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6. Be who you are       

  I am thrilled to be a part of the show Frankly Burlesque presents: Punching UP! Stories of Dissent.  I was relatively sure I knew what “punching up” meant, but I looked it up on line just to be certain.  The definition I like the best is from Geek Feminism Wiki and is as follows: “Punching up. is a term for deploying powerful techniques of criticism and rhetoric to critique and dismantle power structures, rather than to harm people disempowered relative to yourself. It (apparently) comes from comedy, in which the idea is to make fun of powerful people and institutions rather than disempowered people.” 

I knew this was definitely a show I wanted to support, but I wasn’t sure my place was to perform in it.  I am all for critiquing and dismantling the power structure, but I also get to reap the benefits all the privileges that that power structure offers me simply because of my gender and the color of my skin.  I am offended by the Fox news idea that white men are being discriminated against and need to defend their rights. That seems delusional to me.  “White privilege” is only extended to me as a way to divide people, not to actually include me in the power structure.  Maybe that’s just cynical of me to believe that the doors that are open for me that aren’t open for everyone have their limit.  There are rules that I need to follow for those doors to keep opening, specifically I want to talk about the rules of how to be a “man”.

The phrase “be a man about it” often means to stop complaining and do what needs to be done, something women are often much more skilled at accomplishing.  But that’s partly because a man’s complaints are taken so much more seriously than a woman’s.  Often what defines a man as assertive would define a woman as hysterical.  Conversely, what may be seen as compassionate and kind in a woman, is often seen as weak for a man.  I would argue that the most toxic element of the masculinity that is expected from our culture, is the difficulty in expressing yourself.  “Taking it like a man” often translates to hiding your emotions.  Those suppressed and hidden emotions always find a way to express themselves, usually in negative ways.

By choosing a dance form that has come to be thought of as purely feminine, I strive to expand the definition of what it is to be male, to include a much richer expression of our emotions.  I see more and more men seeing and expressing strength through sensitivity, kindness and other traditionally feminine traits.  I dance to celebrate a world that celebrates every individual’s unique blend of characteristics, regardless of how they fit into traditional expectations.

Come see the show!  Friday & Saturday November 2nd and 3rd at the Visual Arts Collective. Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/frankly-burlesque-presents-punching-up-stories-of-dissent-tickets-50884334414