November 26, 2017

"Despite not being included in participation, ['Inappropriate Song Night'] has not received much push back from men or trans men about attendance."

That's an observation by the Wisconsin State Journal in its article about a burlesque dancing event at a Madison place called Dance Life. We're assured that the dancing expresses sexuality but is not "a sexual event." It's a "safe place" where "women or non-binary people" can "be ourselves." The audience, we're told, is 100+ each week, with "men and trans men"* excluded.
[Dance Life owner Arielle] Juliette said even those who come into the event not knowing it’s an “escape from the male gaze” still leave with that strengthened feeling.

Being able to express whatever needs expressing is, in part, what makes something like ISN so special according to [Finn Enke — a nonbinary trans male and UW-Madison professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, History and LGBTQ Studies] who said “however they want to use their bodies, to show whatever they have experienced and to do something in a space where there is no question about validation from men — there is no question of evaluation from men. There is none of that (stuff) that is so pervasive in our culture. That strikes me as a super important thing to have.”
I remember stuff like this from the 1970s — the reclaiming of sexy dancing by feminists. Get the men out of the room and the meaning is transformed. I guess this is a recurrent theme, because I found a Feministing article from 8 years ago: "Musings on Feminism and Belly Dancing." I'm guessing the word "empowering" appears. Yes:
To my pleasant surprise, most women in the class took her up on the offer—women in their fifties, women with stretch-marks, women of all shapes and sizes were dancing exuberantly, their bellies revealed, and, you know, all of us had a wonderful time. It was incredibly empowering....

The other students in my anthropology class were impressed by my story, until I admitted that some (male) significant others of the women in my class (and their children) were in the audience at the hafla. One of my classmates raised her hand to say that this meant my fellow belly dancers were therefore performing for the benefit of their male significant others, and that this fact undermined anything feminist or challenging of norms about the whole experience....

With so much legitimate and vital concern about the objectification of women, sometimes it’s hard to say what’s objectifying and what is an empowering enjoyment of one’s sensuality....
Beyond dancing, I wonder about sex itself. Should men be excluded, for feminist empowerment?
____________________

* Isn't "men and trans men" an inappropriate locution? Why not just say "men"? If a two-part expression is desired, why use the modifier for the trans men and not the cis men? Perhaps the trans men are more emphatically excluded, as they may assert a stronger argument for inclusion, but I see no evidence that any trans men (or other men) are seeking inclusion. Ah, I see the answer in the article. There was concern that if trans men were not specifically excluded, they might feel offended by an unintended message of inclusion. It was therefore important to signal to them that they are regarded as members of the male group, the ones who are excluded. That is, they were shown the respect of being included in the exclusion.

85 comments:

robother said...

Wait. "Trans men" are women pretending to be men? I assumed it was the other way around, that men who are pretending to be women are not welcome.

Curious George said...

I know it's like 57th on the list but does it bother anyone else that "Finn Enke — a nonbinary trans male and UW-Madison professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, History and LGBTQ Studies" said "That strikes me as a super important thing to have.”

Fernandistien said...

"Picture pajama boy, with a lesbian haircut and an ironic mustache. The slimy, flabby, ironically tattooed tentacle of social justice has reached critical mass."

rehajm said...

In addition to the burlesque dancing it's contortionist training.

Gusty Winds said...

Don’t the bull dykes just replace the men not in attendance?

Are gay dudes allowed or are the non binary gender fluid also trying to avoid their judgmental gaze? Those guys can be horribly condescending.

Paco Wové said...

"this fact undermined anything feminist or challenging of norms about the whole experience"

Bwahaha! Tremble before the omnipotent power of the Male Gaze, puny females!

Gusty Winds said...

This is a place where cis gender women want to hang out?

Rob said...

So in Madison people get to decide which equal rights laws they’ll obey?

John Lynch said...

Fine with me. Women-only events are fine. Big deal. Strip out the lefty word salad and it's totally normal.

james james said...

