Defensive Oct 24, 2014

by Dylan Ward

I got a little angry at a friend last night; not uncommon for me in the evening because I get grumpy; suffice it to say the conversation turned to the subject of gender and Amy O’Neal’s piece.

Well, I get real defensive of boys.  I’ve been accused of being defensive of boys in the subject of gender talk because I’m a boy or male privilege or that I’m gay and find men attractive.

I am gay and I find men physically attractive but no that’s not why I’m defensive of boys.

Let’s talk about Amy’s piece “Opposing Forces” and see why: the movement was exemplative of why.

Very simply, the alternation between hard and soft movement on a male body which, in order to be perceived as operating “correctly,” usually operates on a level of hard movement.

“Male” movement is perceived as bigger, larger, stronger, by and large.  A man moving softly or delicately illicits a response that ranges from a more classic homophobic negative to a more modern “oh-hes-just-being-showy” negative.

Men also live in a man’s world, my friend summed it up for me when we were driving home.  We, and I mean we as in the physical audience, are living a post-feminist society (maybe someone will get mad at me for saying this for some reason or because I am not a woman but Seattle is post-feminist because its trying to figure out what feminism is and maybe we all are and so am I so technically I am post feminist).

And I believe that because we are now trying to figure out how to consider both genders as unique but as socially equiniminous we all have A LOT of anxiety.

Sometimes men get the short stick; something like b-boying can become a symbol of male privilege and peacockingness in our post-feminist considerations when in fact, when considered closely, a particularly male gentleness is revealed within the movement itself. A yielding.

I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder; as a young, hormone addled gay male I cannot trust myself sometimes with the burden of objectively when viewing a man dance, since there is the possibility of attractive bias upon viewing the male form, but oh man, that was some of the most beautiful dancing last night.

Because, and it did take some watching closely, I saw men perform actions to other men, with themselves, I have never seen them do out in the open, in public. Nothing heightened as might be in contemporary concert dance, something like a connection I feel daily with other men, simply for being a man, expressed last night as a touch on the shoulder or careful placement of the ankle.

So I feel defensive of men because viewing men only for their privilege means missing the details of what else is uniquely male, including those details which blur “male.”

Amy’s piece is like a dias upon which she’s placed an object: breakdancing, and there, it rotates, and if we look we can see a million fucking things.