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Thread: Devon classes ?

  1. #11
    V.I.P. khanjar's Avatar
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    May 2008
    South West England
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duvet View Post
    I'm really sad to hear your experience of teachers in Devon has been so negative. Have they all refused you access to classes solely on the gender issue?
    Yes they have, all bar one and that situation might be more down to my misunderstanding, as I tend to see in black and white and rarely anything in between, that being what is written between the lines or even nuances of speech, I tend not to understand and so as a default always tend to think the worst case scenario, which is with me yet again rejection from something I have grown to love.
    As to the BD scene, oh yes I know for much has improved since I first started out and it is with hope that if I cannot rectify my present situation, which in all honesty I understand might be impossible, for when I perceive threat or prejudice, well, I can be narrow minded myself and see myself again being rejected. But if I am to continue with what I love then it is with hope some minds might have since been changed, or else more proficient people might have taken the narrow mind's place, for I have noticed some old nay sayers don’t seem to be here anymore.
    I too have been refused access to workshops, festivals and classes. I only once allowed a teacher to refuse me access without a proper explanation, and have regretted it ever since. I also have had bad experiences with some students’ opinions and reactions to me (some intentionally harmful, some a consequence of unconscious sexism). It got me really down at the early stage, and still can, and like you I nearly gave up. But fortunately I had already been dancing a couple of years, knew some wonderful people, and realised that the problem wasn't with me, nor with them, but with their experience.
    I can quite honestly say the class I was with never did I receive any negative comment, everyone, the rest female was wholly encouraging and helpful, that is why I believe the majority who attend classes of this type are of a more modern thinking, and it is why I value the input of many a female, but there are some, always some that seem to have an elder age thinking, but to them I may ask which way do they want it, chivalry or the modern age, because I can do either, but with me, it is one or the other I will not do both, for as I see females as equal to males, I will not see either more than equal for that is much of the same that we have thankfully left behind.

    As regards classes not having experienced menearning along side them curious don’t you think, males are part of society in everything including single parents child and parent groups, but something as simple as dance, and there is so much controversy when males want to be equal too, but as many classes that won’t have a male dancer in them are quite happy to have male musicians, so what gives. But on the subject of letching, why is it assumed all males letch, is it because of negative information from the past, which might very well just be myth, because who has experienced it, and if they have, isn’t that part of attraction, why seek to be attractive and then take offence to those that notice, it just does not make sense.
    But in society males come in for a bad rap and that I believe is because of the media who still like to on a regular basic drag up the old stereotypes to remind the viewer that males are a dangerous creature to be avoided where possible, or on the other hand are just plain ineffectual, not worthy of consideration.
    There are also some teachers who were trained by other teachers who advised against men attending classes; some teachers have had bad experiences with men in classes; some teachers view their class as a woman's refuge and support group; some teachers think men shouldn’t bellydance; some just don't want men on principal. But these types of teacher are far fewer then the noise they make would lead you to believe.