"With so much legitimate and vital concern about the objectification of women, sometimes it’s hard to say what’s objectifying and what is an empowering enjoyment of one’s sensuality...."

You and me both.

-jj

Tommy Duncan said...

Please excuse my ignorance, but doesn't this run contrary to diversity theory? If males are excluded they must somehow be different. Isn't it then anti-diverse to exclude males? Do some groups have a higher diversity quotient than others?

I'm so confused. I feel excluded and offended. I promise not to stare at the fat bellies with stretch marks and the muffin tops and the cankles.

james james said...

Gay men have the male gaze, too.

We don't keep them out of, say, football games, with the muscular athletes in the tight pants.

We don't even keep them out of watching men's gymnastics.

If I had a dime for every time I was scrutinized by the male gaze I would have enough to make a few phone calls. If we still had pay-phones. And if they still only cost a dime.

-jj

Michael Brand said...

In order to be inclusive, we must first decide whom to exclude.

rehajm said...

It's cool they're all in one place so we won't have to encounter them when we go out. Even warned those who might end up there by mistake. Kind.

Linda said...

So am I correct in my interpretation that Finn Enke a non binary trans male would not be allowed into the show? I will admit, I had to look up non binary . . . I had forgotten what exactly that meant.

james james said...

The dreaded male gaze. Lighter to the cigarette.

When I am at the bar and in the mood for a brief facsimile of love I look for the out-of-town girls. With that 'male gaze' thing.

The regular girls at the bar: well, they are regulars, so you will see them again, and it will get complicated. And those complications will arise when one of the two involved is really drunk. And it is a bar, so the 'really drunk' is pretty sure to happen. Just thinking about it makes me want to be sober for a day. Or have a drink. One or the other.

So: the out-of-town girls.

The out-of-town girls are in Seattle on business, or tourists, or visiting a friend. And now they are in the bar. So: they want a bit of time away from what they came here for. Oh: and they probably have a hotel room. Which is good, because I don't want them to know where I live: I don't now need a stalker from, say, Montana.

How do you know they are out-of-town girls? Well, for one, you can usually tell by looking at them. They do not have the Seattle vibe. What is the Seattle vibe? It is akin to the New York 'leave me alone' vibe, but passive-aggressive. With a poorly-concealed desire to be considered hip.

Also: when the bartender welcomes them, they will usually mention how they are from out-of-town. Which is a pretty good clue.

Maybe they will look a bit bored. They will half-heartedly scan their phone. This is another clue: people in Seattle focus on their phones like their lives depended on it. Or at least that their Facebook Life depended on it. If you want to be seen as one step ahead, you need to know what you need to be one step ahead of.

If I am interested I will approach them, smile, and welcome them to Seattle. Not all of us are unfriendly here.

Then I will ask them what medications they are on.

This actually works sometimes.

If they say 'no medications' then you remark something to the effect of 'you really aren't from Seattle, are you?' This can proceed to banter. I have banter like Romney had binders. Word.

If they say they are on psychiatric meds you are one step closer. Compare notes, develop a rapport.

If they say they are on painkillers: jackpot.

You and her hit it off. Remember: she is bored, most likely. Just don't be an asshole. It is also important to be in good hygiene: that can be a deal-breaker. A lot of guys in Seattle take themselves out of the running on this one: bad hygiene with a big hipster beard? She is already unconsciously reaching for the travel-size hand-sanitizer in her purse. So: courteous and clean. Simple, sometimes.

Even if you have your car parked outside, take a taxi to her hotel. A lot of men don't realize that the interior of their car often gives off a faint serial-killer air. Especially in Seattle: Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgway and all that. You won't probably know why there is that serial-killer air; it doesn't matter. Unless you do know why, which is a set of circumstances for another time. Regardless: no nervous laughter. That should be obvious.

Again: take the taxi. And pay for it, even if she says she has an expense account. It is in the details, people.

So now you. are in the hotel room. From here on out I can't really help you: there are a lot of subtle clues occurring where you just have to be there, and when you are there you need to be able to recognize what is signal and what is noise.

