Sunday, October 15, 2006

Tango, Gender and Emancipación ...

Argentine tango is a new orientation of couple dancing. As most dances have a rational-pattern which can be predicted by the follower, the ballast of previous perceptions about strict rules has to be thrown overboard and replaced by a real communication contact, creating a direct non-verbal dialogue. This requires permanent attention and body connection. But leading and following as a mutual conversation is a challenge.

In today's high-pressure environment and single-gender morality, modern women have learned to carry the responsibility, to be independ and not to be led. It is difficult to leave the responsibility for guidance and creativity to the man. European men can find it very uncanny to come out the corner, and to lead "the direction" in a self-confident, decisive manner on the rhythm of music. The psychological barriers are deep grounded in modern society's standpoint, beliefs act like psychological triggers which can block the individual. These emotional obstructions are much more difficult to overcome then the dancefigures. Gender interpretations have had many shapes and changes over time. How much has the relational field changed since 1900 ?

The First World War changed the role of women. The 1914-18 War was so shockingly brutal, that a new sense of personal identity was born. The masses started to reject the concept of privilege as the reason for a better life.

Women stopped wearing jewellery and extravagant clothes. Dress rules for both sexes were relaxed in theatres and other venues. Women began to take part in voluntary work which ultimately broadened their horizons and changed their outlook forever. As women mixed with other classes, social barriers were eaten away and the relaxed dress rules meant that they all began to look similar. The effect of war on styles was that military braiding, belts with buckles and shorter skirts were seen everywhere. Clothes got shorter during the First World War out of practical necessity.

After the war when women's dress became more mannish, each year seemed to get more in contradiction with the feminine woman beneath. Female clothes became looser and more shapeless in fit. The bust was suppressed, the waist disappeared, the shoulders became broader and hair shorter and shorter. The "Modern Woman" was competitive, sporty, emancipated as well as beautiful, and narrow boyish hips were preferred.

This new silhouette emphasised a flattened chest and womanly curves were eliminated as the line became more simplified. The slender flat chested tanned body and face of a 15 year old became the desired profile of the bright young things of the Années Folles. Health and beauty clubs helped women reshape their body profiles whilst getting fitter and healthier. It was a difficult time for the previous leaders of fashion whose style of dressing became as passé as their rounded figures and older faces. More youthful women who could party all night and carry the boyish fashions well were all the rage. Big busted girls turned to bandaging their breasts flat, many adopted a bra that could be laced at both sides and pulled and pulled in to flatten the chest. As long as they looked boyish they looked fashionable.

The 1920's also saw a universal fashion for short hair a more radical move beyond the curtain styles of the war era, which shocked some older citizens, since hair had always been thought a woman's crowning glory.
Once shoes began to be mass manufactured in the 1920s, footwear became an essential fashion accessory. Now it was truly visible beneath shorter dresses it needed to be selected with more care and heels were over 2 inches high.
During this Post First War Epoque, there was an increased use of make up and it was fashionable to perform the rites of make up in public. Instead of disappearing to the powder room women got out their engraved compact and applied lipstick and powder in sight of a whole restaurant or nightclub or tearoom.

The Second World War redifined the gender roles even more. As the men were at the front, the women were needed for the economy. As war and disaster cleaned-up the old habits of mind, the female participation in the work force pushed the post-war economic production. First there was the booming ecomonomy. The consequence was a kind of overactivity, being more and more extreme lean and mean. Then, anorexia management arrived. The anticonception pill too changed the gender identity.

It looks as if the revival of the couple dance is meaningful. Even in today's single-gender context the man/woman-energy conflict seems to be inevitable. Relations go up and down and have episodes of highs and lows like a manic-depressive curve. The dating market is highly competitive and dancing is related to the mating game.

Melina Sedo :

Women coming from holidays in Buenos Aires often mention the frequency of men trying to get friendly to them and one of the most important themes in argentine Milongas seems to be the relations between men and women. And: Tango lyrics mostly refer to men and women! But we non-argentine only speak of tango!

