Friday, May 04, 2007

Tired of Apologizing

Welcome to all-dance-all-the-time here at PK's. I'm going to be sharing some of the more interesting discussions from the International Belly Dance Conference of Canada, the first being from the panel on sex and sexuality in belly dance.

I missed the first part of the discussion but found out that the opening statement was essentially 'belly dance is sexy. Get over it.' And this came from a man.

I think my favorite part of it was Venus saying that she was tired of apologizing for the sensuality that is a part of belly dance. Yes, there are dancers who take it to extremes and even use it as a ruse for prostitution but belly dancers are NOT STRIPPERS. We are NOT PROSTITUTES! She is tired of having to make excuses to non-dancers as to why she pursues this art form because they get squeamish enough with belly dancers because of the costuming and all.

"oh - it's good exercise." "it's a chance to bond with other women."

It is the only dance that is working really hard to be legitimate (admittedly, our own fault as dancers - and another blog post) but have to apologize for being sensual. Dance is a sensual experience - for the viewer as well as the dancer. It is about the body moving to music. Does it have to be erotic? No, it doesn't. But to deny that there is some kind of physical or emotional reaction - joy, sadness, laughter - is plain dumb.

Morocco said it best: The human body moving well is beautiful.

(Aside: on our way back from dinner Saturday night, we walked by some prostitutes but getting the camera out would have been too obvious. We wanted to put their picture in a line up that showed several belly dancers and ask "do you see a difference, because there is one.")

Sulieman, who is of Palestinian origin, talked about the dance from a Middle Eastern man's perspective. He encouraged the dancers in the audience to be flirty but coy. You don't want to just flail it all about on display for everyone. He then talked about the dancers (and this is why foreign dancers are now banned from working in Egypt) who would the dance as a means to find other types of clients (prostitution). He said they were whores. The dancer on the panel sitting next to him said she took issue with that.

"What else am I supposed to call them? They use the dance to sleep with as many men as possible."

She started in about not using the same terms for men and he waved her off to let Yasmina (the conference organizer) speak. She ran from the back of the room to get to a microphone.

"My boss wants to say something. We have to let her speak."

"I would call them free and happy women," Yasmina said to loud cheers from the audience.

Yes, I am tired of apologizing. I am tired of making excuses about why I dance, whether it is belly or ballroom.

"I do it for health reasons; it's great exercise."
"So I can meet others."
"It's fun."
"So I can connect with my feminine side."

While all of those, and any number of other statements, may be true to varying degrees. They all dance (badum ching) around the topic of sexuality. So does the church (yes, I'm dragging them into this as well because that is really a part of my frustration, too, but I will put that in another post.)

Some of my aggravation comes with the fact that I think society wouldn't want or expect to see a overweight woman comfortable with her body or her sexuality. While I am not completely there yet, I am far more comfortable with myself than a year or two ago. Truth is, I’ve felt like a healthy (thinner) woman trapped in a fat body. I could never get behind the whole fat acceptance/admirers thing. I’m glad that they found what they need but it isn’t for me. I have not finished losing the weight I want to lose but I know I will get to my goal with time and God’s help.

I'm tired of pretending the needs, the wants, the desires aren't there because either society thinks as a fat woman I shouldn't have them or the church thinks as a single woman I need to repress them (and don’t get me started on the idiots that are now saying single people should stay single. Oh for crying out loud – are you trying to drive people away from the church because if that was something I heard from my pastor, I would leave, too) - yes I know that is the human side of the church, not what God says. I am sick of hearing it and I am tired of apologizing for it. It is what it is.