One of the most important clues you need to recognize: when she wants you to leave. You should stick the landing on this one, so everybody leaves feeling it was a good light diversion. Overstaying your welcome makes her realize she is in a hotel room with a stranger, and now there is that serial-killer air again.

Of course, some Seattle girls like that serial-killer air. A little danger, a little edge, a bit of Daddy Issues.

I could probably help you with that, too, but perhaps another time.

The male gaze: yeah, I got that.

-jj

Tank said...

Push back?

More like look away.

Or run away.

james james said...

Didn't realize that was that long. Yikes.

-jj

Wilbur said...

And to be exclusive, we must decide whom to include.

I remember when "exclusive" was a more positive description of a place or thing, sort of a synonym for classy or top quality. Is it still?

james james said...

Oh yeah:

Q: Are We Not Trans Men?

A: We Are Devo!

It's a wonderful time to be here
It's nice to be alive
Wonderful people everywhere
The way they comb their hair
Makes me want to say
It's a wonderful place

-jj

Levi Starks said...

I imagine they they must be offended at how little offense actual men will take from being excluded.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Husband is going to the UAE for work. The trains have women and children only cars. Funny how this made me mad until reading further and seeing that it's optional, women are allowed in the male cars, but w/c cars are provided to protect them from handsy men who are strictly barred from entering the women cars. Evidently 100+ men a day are arrested and fined for entering them.

rhhardin said...

Gotta get this guy out of the room

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Demoiselles_d%27Avignon#/media/File:Pablo_Picasso,_1905,_Nus_(Nudes),_pencil_on_paper.jpg

Ray said...

Pretty sexist...

What if it was an all male group?

james james said...

I know a woman at the bar who occasionally does belly-dancing at a burlesque club. It is Seattle: of course I do.

She is a little heavy, but she moves well. I think she'd be more attractive with less make-up, but I am not going to tell her that: it is Her Look. Sometimes you gotta keep your male gaze to yourself.

Conversations with her can be interesting, but a lot of the talk centers around her friends and their activities. And from their activities I think I really don't want to be their friends. Fringy. Piercings come up a lot. Again, it is Seattle: of course they do.

I think she has a crush on one of the guys at the bar, a construction worker. I don't think he is into burlesque strippers, just stripper-strippers, probably. She stares at him from time to time, and he reads the newspaper, usually followed up by doing the crossword puzzle. I have seen the puzzles lying on the bar sometimes; he is good at crossword puzzles.

I am sure there are guys in the audience who love her at the burlesque club. They probably think she is untouchable. And for them, that is probably right: the guys who go to those things rarely look like construction workers.

-jj

SGT Ted said...

Institutionalized man-hating and heterophobia that calls itself "empowerment".

"Male gaze" = "Mom, brother is looking at me!". It's childishness claiming to be ideology.

They've completely gone down the rabbit hole, utterly ignoring the fact that the history of ritualized, sexual dancing is a form of female sexual power over men.

If they are Strong Independent Women! then they shouldn't care less if some dude is watching them.

Jim Gust said...

I am so tired of the phrase "cis male." Doesn't actually make sense.

But "heterophobia" is great. I have to remember to use that.

tcrosse said...

Empower me with a spoon.

Phil 3:14 said...

Cloning and sex selection abortions. That would solve all this mess.

Sebastian said...

"Why not just say "men"?" Lemme guess: because only one kind is actual men?

Anyway, more feminist "equality": to be equal, we must have our women-only events, to avoid the male gaze and all that, but men must not be allowed to have their male-only spaces, because.

Gusty Winds said...

has not received much pushbacks from men...about attendance

I’m sure the returning deer hunters and the boys at Sigma Chi we’re extremely disappointed.

SGT Ted said...

Funny how the lesbians get a pass, as if their gaze isn't a sexually evaluating one.

"Cis male" is used as a slur, to contrast the gender-kooks as being better people, because they aren't cis males. It is central to the heterophobic outlook of gender-kook ideology.

MadisonMan said...