Cultural differences?

Social differences?

Latin Lover ?

In Europe, USA and other non-argentine places tangueros and tangueras seem to be mostly people with high school or university degree. In my poll 136 of 170 tangueros had high school and 125 of them university degree..

Well, most of the argentine tango-dancers coming to teach in Europe and the milongueros in Buenos Aires are no university graduates. And their approach to Tango and sexuality seems to be a little more relaxed than ours, does it not?

Today one is more aware of the factual dangers of expressions of sexuality then ever before, and the behaviors don't seem to be changing and are actually getting worse. The problem seems to stem from the way the message is being presented. Most students report they are tired of being told in lecture format what to do and what not to do. The same messages in the same format have created a backwash of attitudes and behavior. Researchers now tell us that what is needed are new ways of presentation.
To use dramatical presentations to explore behaviors, emotions, and convictions common to college students challenged with decisions concerning sexual behavior and their own sexual identity. The program is designed to model behaviors, skills and attitudes that are closely affiliated with healthy sexual decisions and relationships; to confront sexual myths; and to assist in the formation of positive-enriching rather than negative-destructive self-behaviors.

The masculine-feminine model, unlike the modern unisex model, is based on the differences between men and women - specifically, the power aspects of masculinity and femininity. It recognizes the difference between what a man wants from a woman and what a woman wants from a man.
The masculine-feminine modelling relationship is similar to the relationship between a male leading and a female following relationship, based on mutual understanding.

The man:
The man makes it possible for the woman to express her femininity by taking responsibility for her.
He makes the major decisions, after consulting with his woman
provides the basic necessities - food, clothing, shelter, etc - for his family
creates a structure - rules, routines, etc. - for his family
protects her from the 'masculine domain' (the business world)
protects his family from the dangers outside the home.

The woman:
the woman makes it possible for the man to express his masculinity by giving him the authority to carry out his responsibility for her.

But this society is changed for women nowadays,
and it’s changing for men ...

Partly, it’s the rise of feminism that has led many men, and society as a whole, to rethink gender roles.
And partly, men’s perceptions of themselves and their place in the world is being shaped by media images.
For several decades now, media critics and feminists alike have been examining the role of the media in creating and reinforcing stereotypical representations of women and femininity. But only recently have they expanded the research to consider how the media also construct, inform and reinforce prevalent ideas about men and masculinity.

One of the most socially constructed stereotypes is that of gender.

Gender schema theory argues that people are socialized (e.g., through parents, teachers, peers, toys, and the popular media) into believing that gender differences are significant and worth maintaining . Although there is actually more variability within than between the sexes, the concept of distinct and exclusive gender differences persists nonetheless.

Tango commentators often allude or explicitly refer to a female dancer attractiveness, emotionality, femininity, and heterosexuality (all of which effectively convey to the audience that her stereotypical gender role is more salient than her dancing role), yet male tangueros are depicted as powerful, independent, dominating, and valued.
This trivialization of tangueras is consistent with schema theory, which proposes that people have implicit cognitive structures that provide them with expectancies when processing information .
Conversely, male tangodancers described as attractive were expected to be perceived more negatively than would males not described as such, because the gender schema for tangueros leads people to expect that a man's dancing, rather than his physical attractiveness, should be the focus.

Changes in thinking and attitudes toward sexual and gender identity are taking place in society as a whole and within the sexual and gender identity communities. The meanings of these words will continue to change.
Because there is a slow but clear movement in society away from thinking of most human behaviors as appropriate to one sex and not appropriate to another but toward thinking of most human behaviors as appropriate to both sexes and both genders, below some explanations are listed as variability example.

For instance:
Sexual Identity and Gender Identity are similar in some ways and very different in others. Both refer to how one thinks of a person. The existence and perpetuation of gender and sexual identities is based in the historic and continuing oppression of people do not conform to certain aspects of society's gender roles.