    Every teacher will be different, with their own reasons for not wanting a man in the class.
    I prefer to think most women these days, particularly those of a younger generation accept males as just complimentary to their gender and they like many males are keen to see each other perform in representation of this dance, because although some may disagree, I believe nature had it right, males are complimentary to females, therefore to be natural and human, both genders are in fact the same. I also challenge refusals, probably in bad judgement in much hindsight, but of the Goddess squad that I have come across that bear negativity towards myself as a belly dancer, I ask them how comfortable they are at refusing those of their own belief, when it is we believe the same, how would the omnipotent Goddess view that.
    I do not know how you react to the rejections, but while I feel angry and frustrated, I also respond with an interest in the teacher’s perspective and the reasons why they don’t want me to attend. (You can’t fight against what you don’t know). By emphasising that whatever the outcome, it is still their class/event and so their decision which I respect, they usually take the time to consider my arguments. If they advertise themselves as ‘fun for everyone’ or ‘anyone can attend’, challenge them on their non-gender specific advertising, and point out how misleading it is, and how embarrassing it is to be rejected. I have a real bugbear about teachers misrepresenting themselves.
    Yes, where public literature or webspace says open to all no matter what gender, ability or age , those that in practice do otherwise, I always challenge on the basis of misrepresentation, as what is a person saying if to be politically correct to the public perception and then do different when it happens the wrong gender applies to be included, to me that is just out and out fraud, and something in me seems to want to expose the liars in society. But perhaps I also do myself no favours, because I am very sensitive and with that sensitive to any hint of discrimination, for I have experienced much discrimination in my life, usually simply because I do not fit into the common stereotypical mould. Rejection, I know that well too and do not do very well with it as again; lifes rich experience is a tutor, so sadly I expect rejection no matter how hard I fight to achieve what I want, so that might have some influence on my train of thought, but perhaps viewers think it wrong, but because of my BD experience and despite all the friends I have made and the trust gained in BD, I view myself as there on license only, not fully integrated and that because of the UK BD ‘’who can do it’’ mentality.
    I also don’t know how you react to others people’s responses to you being a belly dancer. Guffaws of laughter, odd looks, accusations of lying, questions about your gender/sexuality, innuendos and dirty jokes (often from the women), lots of silly questions - it used to annoy me and make me feel ‘why can’t they just accept a male bellydancer like they accept a female plumber?!!’ But in the end I now see it as again due to their experience. The questions I used to get annoyed were usually genuine curiosity and the responses are attempts to fit me into their stereotypical (and narrow) view of a bellydancer.
    As to where I stand in this art and be a belly dancer, I am proud of it, and have no problem revealing my love to others when they ask, I have had the wise cracks and references to my sexuality, but in that area of my life, I m confident, so no one can winkle away there, and any other comments, I now tend to ignore, but one area I still seem to have problems with, is the attitude of authority and their representitives.
    I do not know your full situation, and do not know you or your life, only what you have posted so far, and telling you all this doesn’t mean that I think it’ll make you feel any better about it. It is only based on my thoughts and feelings in my own situation at this moment in time. You might be in the unfortunate situation that all the teachers around you are unwilling to take you on. Your financial situation might mean you can’t attend workshops /weekend events (but if you’re not paying for classes, then that money could go towards those). Moving may be your only option (Plymouth is a bit out in the wilds), but be aware that there are lots of teachers in the UK who are not consciously discriminatory, and are actually willing to listen to your experiences and take them on board.

    So whatever happens, don't give up. Learn from it all, and if people don't want you, its their loss!
    I do thank you for taking the time to write all this which is very encouraging, because you also have experienced much of what I have, and there know just how hurtful it can be and all this in a society where we are told ; equal opportunities apply to all, sadly as males who wish to belly dance, this often isn’t the case. But when a woman can now be a plumber or anything that was once the preserve of the male of the species, why is it there is still so much resistance to males who wish to follow what in this country is considered to be a female only pursuit, for that does not to me speak of equality, that to me is saying some are more equal than others and that sadly is the boot now on the other foot, discrimination again, so perhaps the feminist pendulum has swung too far past equilibrium in some respects.

    But as to myself, I have been struggling with depression for these past seven years and the last four of unemployment for definite where Aspergers became known to be the major component, so I have learned my problem is communication, what I perceive and what I experience seems to follow bi polar thinking and as a result what I think and come to do grudgingly follows on a logic basis.

  2. #12
    V.I.P. Aniseteph's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Sussex, England
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    Anti-discrimination legislation is a tool but it does not fix individuals' attitudes - there still have to be pioneers who push through and show the prejudiced that yes, a woman CAN be a plumber, and a guy CAN join a belly dance class, the sky won't fall down and maybe all our lives will be enriched for it.

    If any of the local classes are generally advertised on websites, FB or whatever, and there's nothing in the public info about Wimmin Only/ No Men, why do you even have to ask if it's OK? Never ask a question if you suspect you won't like the answer! From your POV they are offering a class, nothing to say you aren't eligible, you want to go - end of story. Discrimination is wrong/illegal.

    The only reason I'd phone a teacher as a relative beginner is to ask if it was OK to join mid-session. Otherwise, for a publicised class, I'd just turn up - why shouldn't you? And the ball is back in their court. Chances are the teacher will not have the nerve to say anything (we are British, after all ) because it is awkward and might make her look/feel bad. I suspect in practice the average person would prefer to just put up with Guy In Class Who Is Not Bothering Anyone than to make it into an embarrassing situation. And by being that guy you are not only getting your classes, you are also showing that teacher and all your classmates that really it is no big deal.

    How small an area are you restricted to? there's one in Plymouth who specifically says men are welcome.

    (Duvet is a guy?! I have been making assumptions )

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