i totally agree with you Swi; a lot of the supposed "misogyny" going around the bhangra circuit is less extreme than it's being portrayed. like you said, i think it boils down to an older aesthetic preference, and the holding of similarly "traditional" views on gender roles. neither of these are particularly extreme and, for the most part, don't really come from chauvinism.Swi said:
I'll post a more substantial comment tomorrow but just a quick perspective for people (I've only been in california for 6 months only been to bruin, bulldog and dda in the past year, so I don't have the whole picture of the scene here but I have had some conversations with the judges):
I spoke to one of these 'ignorant' judges recently and they're point was: 'To me girls doing bhangra is vulgar and obscene in the way that it would be if they got on stage in bikini and shook their behinds for 8 minutes.'
I know the immediate reaction is to scoff and dismiss the ridiculous analogy and representative ideology, but DON'T do that, at least not as a knee-jerk reaction. These older people have a viewpoint and it's important to at least attempt to understand why. At the very least so we can learn how to better filter them out.
What I got out of this conversation (And similar ones with other aunties and uncles) is that they[these old-school people] don't see girls doing Bhangra as 'wrong' in the moral sense, but 'wrong' in an aesthetic notion. To them, Bhangra is a fundamentally masculine dance (with giddha as the counterpart I suppose), and to see girls doing it is uncomfortable to them and aesthetically unappealing. Yes, it may come from an increasingly archaic gender framework, but leaving it there doesn't solve the problem or bridge the gap.
I once tried to explain to a non-desi person why we didn't have our girls thigh slap (which we did to avoid losing points with some judges). But it's pretty hard to explain the notion of a purely masculine move. By and large those barriers have been brought down in American culture. The closest thing I could think of would be maybe grabbing your balls? Think about girls grabbing their imaginary balls as a dance step, and imagine your parents watching a show with girls grabbing their imaginary balls. That's how this older generation sometimes sees girls+bhangra. It's crazy yes, but I don't think any of us would complain if that was what was on stage (the flaw in this analogy of course is that guys are not on stage grabbing their balls, but again I can't think of anything truly equivalent)
My rambling point is that yes, the judges absolutely need to change. And yes, girls are getting shafted, especially here in California. But I think we hype it up in the wrong way. To me, it's not about equality of girls and guys, at least not directly. It's more about gender notions with the older generation, a fundamental gap in the aesthetic appeal of girls performing the dance. That's not something that can be rationalized or argued with, but I also don't think it's something to dismiss as ignorance. How is a subjective assessment of a dances appeal considered ignorance? It's a preference that is out of touch and has no place in today's circuit. There are very many of you that would laugh and deride a guy if he put on a dress and played the role of a girl in a traditional ballroom dance style....I think that's somewhat similar situation, and a decent analogy.
We need to replace those judges with ones who better reflect the diversity of NA bhangra, but we should also respect and understand why the generation before us has the issues. The judges I met (again, a small spectrum) were definitely not qualified to judge in today's circuit, but they also weren't malevolent, sexist pigs that wanted girls in the kitchen (There are those evil judges sure, but even the female judges I met expressed the aforementioned lack of comfort with the girls' style of dancing these days).
I have a feeling I'm gonna get misunderstood and just torn up here cause it's a sensitive topic, but I thought I'd share the perspective I saw. I'm not saying there isn't an issue, or that there is clear sexist bias. I'm just trying to say that it's not always ignorance, and to share some of these judges' viewpoint. Since I'm not a girl, I probably don't see the rudeness, condescension, and patronization that the girls see. But I also wonder if the judges are just awful at explaining their viewpoint. Definitely took me 30 minutes of conversation to understand what they were saying.
hahha i think that's a topic for a different day; i'd guess that it stems more from objectification of women than antiquated ideologies.HarmanSingh said:There is more misogyny from male teams towards female teams than from judges towards teams. We have all seen the way guys teams behave at competitions, but it is a generally ignored topic.
KDave said:As a girl who does live bhangra and started out competing with AMPD (all girls live team), we have always faced judges at every comp in California who has some sexist point of view. And when one of the judges told us at Nachda Punjab 2010 that girls should not be doing live bhangra or bhangra at all, it struck us hard. However, that night changed our team in a good way. We became much more confident and motivated to strive and improve from our mistakes. We dont compare ourselves to other male live teams- yes, we do have to see what they have to offer, but in the end live bhangra is a general thing.
It is a positive activity which people love to do. If males have passion for it then y should they care if woman perform it? If male judges love live bhangra and the tradition behind it then they should not care who performs it, but who comes out the best either all male, co-ed , or all girls team. Now, when we hear a judge briefly talk about us girls doing live we ignore it. It is old news for us.
It sucks because committee members choose female judges as well which seems fair, but honestly the male judges take over. We talked to a woman judge from a past recent comp in California, and when we went to the hotel we saw her. We came up to her and talked to her about the competition and how she liked it. She was very depressed and she said that she does not want to judge anymore because of the politics behind judging with male judges. She said that her idea of placings were very different and she felt as if the male judges took over her judgement.
We do live bhangra to show the world that girls doing live bhangra is accepted and should be in everyones eyes. We do it because we love traditional bhangra and the meaning behind it. We dont go to comps for placings at all... if we place then we know we deserved it and if we did not place then we know we need to work harder.
We always hear that some moves we do, like dhmaal or jugni, should not be performed by us, however, we believe that if we want to do live bhangra we either do it all or not. We cant take out segments just because some people think it looks wrong for us to do. That is not traditional bhangra. There are certain things that have to be done in a live set. If we can perform the moves with our style and if it is on point then why should it matter if we perform it?
When we went to Canada for RPVD 2 weekends ago, it was a very different environment. The people respect girls doing bhangra to the top. We were so surprised and happy with the amount of support we received there. After the show, the judges came up to us. They were honest and told us our mistakes to help us improve, but at the same time they told us that we r on the right track and deserved the 2nd placing that we received. I wish California male judges had the same mind set as Canadian judges, but that is just something we will have to work with and have been.
It will take alot to change some of the sexist, male judges opinions, but it will happen with everyones support and hopefully there will be more girls live teams!
Of course there are ppl who disagree with girls doing live and we respect that, but when it comes to competitions male judges should be open- minded and they should realize that this is a different time where woman have power in the circuit.