May 16, 2017

Ballet's rape problem.

Siobhan Burkemay, writing in the NYT, is fed up with the "sleek, unexamined images of violence against women" that are "pervasive in contemporary ballet."
By “images of violence against women,” I mean not just depictions of violent acts but also the kind of forceful partnering that’s become so ubiquitous, so gratuitous, so banal in ballet — the yanking, dragging, prying open of women’s bodies by men — both with and without a narrative pretext....

Men lifting, turning, supporting women — it’s part of ballet’s DNA. But there are ways to work within these traditions, or subvert them, that give women equal power and agency, or at least try to....
She's gotten some pushback. Her colleague Alastair Macaulay "asked whether my call for 'no more' was a call for censorship: 'Must works of art only depict people behaving correctly?'" Of course, she answers no. It's not that the characters in the story need to behave well. The question, she says, is whether the artists are taking serious matters seriously or whether they are using violence against women as a cheap thrill:
If artists want to deal with rape, gang or otherwise, as subject matter, they should, as they should grapple with any difficult issue. But they must really deal with it: Say something. Don’t just toss it in as one more incidental plot twist, one more exquisite thing to behold. Acknowledge its urgency, its complexity and the fact that to many in the audience, it may not be so abstract....

53 comments:

The Godfather said...

This could sell a lot of ballet tickets.

Witness said...

Is it too early to declare the first post victorious?

rhhardin said...

I always wait for the topless scene.

mccullough said...

Banal is a good description of her article. These social justice warriors are boring.

Earnest Prole said...

“My disappointment with ‘Odessa’ led me to post a photo on Instagram . . . of my face, looking directly at the camera, wearing what I consider an ‘over it’ kind of expression.”

Nothing says “no more gang rape scenes in ballets, please” quite like an indignant selfie.

Drago said...

We are so very, very close to a wonderful moment in the Western Arts where we can finally, once and for all, completely subsume all art into the Leftist Collective!

Oh how glorious it will all be!!

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2000/10/19/the-arts-in-russia-under-stalin/

Oh sure, there will be a few "hiccups" and "broken eggs" here and there, but think of the glorious reality we will have created!!

Plus Caitlyn Jenner has ALWAYS been a "girl"!!

Oh Happy Days!

Bill said...

What's next -- a whine-fest on the commodification of swans?!

Sebastian said...

"using violence against women as a cheap thrill" As opposed to using violence against men? You know, like, in movies and such?

In the annals of art, what's the ratio of anti-male over anti-female exploitation? Let's have a body count.

Bob Ellison said...

This one time at band camp.

Peter Irons said...

The problem is that once those who write and talk about politics and culture casually grant the loony left some of their some of their silly premises--like rape culture or the nonsense from BLA--then this sort of stupidity become plausible enough to say and to write. This is why the universities have become so stupid in the humanities and social sciences, and why most Americans don't care what they or the left media have to say. Such stupid, stupid people.

readering said...

Well here's a problem I had no idea existed . . . .

n.n said...

This is about women, the burden of pregnancy, and the littlest foot soldiers of the vast patriarchal conspiracy, right?

Mother Nature is the Supreme Female Chauvinist.

OregonGuy said...

I watched "The Ropers" on TCM this morning. Ended up searching for Sue Ane Langdon. I think it's time we stop making Westerns that objectify women.
.

n.n said...

re: women

Women women, excluding women doppelgangers.

J2 said...

What word did people say prior to the "agency" contagion?

mockturtle said...

What's next -- a whine-fest on the commodification of swans?!

Oh, yeah! Appropriation of waterfowl culture.

Jonathan Graehl said...

First they came for the rappers, and I did not speak out -
because I was not a rapper ...

Fernandinande said...

The Godfather said...
This could sell a lot of ballet tickets.


They make you buy tickets?!

buwaya puti said...

Whatever else it is, ballet certainly isn't a cheap thrill.

Or not at least the San Francisco Ballet.

As for rape, I can sort of see it for "Rite of Spring", but for the rest, I must have seen the wrong sorts of ballet.

Bob Loblaw said...

We are so very, very close to a wonderful moment in the Western Arts where we can finally, once and for all, completely subsume all art into the Leftist Collective!

As always, there's a German word for that: Gleichschaltung.

Snark said...

Black* Swine: The Movie

*not racist!

Bad Lieutenant said...

Surely if you kill a few of these people it will stop. They may be willing to literally and figuratively fling poo and risk an hour in jail, but will even a hardcore Black Bloc-er, let alone a talker like this one, really take one in the back of the neck for ballet?

But, never happen. Nobody ever wants to yank the Band-Aid.

The Godfather said...

@Witness: I second your motion.

Bad Lieutenant said...

As always, there's a German word for that: Gleichschaltung.

"Borg" is much shorter, and at least sounds German.

n.n said...

Rape, not rape-rape. A metaphor for a narrative to claim plausible deniability or a semantic game a la "1 in 5" statistical game to prey on women, men, and babies, too.

Earnest Prole said...

