The Sexualization Question

Kara, should we talk about that dance troupe of eight- and nine-year-old girls everyone’s finger-wagging about? Rachel Simmons just wrote a long, distressed post about them on Jezebel, in which she said, “But just because you can wrap your leg behind your ear doesn’t mean you should,” and suggested that a dance troupe with a less glammy routine was healthier.

Anytime anyone starts telling girls to express themselves in more politically relevant or socially appropriate ways (aka: wear sneakers, not high heels to be more feminist) I immediately want to pelt them with glitter gel. As if the girls have some problem, not the people who are watching them and imagining they are trying to be seductive.

Anyone who watches that and thinks those girls are sexy are the people with the problem. Those girls are not sexy. As the parents on Good Morning America pointed out, these are totally standard dance costumes, designed for movement, not unlike a swimsuit. If someone watches that and gets turned on they have the problem. Telling the girls to throw on a sheet lest they excite sickos is the real “sexualization.”  

Those girls are unbelieveable dancers who are working crazy hard. As you can see on GMA, they are adorable, happy kids who just want to give 220% to their work.

For a Time.com article a while back, I interviewed JaQuel Knight,  the choreographer of the Beyonce video, about how kids, even babies, love dancing to that song. He said that he and Beyonce actually tried to make something that felt like kid-dancing does:

“We often went back to our childhood days, when our parents would ask us to dance for all the relatives at the family cookout,” he says. “They weren’t the best steps on the planet, but the feeling, emotion and passion of the steps in that moment were incredible.”

I really think that for these girls that’s what this dance was: part of a wholesome, and totally serious, and for them incredibly fun competition of athletic skill.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Sexualization Question

  1. Thanks for this reminder. I will admit that the first time I watched this video the costumes made me wary, and I felt sad that they were dressed up in thigh highs and chokers. But you’ve just reminded me where the real problem lies. So yeah, thanks.

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