Consider terms such as degrading and offensive. We at Finding Fault think these words describe subjective feelings and opinions, and should be acknowledged to do so.

But many authors will not take the responsibility of owning their own opinions. Instead, they want somebody else to take the responsibility. We have seen this problem often, and we will point out one recent instance.

A blogger, purportedly writing about “the genre known as ballroom dance”, but really writing about a Broadway show, complains:1

As a result it isn’t easy to say, “This degrades women.” Yet much of it does.

And again:

It does degrade women.

We at Finding Fault are not in the business of deciding what degrades somebody else. (If we find something that degrades us, we will let you know.) We are, however, in the business of finding fault, so we want to point out here that the Writer in question appears to be a guy, so let’s begin by assuming that the show does not degrade him.

Who, then, does it degrade? We would have liked to have seen him mention some interviews with women who felt degraded by that show. Before you claim that something is degrading to somebody, you need to find at least one person who actually feels degraded by it. And by one we do not mean zero. Was he unable to get in touch with any of the performers—who presumably would have been close to the action and subject to its full effect—to ask how degraded they felt? Was he not able to query a few random female attendees to get their opinions?

Could it be that, rather than ask women if they find the show degrading, he is doing their thinking for them and telling them that they ought to find it so?

We also want to know why, if he wanted to see or experience “the genre known as ballroom dance,” he went to see a Broadway show in the first place. Ballroom dance is, fundamentally, about leading and following.2 We think stage shows like the one in question are fully choreographed many weeks ahead of time, and not led and followed. We doubt that there is any significant leading and following in the “the acrobatic manhandling” the Writer complains about or in the manoeuvre of the (allegedly degraded) woman “lifted with her legs in a 180-degree sideways split” that makes him so miserable. All this choreographed showmanship cannot possibly represent ballroom dance in any meaningful way to anybody who has the slightest idea of what “ballroom dancing” really means.

No dance studios or ballrooms nearby?

  1. Article “Ballroom: More Sexily, Less Strictly” by Alastair Macaulay in online periodical “The New York Times” visited 2009-08-23.
  2. “There being no set sequence of steps in modern dancing the responsibility of leading from one figure to another rests entirely with the man. The lady’s part is to follow, whether the man is dancing a figure correctly or not.” (Emphasis in original.)  “Ballroom Dancing” p 21; by Alex Moore, 1939, revised 2008. We found this book in Google Books at visited 2009-08-23.