And here's the author contemplating the light in her bathroom (presumably not thinking of ballet rape, though it’s difficult to know for sure).

Jay Elink said...

"We are so very, very close to a wonderful moment in the Western Arts where we can finally, once and for all, completely subsume all art into the Leftist Collective!"

*********

Harrison Bergeron, call your agent!!

D said...

Possible responses:
If only there was a way - a tool, some sort of medium - that millions of people across the land can decide for themselves what they saw as worthwhile Art. If they could barter some token from their field toiling labours, so as to choose which ballet performances to attend.

We live in a time when there is at least seventeen billion YouTube channels. Good luck cleaning up the Arts.

I imagine this puts a damper on any plans for Laslo's stage production of "Ponytail on a Treadmill"

mockturtle said...

Where is Laslo, anyway?

Kate said...

Until the day ballerinas are all trans men, a pas de deux involves the stronger partner lifting the lighter one. The artist must love the frame, and in dance the frame is the limits of the human body.

Jay Elink said...

"Whatever else it is, ballet certainly isn't a cheap thrill.

Or not at least the San Francisco Ballet."

************

Anyone seen Les Ballets Trokadero? Gays in tutus gently but hilariously mocking ballet and its traditions.

Cultural appropriation, indeed!!! SJWs must sit in the audience clenching tiny Fists of Fury in their pockets, and muttering "Problematic!. Problematic!"

St. George said...

Watch Baryshnikov manhandle his partner in "That's Life," the midsection of Twyla Tharp's "Sinatra Suite."

St. George said...

And how he catches her at 6:28!!

Bob Loblaw said...

Hmmmm. I can't help but wonder how many men in your typical ballet audience are there of their own volition. You know, to see these rape (but not, as Whoopie Goldberg would assure us, rape-rape) performances.

Rosa Marie Yoder said...

She's crazy. Still, I cannot wait to share this with my baby brother who is a ballet dancer turned doctor, bleeding heart Lib that he is. Surely he will be driven to reconsider his support of the arts.

William said...

I read somewhere that those Degas girls were from the working class. They were not there in pursuit of beauty but in order to make a living. They were subjected to quite a lot of various forms of abuse. Being a ballet dancer was a working class job, probably better than working in a laundry but more a job than a calling........The Kirov Ballet was founded by a Soviet commissar who wanted a variety of supple young women at his disposal.

Darrell said...

I avoided ballet when I came to the conclusion that it was a sociably acceptable strip-club for the hoity-toity--a spectacle to legitimize looking at the human form. I'll go to regular strip clubs, thank you very much, when I feel like it. Unapologetically.

Big Mike said...

If ballet is rape then shut down all ballet companies immediately. No exceptions.

Clyde said...

Where is Laslo when we need him?

Jupiter said...

If she thinks that's bad, she should have seen what they did at Bataclan.

Zach said...

Oh, come on. Gang rape? I've probably seen the "dancer goes limp while other people move her limbs around the stage" move a dozen times (I have a lot of ballerina friends), and it's never looked rapey to me.

It's just a standard move in a choreographer's toolkit. By convention, modern ballet is silent and abstract. It doesn't have a frame story to tell you what's going on. And everyone's already done "twirl around and look pretty."

JohnAnnArbor said...

Some folks have so few problems that they must invent them, I guess.

A dash of attention-seeking, too.

Zach said...

I mean, there are only so many things you can portray in a silent dance. Farm auctioneer is right out.

Zach said...

Interesting point, possibly worthy of discussion:

The picture Burke chooses to represent the concept of "no gang rape please" is a gauzy picture of herself looking off into the distance in the classic lifted chin hero pose (and looking quite fetching, I might add):

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTzzPekhDvd/

So here's my question: who is the subject of this post? Burke is not raping anyone, or being raped. She isn't showing a scene she objects to or a dancer / choreographer who's causing the problem.

The subject of the *picture* isn't the state of modern ballet. It's the state of *Burke* being enlightened about the state of modern ballet!

Valentine Smith said...

A conversation six people are having. Alas, all women are fucking crazy.

Biotrekker said...

Can't wait to see waif-like ballerinas lifting their male partners (ooh, am I allowed to say ballerina? Oops - 30 lashes for me - oh wait, that was an Islamophobic slur -

GRW3 said...

Ballet? Elite-World-Problems

JAORE said...

As most of the world foolishly expends energy worrying about food on the table, rent payments and other assorted issues of the common man.

Hell for these elitists should be eternal peels of laughter at every lofty pronouncement.

Craig Howard said...

3 out of 5 ballerinas experience choreographed assaults in the workplace.

Rae said...

The solution is weight classes in Ballet. That and transgenderism, and a checklist of questions that must be approved before any touching occurs.

Rae said...

To be more clear, ballet doesn't have a rape problem. Burkemay has an imaginary rape problem, and she has no business foisting her neuroses on others.

walter said...

Ballet.."kinda rapey".

walter said...

Blogger Darrell said...
I'll go to regular strip clubs, thank you very much, when I feel like it.
--
Less chance of being exposed to men in tights/objectification of men.