8

Drag Queens, belly dancers and why it gets on my tits…

The last time I forgot, a white woman came out in Arab drag — because that’s what that is, when a person who’s not Arab wears genie pants and a bra and heavy eye makeup and Arabic jewelry, or jewelry that is meant to read as “Arabic” because it’s metallic and shiny and has squiggles of some kind — and began to belly-dance. – Article

I have to admit, this quote made me giggle snort a bit. Arab drag is so true in so many cases. You don’t need the heavy make up and the bikini to belly dance. You just dance. In jeans. In skirts. In shirts. In whatever you’re in. Friends have often asked me to belly dance for them and I do. In my own clothes. They have requested I get a proper belly dance outfit and put on a wee show for them and I die a bit inside because I may be an exhibitionist.. yet my inner shy child dies at the thought of all my bits jiggling in people’s faces!
belly-dancer

You know those restaurants that have belly dancers? The ones that get up and sometimes actually nail the concept of belly dancing? Well most of those places make me cringe and want to run away. If only because the “dancer” isn’t really doing the dancing any favours. Where they having an off night? Maybe. But honestly, it’s not that hard to get up and shake your hips to music you like. Hell I can’t even keep my hips still when I’m cleaning and listening to some of my favourite Turkish songs.

In the Turkish culture, as with Arab and other middle eastern cultures, belly dancing isn’t really the same … what’s that word I’m looking for… Let’s just say that we have many things where there’s just women attending and the way we dance, without men around, is a lot different to the way we dance at say, a wedding.

So when I came across this article about why this lady can’t stand white belly dancers I had to agree with her.

The term “belly dance” itself is a Western one. In Arabic, this kind of dance is called Raqs Sharqi, or Eastern dance. Belly dance, as it is known and practised in the West, has its roots in, and a long history of, white appropriation of Eastern dance. As early as the 1890s in the U.S., white “side-show sheikhs” managed dance troupes of white women, who performed belly dance at world’s fairs (fun trivia: Mark Twain made a short film of a belly dancer at the 1893 fair). Many white women who presently practice belly dance are continuing this century-old tradition of appropriation, whether they are willing to view their practice this way or not.

Which then had me thinking a few things and about why I may be cringing at belly dancers in restaurants. I think there was one time, just one single time when I was wowed by a belly dancer.

And it was a man.

He was dancing at the Turkish restaurant that my mother loves to go to in the city. At the time the music started up and I went to excuse myself so I could go outside and play on my phone for a bit. But instead before I could jump out of my chair and high tail it out of there, I noticed that the person walking out of the back room wasn’t a woman. It was a man. He was middle eastern, easily. He had the right features, the thick full black hair and a piercing gaze. And a body to match his confidence.

Being that there aren’t many male belly dancers anywhere, I sat my arse back down in my chair and fixed my gaze on this specimen of a man while my mother giggled like a school girl next to me about how ripped his abs were and that I should ask him for his number. Never mind the guy came out in sparkly “hammer pants” and nothing else. Although I can’t be sure if he had glitter on his nipples or not… I wasn’t about to go up and rub them to find out if I got glitter herpes.

By the time the music had started, my mother and I had already had an argument about this guy becoming her future son-in-law. I was pretty sure this guy was gay, but she had other ideas.

The music started and he started dancing and both of us shut up. The man could move! His hips! He danced with a ceremonial sword on his chest and as his butt wiggled and the sword didn’t move I knew he was totally gay. No straight man can move that way. They just can’t, bless em.

Suffice to say he had the entire restaurant captivated with his dancing so much so that the second woman dancer to come out everyone ignored because she just wasn’t as engaging.

Now my other pet hate is when they grab you as you’re trying to get past to make you dance with them. Seriously chick, you don’t want me to dance with you. I’ve done this since I was in vitro, you’ve done it for a few years. But yet they make you. So you dance and they look surprised that your hips move and your boobs jiggle and you can dance, but you dance differently to them. For us it’s a celebration, it’s not a show we put on for an audience. So when I am cornered into dancing in a restaurant with the belly dancer, I leave her dancing in the middle of the room and wander off to dance at my family and friends sitting at the table who cheer me on and some get up and dance with me.

I dance because I want to share my joy with family and friends. We dance because we enjoy the music. We dance because we are celebrating someone getting married, engaged, a birthday… you name it and we usually dance at it. Hell, if they are anything like me then they even dance while cleaning and cooking to the point where I put down said cleaning or cooking implements and take 5 minutes to really dance my arse off to some wonderful davul and zurna music (translation: cylindrical drums and wind instrument).

This is what our dancing is about.

But, here’s the thing. Arab women are not vessels for white women to pour themselves and lose themselves in; we are not bangles or eyeliner or tiny bells on hips. We are human beings. This dance form is originally ours, and does not exist so that white women can have a better sense of community; can gain a deeper sense of sisterhood with each other; can reclaim their bodies; can celebrate their sexualities; can perform for the female gaze. Just because a white woman doesn’t profit from her performance doesn’t mean she’s not appropriating a culture. And, ultimately, the question is this: Why does a white woman’s sisterhood, her self-reclamation, her celebration, have to happen on Arab women’s backs?

For me this isn’t about an us and them thing, it’s not about white women riding the appropriation coat tails and it getting on my nerves. It’s about the irk I get being subject to bad belly dancers, it’s the irk I get because they try to be something they aren’t. It’s the irk I get because they are making something that brings us such joy and laughter and connection into something that’s just a cheap trick to be paid for in restaurants. Yet I can sit and appreciate the art of belly dancing in competitions and if someone has a certain something that makes me take notice. Are all white belly dancers crap? No, not really, but you do get the sense that they aren’t engaged with the music, they aren’t feeling it from the inside out. And I think that’s what makes an awesome belly dancer dance.

