It Takes A “Real” Man To Follow Like A Man: A note on gender roles reversal in Argentinian tango dancing
In line with my general research interests, I am currently conducting an independent research focusing on the possible effects of the bodily knowledge acquired through Argentinian tango dancing on non-Argentinian practitioners’ perception of self, others and the environment. The planned multi-sited fieldwork is still in its early stages and it started in Beirut - Lebanon.
A few days ago, a tango dancer, teacher and community leader in Beirut shared a video on his personal Facebook page featuring a tango performance where the Argentinian dancing couple is reversing roles.
In a Lebanese patriarchal context, the video did not gather much of men's “likes” (using facebook language). Users who commented on the video highlighted their amusement, most likely generated by the male burlesque performance more than anything else. Though, the video couldn’t be more “Patriarchal”!
Although he was “following” (dancing women’s role), the male performer made sure he was not only dominating his partner, but the dance-floor, and the public. His overplayed femininity overtook the sober interpretation of his partner, who was performing the “lead” (men's role) with a subtle feminine grace, despite her shy attempt to act manly. Through a mockery act, he didn’t only ensure his superior stance over his female partner, but he also seems to be justifying his choice, as a heterosexual male, in playing a role presumably attributed to women.
If one wishes to submit to the perpetuated idea that tango dance is a metaphor of (social) life, the question that arises here would be the following: Why, in a hetero-normative yet modern environment, it seems perfectly acceptable for a woman to “lead”, as a woman, while men are not capable to undertake a role conventionally attributed to women without hiding behind an extravagant act of camouflage out of embarrassment and fear of being judged?
If, in certain modern societies, feminism has succeeded in ensuring women legitimacy to “lead” in the public sphere, it seems that it is still facing a fierce resistance on the part of heterosexual men, who, in many instances, do not appear to be ready to the mere idea of exploring a woman’s position; or maybe don't have the guts to do so, as MEN (in its very hetero-normative sense).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association or the MA program.