ABDC and gender politics

So we’ve been working our way through America’s Best Dance Crew, which I as I have said before is the gayest show ever. And yet, the judges are guilty of some of the most ignorant, rigidly gendered comments I’ve ever heard.

Many people have called Lil Mama out on her transphobic comments toward Leomie, the frontwoman for the Season 4 crew Vogue Evolution. Basically, she told Leomie she was really a man and if she wanted to be a woman she should “act like a lady.” This was in response to Leomie becoming emotional and a bit of a pill at a recent rehearsal. Her remarks were oozing sexism on all sides, and her “apology” made it clear she just doesn’t get it and why what she said was so offensive.

In Season 2, judge Shane Sparks, told the effeminate men of the fabulous crew Fanny Pak that he wanted to see them “dance like men.” The third judge JC Chasez is much less explicit in his sexism, but certainly when it came to Vogue Evolution he made a few veiled comments which indicated his discomfort.

The thing is, this is a dance show. There are so many dancers on ABDC that are so obviously not straight it’s ridiculous. Yet Vogue Evolution is hailed as being “the first openly gay” crew, two seasons after Fanny Pak, and other only slightly less obviously gay crews.

So what gives? You’d think in this environment – and I am quite sure JC, Shane, and Lil Mama have all worked with openly queer dancers before – there would be less discomfort. And as we can expect, a certain amount of lesbionic content in some of the dance routines (both We Are Heroes and Fanny Pak have incorporated girl-on-girl kissing) is tolerated, but host Mario Lopez looked rather uncomfortable with the poster of himself Fanny Pak hung in the locker they incorporated into their “Bring the Beat” routine.

What is so threatening about an effeminate man? I love that ABDC crews show over and over again that you can be no less athletic and talented regardless of where you fall on the gender spectrum. We Are Heroes rocks because they are not stereotypically feminine, so many of the men have shown that you can be effeminate and still strong. I wish the judges — and America as well– could break this association of feminine=weak and masculine=strong.

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~ by realsupergirl on September 21, 2009.

One Response to “ABDC and gender politics”

  1. people can be crazy about this gender binary stuff, man. one of my friends is a transwoman who doesn’t like skirts, makeup, or pink— man, even the “liberal” people are rude to her.

    who gets to decide just how one “acts like a lady”, anyway? jerks, that’s who. dude. anyway, great post!

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