Playing Safe in the SAME Sandbox.

Can Tango reduce violence against women?


OK. We wouldn’t necessarily prescribe tango as therapy for psychopaths, mostly because no one would want to share the dance with them. But, nonetheless, from all the editorials and reports about Canada’s most recent mass murderer, the root of the violence is something that we can at least partially address on the dance floor.

I am referring to the drive-by murders in Toronto last week by a total wack-job who took out his frustrations on 24 innocent victims, mostly women, walking down a sidewalk.

What was his problem?

According to his testimony, he was sexually frustrated. He couldn’t get a date, let alone get laid. Women were a total mystery to him. So rather than learn how to communicate with the opposite sex, he acted out violently. Unfortunately, not an unheard of reaction.

How does it get to this?

Men and women don’t play in the same sandbox.

Let me change the story. Something more lighthearted. When I was in the Lutheran Ministry for a brief stint, my one and only charge was in a rural ethnic community. The first social event, all the women stayed upstairs in the kitchen, all the men went downstairs in the basement. This struck my wife and I as very peculiar but this pattern repeated itself consistently. Men and women would not be seen in the same room, let alone talk to each other.

Did they not know how?
Did they not have anything in common or any shared interests?
Would it reflect poorly on their sexuality if they crossed across the room to chat it up with the other gender?

I immediately concluded that I needed to start building  bridges between these two solitudes, to help get a conversation started, make some introductions. Take things out of jungle into the 20 century, past the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” dialogue. I kept at it, building bridge after bridge until I went way too far and most of them started burning behind me and I got out of town just before I got seriously fried.

(Maybe not a viable strategy but a noble effort. If you want to know more, buy my book, Trauma to Tango: dancing through the shadows of unforgiven dreams. A fun read, I am told.)

When I left the church, I expected to leave behind this sexual isolationism. Strangely I don’t notice much difference: Men in one place, women another. Men work in construction, women in the helping industries. Men play sports, women take yoga or Reiki or other sensitivity practices.

Not exclusively of course,  but close. I am currently employed as a Social Worker. One of three men in an office of 25. That ratio is pretty consistent throughout the helping professions. And the reverse is true in the trades.

What is wrong with this picture?

I know one thing. We are not learning about playing safe together if we are playing in separate sandboxes.

One of the significant exceptions is tango, believe it or not. Not entirely true; women usually outnumber 60/40 but nonetheless it is one of those rare contexts in our society where men and women are actually engaged on a level playing field, in the same sandbox, learning how to listen, pay attention, be respectful, make connections.

Which is why I contend that if more people danced there would be more communication, more understanding and less aggression, frustration and violence.

Am I naive? What do you think? Respond below.