Gender roles refer to the clothing, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc., that are considered appropriate or inappropriate for members of each sex.
However, sex, gender identity, and sexual identity refer to different aspects of oneself.
Therefore, one may be any combination of sex (male/female), gender (masculine/feminine), and sexual identity (straight, bisexual, lesbian/gay.)
Gender identity refers to how one thinks of one's own gender: whether one thinks of oneself as a man (masculine) or as a woman (feminine.)
Society prescribes arbitrary rules or gender roles (how one is supposed to and not supposed to dress, act, think, feel, relate to others, think of oneself, etc.) based on one's sex (whether one has a vagina or a penis.)
These gender roles are called feminine and masculine. Anyone who does not abide by these arbitrary profiles may be targeted for mistreatment.

Sexual identity refers to how one thinks of oneself in terms of whom one is sexually and romantically attracted to, specifically whether one is attracted to members of the same gender as one's own or the other gender than one's own. When one's sex and one's gender identity are different, one may base one's sexual identity on either one. Alternatively, one may have two sexual identities, one as a man and one as a woman.

F / M: Female / Male...

Used to specify the direction of a sex or gender role change.
1. Feminine or effeminate dress and behavior, regardless of _sex_ or _gender identity_.
2. A sub-identity of lesbian or gay, based on masculine or macho dress and behavior. (See _butch_.)

Female: One who has a vagina.

Female Impersonator (FI): A male who, on specific occasions, cross dresses and employs stereotypical feminine dialog, voice, and mannerisms for the entertainment of other people.
Feminine: The _gender role_ assigned to _females_.
Fetishistic Transvestite: A Transvestite who consistently eroticizes Cross Dressing. May also eroticize fantasies of gender/sex change.

Gender (identity): A psychological _gender role_. _Masculine_ or _feminine_. Gender (identity) community: People who identify as transvestite, transsexual, or transgendered, or as members of the gender community.
Gender dysphoria (GD): Unhappiness or discomfort experienced by one whose sexual organs do not match one's gender profile.
Gender neutral: Clothing, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc. which are considered appropriate for members of both sexes.
Gender role: Arbitrary rules, assigned by society, that define what clothing, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc. are considered appropriate and inappropriate for members of each sex. Some clothing, behaviors, etc. are considered appropriate for members of both sexes. Which things are considered masculine, feminine, or neutral varies according to location, class, occasion, and numerous other factors. (See _masculine_, _feminine_, and _gender neutral_.)

Girl: 1. A young female. 2. Colloquial term for _feminine_. Often used to specify gender of clothes. ["My _girl_ clothes."] _Girl_ has often been used as a condescending term for a woman, and is therefore distasteful to many people. (See _boy_.)
Hermaphrodite: One who has both a penis and a vagina.
Heterosexual (het): One who has significant sexual and romantic attractions primarily to members of the other sex (than oneself.) Derogatory terms include: breeder. (See _straight_.)

Heterosexism: The assumption or illusion that identifying as heterosexual and having sexual and romantic attractions only to members of the other sex (than oneself) is good and acceptable, and that other sexual identities and attractions are bad and unacceptable. The assumption that anyone is straight whose sexual orientation is not known, usually coupled with a "blindness" to the existence and concerns of LesBiGays.

Identity: How one thinks of oneself. One's internal self, as opposed to what others observe or think about one. (Social Label, Stigma)
Label: How someone else sees or thinks of one. To be seen or not to be seen as such. Living in the eyes of the other.

But, there is also a sex difference in aggression .
Males tend to show far more "direct" aggression such as pushing, hitting and punching. Females tend to show more "indirect" (or "relational", covert) aggression. This includes gossip, exclusion, and bitchy remarks. It could be said that to punch someone in the face or to wound them physically requires an even lower level of empathy than a verbal snipe.

Article from Tango-Evita

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