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Why I Don’t Dance with Men at the Club

Posted by JD on Monday, May 17, 2010 , under | comments (14)

No Thanks! 
I love to dance. I always have. And, actually, I’m pretty good. When I was really young, my parents would tape Janet Jackson videos for me. I’d spend hours and hours practicing to those tapes until I’d mastered every move down to the smallest hand motion.

When I got older, my friends and I started a singing group and we performed in talent shows. I’d watch hours of videos from different recording artists in order to choreograph our performances. 

I went to my first real dance when I was a freshman in high school. I walked into the party and went straight to the middle of the dance floor where I believed I belonged given my dancing ability. I didn’t pay attention to the way other people were dancing, until an R. Kelly song came on, (I think it was, “It Seems Like You’re Ready), and one of the boys I recognized from school came up behind me, spun me around and tried to grind on me. 

This is totally acceptable..IF we're a couple. 

I pushed him away and put my hands on his shoulders so that we were still dancing together but not touching. He said to me “That’s not how you dance, come on now.” I looked around and noticed that every couple dancing looked like they were simulating some sort of sexual experience. I turned to him and said, “Well, I don’t wanna dance then.” He muttered something about me being stuck up.

I didn’t care.

As I’ve gotten older, the expectation that a man should be able to rub his crotch and hands up against my body just because I’m moving to the beat of a song and every other girl is doing it has gotten even stronger!

 I can’t even the count the number of men who have approached me at a party and attempted to molest me. I use the term “molest” because I was told in elementary school sexual education that molestation happens when a stranger touches you inappropriately. And I believe that every time a woman dances with a man in the club she is subjecting herself to a type of molestation that I personally find to be gross and uninteresting. 

I’ve never really be into the club scene and I believe this is the reason why. When I was in college I had girlfriends who also liked to dance. We’d all go to the middle of the dance floor together. But then they’d start dancing with some guys leaving me dancing happily alone. Well, as soon as I’d be alone someone would try to dance with me, taking all the fun out of an otherwise enjoyable night.

Why can't all men keep their distance like this one??
Is that too much to ask?

I hate that when I politely decline to dance with a man, they assume that I am rejecting them on an individual level. When, in fact, I am simply rejecting the practice of adult strangers humping each other in public. If this same man would have stood facing me while we both did the dougie, everything would be fine…but men don’t want to dance with you unless they can put their unfamiliar hands in places only familiar hands should go.

Once I did try to dance with a man thinking, well, if all the other girls are doing it, maybe it’s not so bad. A guy moved in close behind me and put his hands on my hips as we rocked side to side. I wasn’t too disgusted at first, until he put his hand on my back and tried to push me forward as though he was “hittin’ it from the back.”

I realized then and there that I don’t need to be doing what every other girl is doing. I mean other girls were wearing matching denim jackets and jeans and lining their lips with black liner and I wasn’t considering doing that. Why should I succumb to the pressure to dry hump? 

I was born an individual, and have decided it's best to remain that way.

Nowadays when I go the club (a very rare occurrence) I stay off to the side and only dance on songs that really move me. If I had my wish I would be swag surfing and doing the Dallas boogie and the stanky leg all night. But unfortunately, I’m too afraid of being attacked. 

I wish I could dance with reckless abandon and not worry about explaining my position on molestation to every jigging predator that comes my way; however, until that becomes reality I do the bulk of my dancing in my house or at Joy of Motion--the men there don’t mind keeping their hands to themselves.

When Beauty Masks Pain

Posted by JD on Sunday, May 16, 2010 , under , | comments (3)

Like anyone, there are certain people in the media I admire. Not admire in a she's-my-hero type of way (only mama and'nem get that honor) but in a omg-she-is-so-beautiful-and-fabulous-and-I-bet-her-life-is-great type of way. I see my favorite ladies in magazines and on blogs and I oo and ahh over their latest look or boyfriend.

I'm old enough to know that beauty and celebrity don't equal happiness. Still, over the past couple weeks I have been startled by the fast clip at which some of my favorite women have had their cracks and flaws exposed.

I've written about Kim Kardashian before. I chose her as my "thinspiration" since I think she is gorgeous and very stylish. Over the past few months I started to notice her face looked different. I didn't pay it much attention. But lately, it's hard to overlook. It's pretty clear that she is at the very least going too heavy on the botox. If she keeps it up, pretty soon she'll be a mess.

Not too long ago, Kim's divorce papers made the headlines. She accused her first husband of being controlling, forcing her to have plastic surgery, and being both verbally and physically abusive. Kim's ex husband fired back saying that Kim was herself obsessed with plastic surgery and sabotaging her sisters in the name of success. If I believe them both, which I do, Kim has some very deep issues with her self esteem and self image.

At the same time, Naomi Campbell, arguably one of the most beautiful women to ever grace a runway, appeared on "Oprah." It was painful to watch. Here's a woman who's been in the public eye for decades and known just as much for her violent run-ins with others as she is for her fabulous sense of style.

Still, after all these years of struggling with inner demons it was clear that the willowy supermodel still hasn't figured out how to deal with the pain that lies behind her graceful walk and sultry looks. Throughout the interview she seemed very confused about her own times acknowledging that she needs help and at other times denying the very feelings that would cause her behavior to spin out of control.

All of us who watched Campbell expose as much of her personal fabric to the Oprah audience as she could stand saw right through the threads she couldn't bare to pull back. She admits to have an issue with anger and abandonment but her problems clearly go beyond that. Unfortunately, there appeared to be a lack of urgency on her part to address it.

Naomi said she wore this to community service because
that's how she dresses...she didn't do it to make a point.
Okay...if you say so girl. 
But that won't stop us from admiring her every move and ensemble and expressing a degree of awe when she inevitably connects her cell phone or some other possession with the body of someone else who offends her sensibilities.

Speaking of beautiful women who lately willingly revealed flaws on television, Stacey Dash has been making the media rounds as of late as well. I suppose in preparation for a new television show that should be hitting the airwaves soon starring Stacey, Lauren London, and Lisa Raye.

Dash, a perennially young-looking stunner and mainstay of men and women's fantasies alike said something that I will never forget during an appearance last month on the Wendy Williams show. She said that she never thought she was beautiful unless a man told her so.

This woman who, at 40, turns heads of all ages, races, and sexes with her big smile and perfect skin.

This articulate and successful actress and mother with talent and beauty to spare.

The fact that she needs validation from anyone struck me with a sadness I'm not sure if I can explain.

To round out the bunch, Noemi Lenoir, model and one of the stars of the movie Rush Hour 3, attempted suicide last week. Rumors abound about why she took a potentially deadly combination of pills and alcohol to end her life. One rumor says that the suicide attempt was because of issues involving her current lover and another cites actions of her former lover and father of her children as the catalyst.

Whatever the cause, once again, a woman so put together on the outside has fallen apart on the inside. And that fall is taking place for the world to see.

Sure lots of celebrities (and regular people alike) struggle with self-esteem issues and substance abuse problems among other demons. Blogger Jo Nubian recently wrote about the pains many black women go through to hide feelings of sadness and depression. This phenomena doesn't start or end with glamourous celebrity women.

But there is something eye-opening about such beautiful women struggling with their looks, life, and love--especially in a society that emphasizes beauty and lifestyle as indicators of relative happiness and satisfaction.

In a moment of weakness, you almost wonder for a second, if they're not happy, who is?

I wonder if the beauty and accolades don't just hide their pain from the public for a time--but from them as well.

And if beauty is hiding hurt, it doesn't matter how much beauty you have--things will get ugly at some point.