A recent advertisement by Gillette entitled "the best men can be" follows on the tails of the #metoo movement, encouraging men to be conscientious and courageous gentlemen, not only avoiding being crude, sexist, and racist but to intervene in conflict where others who acting out those old scripts. Excellent ad, powerful and timely.
There had been over 2 million views in the first 24 hour period and over 200K tweets in response. Not surprising. What is shocking is that 90% of the responses have been negative, calling the ad feminist propaganda. The enraged respondents have vowed to stop using Gillette products.
Seriously?!! We find advertisements promoting respect, civility, decency and courage offensive?!!
Certainly most of us have been guilty of at least some of the offenses highlighted in the video, me included. But I wouldn’t defend or dismiss that behaviour as what it means to be male, as many of the tweets do.
What to do? Dance tango.
Really? OK this might not be everyone’s idea of the first go-to place in addressing sexism given tango’s checkered past and often lurid stage representation. Nonetheless, I have always contended that tango is a unique medium for addressing some of our relational deficits between men and women.
First and foremost, it teaches men how to relate to their own bodies in a fluid, rhythmic, non-combative manner. Secondly, it provides a safe, structured and socially acceptable context to learn how to engage your dance partner in close physical contact without it being sexualized. In addition, it encourages the development of relational virtues or respect, attentiveness, listening, attunement and so much more.
15 suggestions to making your dance chivalrous.
Make the dance about your partner, not yourself. This is not the opportunity to pump up your male ego and put on a performance. Become the foil that showcases your partner center-stage.
Play to your partner’s strengths and abilities and work with or around her limitations. A dance is the time to find mutual middle ground, not to upstage or embarrass your partner for not being able to keep up.
Protect your partner. Care for her. Keep her safe on the dance floor. Do not lead a move that will open her or your neighbour to injury.
Provide a strong frame and balance. A strong frame provides structure within which your partner can move and play with freedom and security.
Envision your lead as an invitation, an open door, a suggestion with possibilities rather than a power play which forces compliance.
GIve time and space to your partner to complete her moves to her liking. Embellishments are her opportunity for creative expression,and to gift beauty to the dance.
Share this lead. Ok not 50-50 but there are some ways that you can give more control to your partner. As leads, we don’t have to be responsible for everything all the time. Open yourself and the dance up to your partner’s influence.
Be attentive to your partner’s axis and weight shift, ensuring that she is on her axis with the correct foot before another step is planned.
Smile in greeting. Make eye contact. Compliment. Give your partner the assurance that she is the most important person in your world at that moment.
Focus on depth of connection rather than complexity of maneuvers. Don’t worry about boring your partner. She will love you for it.
Leave the adjustment of the embrace to your partner. If she is not comfortable with close embrace do not force it.
Escort your partner on and off the dance floor. Thank her for accepting your invitation and thank her for the dances when finished.
Give special delicate attention to the embrace and everything that feed into this, the eye contact, the extended hand of invitation, the positioning of your arm. Do not enforce the positioning. Readjust or recalibrate throughout the dance.
Revisit and renegotiate the embrace throughout the dance, (if your are dancing salon style.) This is the heart of the dance, the nourishing core. Pause. Share a breath.
Enjoy yourself! And make sure your partner does as well.