So to see the difference in what I think is relevant belly dancing as opposed to what you get when you go somewhere to eat… Here’s a few clips I found that made me get up and shake my booty.

22

Sexism in wanting a child free womb

I read an article today about a woman, aged 30, who sidestepped her doctors and went directly to a gynecologist who did the procedure for her, the procedure being sterilisation.

I wish I’d thought of that.

But her story so closely resembled my own. Her fury was my fury. I felt it all and I knew where she was at.

Since I was age 19 I knew something was messed up with my insides. I rode my doctors ass about it until at age 24 they finally decided to do an internal ultrasound which showed in that instead of small ovaries mine were about 10 times the size due to cysts. Finally, they tell me I have PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome).

Hormones man, apparently it’s all in the hormones.However in the meantime they put me on the pill and told me I’d never have children. The more I took the pill the heavier I got, the more doctors told me that it was PCOS causing my rapid weight gain and subsequent issues. When I was told that children were not an option because of the disease I thought all my dreams had come at once because I’d been pestering my doctors every year since I was 19 to have my uterus removed. It caused me pain, there was no reason for me to keep it. Plus, I didn’t want children.

I threw the pill away gleefully. I started to drop the excess weight without even trying. I got back to closer to what I used to weight and I didn’t give up on asking for my sterilisation.

I was consistently and routinely told no. Every. Single. Year. Apparently I wasn’t allowed to make this decision for myself until I was about age 35. At which point if I still wanted to rip my insides out then I may state my case and they may agree to it.

Apart from the rage I felt at being turned away, year in year out, I felt rage that men on the other hand could go get a vasectomy without being told they weren’t allowed to incase they ever changed their minds.

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30

No, I am not your object.

This post is brought to you my ranty mcrant pants. And the fact that men would rather treat me as a piece of meat than having a normal conversation.

More and more I’m starting to get annoyed with OKC.

It’s pretty easy to tell you why too. Because the men that message me seem to think that they are doing me a huge favour by telling me how awesome my tits are.

Or how beautiful my smile, if only it was giving them a blow job.

What the ever-loving fuck people?

Is this just me?

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10

Sexual objectification in the weird way…

As you all are aware, I wrote a note about why I loved sexual objectification in my personal life and why it made me so hot.

Well, last week I saw this picture in the newspapers:

And to be honest, it made me a wee bit uncomfortable. I mean, sure, he has nice boobs. A bit of fur is never frowned up. But the context… Being on stage, accepting an award and having the hostess rip your shirt off mid-speech. Now if that was a woman she’d be justified in turning around and bitch slapping that silly bint to pluto. I know I would have.

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19

Pubicitis? The pubic hair debate.

I’m not sure y’all are aware, I had a moment late last year that I decided to let my hairs grow.

Well while perusing the paper today at lunchtime I came across an article that made me giggle. No seriously, it did.

Here’s why:

I love love love that these mannequins have nipples and pubic hair showing in the underwear. I find it exhilarating that American Apparel love to push societal boundaries so. I really do. It makes my heart sing.

Lately I’ve been re-growing my pit hair too. It’s not at this stage yet…

But then I figure what if it does get to that stage? Then who cares?

Well no, I still do care. I’m more comfortable than I was about it last year. In so much as my friends and family are now used to seeing some fuzz under my arms and not tell me to go shave. Well, that’s more family telling me to go shave that is, my friends just don’t give a flying toss about what’s growing where. Unless it’s some weird growth on my face or something…

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28

Singdom doth not equate to the end of life as we know it

But I like the way Baldwin frames being alone as a choice, one that calls to us not because we so love isolation and hate feelings, but because our relationship status is just one of many things we have to juggle. She’s not saying a partner wouldn’t be nice (or threatening to plunge cutlery into her eye)—although certainly some women, like some men, revel in total amatory freedom. But singlenesscan be voluntary, can be fulfilling, can be the best choice on the table at the moment, even if it’s not always a fountain of bliss. – Article from Daily Life

Singledom. The defect of relationship statuses for women it seems. Men could be bachelors for the rest of their lives and not get hit with any stigma in regards to their relationship status.

I know it’s the case for me. Especially coming from a European family. I’m 35. Don’t have children by choice, don’t have a partner by choice and quite content living in shared housing in an inner city boho chic suburb with a cat.

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7

To hair or not to hair…

Ahh the undeniably hot topic of female body hair.

It’s a huge thing, in some places. Not so much in others.

In Sydney, for example, there is a certain “dirty” outlook to females who tout body hair. Why? I don’t know. I’m not averse to lusting after some women with body hair myself. It doesn’t make them less attractive or dirtier. However I also know that I have friends who would totally be grossed out by this concept of female body hair. If they see a hair, it gets plucked, waxed or shaven off.

What’s prompted this post? Well you see over on Date Peeves there was a post about double standards. Particularly concerning the lovely topic of hair. On men mostly. And after a brief survey of quite a few of my female friends the general consensus was that they all like a bit of fur, trimmed preferably. There were some outliers who wanted the au naturale and another who loved fully shaved. But those were a given.

I wasn’t going to write about this topic – but perusing the paper this morning I came across this article and thought that the hair gods were throwing hair in my face so that I can write about it.

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