I read that article this morning before going out. I thought it made the women involved look pathetically weak, as if a male gaze would cause them to crumble.

This activity seems like middle school girls singing karaoke in someone's basement. Safe? Yes. Boring? Also Yes.

FIDO said...

How does one look at this 'sexual' dance thing excluding men as anything but the Lesbians trying to freshen up their dating pool?

Mac McConnell said...

A lesbian Sock Hop.

Fernandistien said...

John Lynch said...
Strip out the lefty word salad and it's totally normal.


Hen party: It's safe!
Hen party: It's edgy!
Hen party: It's sexual!
Hen party: It's asexual!
Hen party: It's inclusive!
Hen party: It's exclusive!
Hen party: It's non-binary!
Hen party: It's validation-free!
Hen party: It's about dancing, flower arranging and macrame!

FIDO said...

What is it about the psychology of women that women can't be women in front of men?

Original Mike said...

"Despite not being included in participation, ['Inappropriate Song Night'] has not received much push back from men or trans men about attendance."

Not many men-men would want to attend.

FIDO said...

So...is this self selecting the dateless, the undatable or both?

Mark said...

Excluding men of any description displays a highly inappropriate and offensive binary mindset.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

People without genitals show up and still find a way to make it about sex.

FIDO said...

There is nothing that relieves the hurt of being rejected by men than actively rejecting men.

Isn't that the basis of the 'He Man/Woman Haters' Club on the Little Rascals?

SGT Ted said...

"I thought it made the women involved look pathetically weak, as if a male gaze would cause them to crumble."

Yea, pretty much. There is a lot of mental illness in the SJW movement. Central to it is that gender dysphoria disorder isn't a mental illness, but is instead an oppressed political minority.

SGT Ted said...

"Despite not being included in participation, ['Inappropriate Song Night'] has not received much push back from men or trans men about attendance."

"No one is oppressing me! Dammit!"

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It is stories like this one that make me long for the Zombie Apocalypse to cleanse society of this pretentious BS.



Lem said...

If any “pushback” is to be pushed, let women do it.

I’m for freedom of association.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Why not just say "men"? "

--> To ensure your audience knows your level of wokeness.

William said...

There is nothing easier to escape than the tyranny of the male gaze. I wonder how liberated Bridget Bardot feels these days?

chickelit said...

Obsessing over the "tyranny of the male gaze" is feminism in a nuthell.

Lem said...

Inclusion is overrated.

When you get a chance compare the international arrivals/departures building at NYC JFK with the other exclusive airlines buildings around it. Same in Newark’s Liberty. La Guardia is no good. It’s a strip mall.

Lem said...

I’m sitting at a men’s AA meeting btw.

james james said...

I don't spend all my time at the bar. It is Seattle: it is fun to get around. Things happen.

But, in the bar, Seattle kinda comes to me. One guy lives in Ballard: you hear about the latest quirks in Ballard. One girl lives in Ravenna: you hear about Ravenna. And so on.

I like the University District. Good bookstore, good bar, the kids and their energy and their little dramas that will look sweetly quaint a few years later. Sure, it's a bit seedy: heroin kids can make that happen. But when the sky is deep blue and it's a nice sixty degrees, well: pretty nice.

There is a lesbian couple that come to the bar on occasion. When they do, they play pool. One is butch and covered in tattoos; the other is girly, with a tiny stud in her nose. In other words, stereotype Seattle. Sometimes they kiss and make out by the pool table, their cues laying against the wall; I think they are a little disappointed that no one cares about their display. No disgust, no rolled eyes, no snide comments. What's the use of being marginalized if you can't get people to marginalize you?

Now, when two drunk college girls do the giggly pretend-lesbian kiss: people watch that. Male Gaze fodder at it's finest, at least for when the girls are still wearing clothes.

Toss in yoga pants and it really gets good.

-jj

Gahrie said...

Beyond dancing, I wonder about sex itself. Should men be excluded, for feminist empowerment?

Academic feminism does indeed argue that heterosexuality is a tool of the patriarchy, and that all penis in vagina sex is rape.

