By Mark David Blum, Esq.
The Administration of the Fayetteville-Manlius High School has completely gone loco parentis. Banning school dances because they, the teachers and administrators, through their own prurient eyes, see sexuality and lewdness in how students are dancing. So, the school banned the dances.
Patrick Swayze, be damned; the issue here is greater than just a bunch of old fart fuddy duddies incapable of accepting their offspring are maturing into adults. Denial to the students of access to facilities for dances exposes them to harm, polarizes and shames females into subservient roles, and violates some of the most basic tenets and lessons of our Nation for which we pay these teachers and administrators taxes and massive pensions to teach and administer.
What offends FM puritan fanatics is the dance called “the Grind” which, according to one wise old sage, is nothing more than a horizontal manifestation of the participants’ vertical intention. Set to the heavy beat of Hip Hop / Rap, we are witnessing nothing more than the current generation’s movement to their own rhythm. Socrates said it of Plato, your parents said it of you, and now you are saying it of your own: “Those kids today, with that music, and those clothes, and that hair, and that dancing, and ad naseum.” The song is the same; only the singers have changed.
Not quite; however.
Dance itself historically has shown itself as a means by which a population frees itself and manifests joy. Slaves freed in the late 1800’s developed their own styles of dance and music that “mainstream America” found very offensive. The Georgia Grind, Ballin’ The Jack and Walkin’ The Dog, Lindy Hop, Juba and Charleston, Black Bottom and The Mess Around, Big Apple and Trucking, Shimmy, and Steppin’ on the Cootie are but some of shimmies and shakin` that was-a-goin` on back on through the 1940’s. By the 1970s, the slippery, sliding Slop was in style.
Today it is fashionable everywhere for adults and children to learn salsa, tango, mambo dancing.
Rising up in Havana in the 1890s and later in the U.S., these sexually-charged Afro-Cuban dances were often suppressed and restricted because they were viewed as dangerous and lewd. If you have ever tangoed, you would have to concur.
Feminism and the radical agenda which arose in the 1960’s resulted in the hairy legged, bra burning, fat ugly chick image that so many women have thankfully rejected. The cause of feminism, however, did not die and women since then have made great strides in freeing themselves. Including in that are the obvious expansions in work and social role.
One issue that never really settled and which in the past 20 years or so has blossomed is that aspect of feminism and “woman” that frees herself from a sexually submissive role. Women have forced their way onto a sexually equal plane and this has caused great social stress. This is where our current fundamentalist puritanical ideal slams head on into the cold water of reality.
“The western, especially Christian, intellectual tradition that has demonized women has done so through a fiercely dualistic thought system in which sexual feelings are understood as pure sensation, as part of that material, animal, female world that it is the telos of the immaterial soul to rise above. When, by contrast, feminist theorists, theologians, and musicians seek to reconnect sexual desire with the largest, most socially and spiritually significant longings of human beings, the desire for the sharing of joy and opening to the divine, they work against centuries of deeply ingrained misogyny and are rightly labeled radical.”
What we have seen transform in our society is the transformation of women of not only into command of the workplace and public life, but also a transformation over which they have learned to be free and at peace with their sexuality. Through clothes and music, among others, today’s free woman, one unbound by constraints of relegation or submissive social pressure, has learned to dance with her own body and to celebrate herself. Instead of taking shame or hiding desires and that she is a sexual and sensual human being, modern feminism and the role women are assuming in society casts aside the traditional roles and challenges men as sexual equals.
Without having any first hand knowledge; my bet is that the teachers and administrators and parents who have “issue” with the new manifestation of an ancient desire are males and probably ones engaged in a traditional Christian relationship between one and another. These men see young women freely expressing their joy and passion and feel a great fear and challenge to their trained for male role. (Either that, or there are pedophiles). For whatever the reason, clearly these chaparones of the dances are the ones having the problem dealing with the dancing. No student has been heard to complain. Nor do we ever hear complaints about how the boys are dancing. All we hear are the depictions of females grinding their buttocks into their partner’s crotch.
Boiled down to its gravy, the dancing and expressions seen in today’s youth dance styles reflect an almost humanly ingrained trait to rebel against conventional establishment. Because our society has shifted so far to the right and adopted such a puritanical ideal to which we strive, our rebellious youth fight those conventions as did their fathers before them. Add to that the continuing freeing of women from the traditions and imprisonment of religious ethos. Combined, it must make for some really nice butts in tight jeans doing some really nice grinding.
While at its core, dance and music are manners of expression and the rights we all have in this nation to such free expression are presumed to be First among our cherished freedoms. After all, they did call it the “First Amendment”, not the nineteenth. Unfortunately, unless your dance or expression involves politics, such expression is relegated to a lower status of protection. If instead of ‘the Grind’, the dance was called ‘Republican Porking’, such dance would have much more of a First Amendment stature. Courts insist that the highest order of speech is political speech. Telling your date of your sexual fantasies just does not qualify.
As someone who travels to many area schools and talks to children considered to be at risk as well as those who are over achievers, I tell you firsthand that your children are not idiots. They know when you are being fair and are behaving according to basic principles. I guarantee you one thing; stopping the dances at the High School is not going to stop the dancing. Instead, dancing and teenagers will find themselves other locations, ones not as safe, as they proceed down the path in life we call maturation.
Remember parents and teachers; we are not raising children. We are raising adults. What lessons do you want them to take into adulthood? What are you saying about yourself and how will you complain when your children abuse their own?