In May of last year, Jenn made a post talking about a YouTube video of some children dancing to the recent hit “Single Ladies.”
(The above link features a bunch of kids dancing in tap pants and sports-bra-like tops. It’s a clever routine — they keep the Fosse influences pretty obvious, and the opening pose directly references Charlie’s Angels)
Here’s a quote from one of the original news articles:
“People have always admired young ballerinas in scanty costumes,” says Friedman, “but those performances weren’t explicitly sexual — there was an aesthetic that didn’t remind you of being in bed.” That’s not the case with the this dance, she says.
Cory Miller, father of one of the girls, defended the dance on “Good Morning America,” saying the girls’ performance was “completely normal for dancing” and just “doing something they completely love to do.”
During the Hathor convo, I highlighted that it’s not the moves themselves or the bodies performing those moves that make the dance seem so “sexy.” Another commentator was really insistent that it WAS the move, and that hip-hop/urban pop dance styles were “too sexy” for little girls. What really irritated the shit out of me is that the conversation at points veered dangerously close to body-shaming, with this same poster insisting that it’s praise-worthy to avoid teaching girls how to move with EVERY part of their body… because why? Hips are automatically “sexy?” How body-shaming, to imply that children (especially girls) have to manage those parts of their body that might jiggle in a provacative way. How slut-shaming, to blame a child for the reaction her body causes in adults, to clutch your pearls over a kid dancing because she’s got a body she’s having fun in.
Anyways, I found this:
It looks like at least two of the dancers from the “Single Ladies” vid, doing a jazz routine to a remake of “My Boyfriend’s Back.” Okay, are you noticing what I’m noticing? The same type of moves, set to a song with ickier lyrics, but no internet furor over kids being too sexy?
Again, same type of moves, different song genre, no internet panic over girls being too sexy for their age. I think part of the response to that “Single Ladies” video had to do with the connotations of the song being a BLACK song by a BLACK singer in a BLACK genre, that the link between black female bodies and sex is strong enough that the idea of a group of white appearing girls getting sucked into all that blackness caused a panic over white feminine innocence, and that that’s a problem for us as adults and anti-racist activists to dismantle, not something for a bunch of kids taking a dance class to get blamed for.