Earnest Prole said...

Research shows that self-identified heterosexual females look upon their fellow heterosexual females with a gaze every bit as erotically intense as heterosexual males.

MayBee said...

I'm just trying to figure this out along with the whole trans in the bathroom thing and I'm not really sure what the rules are, tbh

Yancey Ward said...

Empowering the psychologically weak is at the core an impossible task.

Yancey Ward said...

As for the "inappropriate locution" about men and transgendered men- I think this is pretty simple to explain- to have not excluded the latter would have been to admit they aren't really men, a PC no no. My question is this- what would they do if a normal man showed up claiming to not be a man but one of the non-binary genders? The entire thing seems ridiculous.

Freeman Hunt said...

Related to the fat acceptance movement?

FIDO said...

Research shows that self-identified heterosexual females look upon their fellow heterosexual females with a gaze every bit as erotically intense as heterosexual males.

I would guess that it isn't as threatening simply because of the size differences.

Jupiter said...

I would feel more comfortable about this if they had armed guards to make sure I can't possibly get in. This reliance on voluntary compliance with social norms strikes me as very risky. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Jupiter said...

"Research shows that self-identified heterosexual females look upon their fellow heterosexual females with a gaze every bit as erotically intense as heterosexual males."

Well, that's one of those things. I read something like that, and I start to think about why that might be. And then I think, How do you suppose those researchers were able to measure the erotic intensity of the female gaze? Check the electrical conductance of their palms?

Mr Wibble said...

I used to go to a burlesque show when I lived in Colorado. The girls were generally nice people, but they were mostly amateurs who were doing it because they wanted to become more confident with their bodies. Sometimes it they were fun to look at, other times it was a bit of a trainwreck. But I have to give the girls props for getting up on stage. When I moved out to LA, I went to a couple of shows, and the girls were basically all professional actresses and theater dancers. They looked good, but it lost some of the fun.

gregq said...

Yancey Ward said...
My question is this- what would they do if a normal man showed up claiming to not be a man but one of the non-binary genders? The entire thing seems ridiculous.

Exactly. Were I in the area, I'd show up in slacks and a polo shirt, and tell them I'm a trans woman, and demand to be let in.

Even better would be all the fun of responding harshly to anyone who challenges my "trans-ness" just because I'm dress like a "traditional male."

:-)

Eddy Wobegon said...

Can't scientists come up with a force field that effectively blocks the "male gaze" from ever reaching its intended targets?

If we can master sub-atomic particles through devices like the Large Hadron Collider and if we can propel tons of matter by a magnetic railgun, surely we can design a force field to block patriarchy and racism from its victims.

William said...

"Mom, he's looking at me! Make him stop!"

Like pathetic children. The girls' version of the "He-man Woman Hater Club".

JAL said...

So are there lesbians lusting after the belly dancers with a "female" gaze?

RigelDog said...

There is something to the idea that the male gaze can make women uncomfortable. Haven't had a problem with it since my forties, but I am sharply reminded of it when walking with my twenty-something daughter. She stops traffic. Mostly it's benign but just last week a man focused on her and harangued her for half a block. "Hey, why aren't you smiling? C'mon, give us a smile! Beautiful girl like you should be smiling..." We turned to each other once out of earshot and simultaneously said, "I HATE it when they order you to smile!"

Molly said...

If the sentence is not confusing enough already, it is poorly written. They intended to say,
"Despite being excluded from participation, men and trans-men have not pushed back against Inappropriate Song Night"

dwshelf said...

I think this is progress. Everyone should be able to select their own companions.

tcrosse said...

Finn Enke — a nonbinary trans male and UW-Madison professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, History and LGBTQ Studies

This person's resume must make interesting reading.

Unknown said...

"I imagine they they must be offended at how little offense actual men will take from being excluded."

Bingo. Naturally that will be cause for further grievance.

Is it wrong that the phrase "fat acceptance movement" makes me laugh aloud every time I read it?

Daniel Jackson said...

