I was at a party last summer; great friends, great liquor, great band. I was dancing and singing along, as I am wont to do, and a man I didn’t know grabbed my hand and started dancing with me. I fell right in and after dancing and spinning with him for about 45 seconds, he said very sternly, “Let ME lead.”
For a brief second I felt chastised, as I have heard this from men I’m dancing with many times over the years. Apparently there are rules to dancing, and rule #1 is the man leads and the woman follows.
But here’s the thing; I love to dance, and I’m good at it. I took years of dance lessons as a girl. I don’t need someone to lead me into the next move.
We danced for another minute or so and he said again, “Let ME lead,” a little louder and sterner.
I’m happy to report that I did what I’ve wanted to do for most of my life when confronted with this situation. I said, “F**k this!” and went off and danced on my own again.
But it got me thinking about all of the rules women are given stating that it’s our job to follow, and how we feel like something is wrong with us if we don’t.
It also got me wondering about what it’s like to be a man; to be someone who feels comfortable telling a complete stranger that she should follow his lead simply because he’s the man and this is the way it’s supposed to be.
And I started to wonder about the beliefs and rules that are so imbedded in us and why a man dancing with a woman wouldn’t just follow her lead? If she’s not standing there waiting for you to lead her, and seems to know what she’s doing, why not follow her lead?
Over the years people have said to me, ‘well, dancing is not something most men are comfortable with so they like to do it the only way they know how.’ My thoughts on that are…tough shit. Why is it always the woman’s job to make the man comfortable? If the woman is comfortable leading, why doesn’t the man do what’s comfortable for her and let her lead?
Don’t our roles on the dance floor make a perfect metaphor for the way life plays out in almost every area between genders?
I’ve been hearing about all the things that I have too much of for as long as I can remember; too loud, too strong, too bossy, too opinionated. And I just have to ask…too much for who?
Who is it that made these rules that govern our behavior, and why are we following them?
That’s really the question; why are we following them? Isn’t it odd that before we’re born there are templates for our behavior already in place regarding our genders? If we exhibit any behaviors outside of what’s considered the norm, we can count on someone chastising us to get back in line.
I am beyond done with following the rules that govern my behavior as a woman. How about you?