins. They probably also showcase a physical trick for the amateur that goes into the Lead so the Follow can’t hurt herself (like a cartwheel, or a catch). The costumes are probably a bit more classic but generic because this is the dynamic most dance routines were designed for in the first place. It probably seems like the woman has an easier time of it, and physically that might be true, but judges do tend to eat up ‘creativity’ and pop culture references like candy, and it gives the men a lot of chances to showcase their personalities without being dwarfed by their partner. Hopefully the judges in questions would know that they’re essentially judging two entirely different breeds and pick ‘Best in Show’ fairly.

    I’m no choreographer tho’. Is there anyone who watches these things enough to check my math?

    TL;DR Sexism against men in the whole set-up – Possible? Yes. Definite? No.

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