"Can't scientists come up with a force field that effectively blocks the "male gaze" from ever reaching its intended targets?"

SHADES, Dude; shades

Ray said...

Ionescu is writing from being the grave.

fivewheels said...

"I imagine they they must be offended at how little offense actual men will take from being excluded."

It's all in the marketing.

"Hey, you want to go see some amateur women doing old-time burlesque?"
"Sure, OK, why not."

"Hey, you want to go see some feminists doing old-time burlesque?"
"Oh, dear lord, no, I think there's a Bucks game on tonight."

Jupiter said...

Mr Wibble said...
"The girls were generally nice people, but they were mostly amateurs who were doing it because they wanted to become more confident with their bodies. Sometimes it they were
fun to look at, other times it was a bit of a trainwreck. But I have to give the girls props for getting up on stage. When I moved out to LA, I went to a couple of shows, and the girls were basically all professional actresses and theater dancers."

Women who make formal sexual displays are always referred to as "girls". By speakers of both sexes.

BJM said...

What next? Female only water fountains? Female only public transport seating?

How does self-segregation empower women?

JohnnyL said...

Validation by the male gaze. Hmmmm. I wonder if they realize that it's validation by females that all women crave or its why they dress the way they do. These type of gatherings are all so artificial. A bunch of women, pretend women, and confused somethings who both men and other women won't look at or give two cents for all gathered in the same place all celebrating the fact that they are so awful that they don't have to worry about anyone trying to connect with them or even have a thought about them.

buwaya said...

Seattle must be rather weird.
I dont think anyone in San Francisco reads actual newspapers anymore, other than the occasional Bart-living wino.
And construction workers here tend to look Mexican, are rather chunky, and all of them seem to have phones like everyone else.

That, or your story is a bit historical.

buwaya said...

I wonder about the nature of the transity of the trans people.
The way it plays out in the world of anything non-sexual.

Male-female trans sorts seem to reject male interests for the sake of their female fetish. No male car-gadget-facts obsessions. On the other hand, there are no female crafts obsessions either. No making of dresses, lace, knitting, etc.

Its not really a life outside of the obsession.

Female-male trans sorts arent really into male things either, unless they are specifically public sexual signals like motorcycles. None of that man-cave shed stuff.

So, ditto.

Gretchen said...

"Ah, I see the answer in the article. There was concern that if trans men were not specifically excluded, they might feel offended by an unintended message of inclusion. It was therefore important to signal to them that they are regarded as members of the male group, the ones who are excluded. That is, they were shown the respect of being included in the exclusion."

More proof that these people sit around looking for crap to be offended or WOKE about. How about lesbians? Lesbians look and other women for sexual gratification ... or trans men who are lesbians ...

Crazy stuff.

walter said...

Gusty Winds said...
Don’t the bull dykes just replace the men not in attendance?
--
Apparently, one objectification is more acceptable than the other.
If I happened upon this "show", I would not have to be asked to leave.
I hope the flooring is up to the task.

james james said...

"Seattle must be rather weird.
I dont think anyone in San Francisco reads actual newspapers anymore, other than the occasional Bart-living wino.
And construction workers here tend to look Mexican, are rather chunky, and all of them seem to have phones like everyone else.

That, or your story is a bit historical."

There is almost always a Seattle Times on the bar each day. Probably for the sports page and the crossword.

Most of the construction workers in the neighborhood are white -- see a fair amount because they are building the train station a block over. A few Hispanics, a few more blacks. Starting to see a few Hispanics make their way from California, but they mostly go the the farming areas, not the city. Still pretty much a trickle in Seattle, compared to the California valley I remember from 15+ years ago.

-jj

walter said...

I wonder how much Curves has made off the exclusion of the male gaze.

walter said...

There a number of male gaze grazing establishments with Curves in their name.
I guess the Curves gym chain is taking back that word.

Earnest Prole said...

How do you suppose those researchers were able to measure the erotic intensity of the female gaze?

They check the electric conductance all right, but not on the palms.