Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a team, community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
May 3, 2013
Femininity and Feminism in Tango (II)
When the opposite sexes tango together, something mysterious happens: attraction, feelings, connection, romanticism, synergy, etc. The gratification of tango comes from the fact that it is danced by a man and a woman. The man leads the woman with his torso to bring her feminine beauty into full play. The woman surrenders to him and uses her femininity to allure, comfort and reward him. The two opposite sexes support and complement each other, make each shine brighter in the other’s company.
Some people argue that with practice anyone can play either role equally well (see Comment), which I doubt. Men are not good at playing the feminine role not because they are not given the chance, but because they are born masculine. A man does not have a woman's soft, light and flexible body. Nor does he have her psyche evolved because of women's reproductive nature, their need for beauty (to attract male), affection and security. These traits impact how women dance. On the other hand, women do not have the build and strength of men. They do not have the male psyche evolved because of men's hunting nature, their need for taking initiatives, keeping under control and protecting their loved ones. If men and women were naturally good at the opposite roles, tango would have been danced differently.
Not far from my house, a female goose is hatching under a tree, and a male goose is guarding nearby, preventing the female from being disturbed. I have to make a detour when I pass that tree because the male goose does not allow me get close. He is very protective of his partner. Can the male hatch and the female guard? I suppose they could. But that would not be as natural and fit. Masculinity and femininity are characteristics of the opposite sexes essential to the well being of the species. The male is typically strong, assertive, protective and aggressive, a good father and protector, if you wish. The female is typically soft, attractive, submissive and affectionate, a good mother and caregiver, if you wish. These characteristics enable the two sexes to attract each other and form a sustainable relationship for the benefit of the offspring. People often do not appreciate the way nature works and want to alter it. But, what is of nature comes from millions of years of evolution and is, as a result, the best, fittest and most effective way. Messing with nature often leads to disastrous consequences, such as man-made climate changes, environmental catastrophes, mysterious diseases, sterility, babies with birth defects, the derangement of natural orders between the opposite sexes, the decline of family, and the decay of the family-centered value system, etc. (See Tango and the Relationship of the Opposite Sexes.) Those who think they are smarter than God are harming us all with their ignorant interference with nature.
Good human values are based on what is beneficial to the humanity rather than an individual person or gender. The problem of individualism and feminism is that their perspectives are narrowed down to a single person or gender. Consequently, they confuse the good with the evil and the beautiful with the ugly. Greed is ugly, but is being justified as the pursuit of happiness. Selfishness is ugly, but is being beautified as asserting one's rights. Arrogance is ugly, but is being prettified as self-confidence. Masculinity is admirable, but is being vilified as sexism. Femininity is beautiful, but is being denigrated as female weakness, etc. Such ideologies challenge the traditional way tango is danced, labeling it as male domination and gender inequality. (See Tango and Gender Equality.) They want tango to be danced in such a way that men and women are undifferentiated, that the man does not lead but only offers suggestions (See Three Theories on Leading.), that the woman does not surrender but remains independent, that the woman may choose how, when and whether to accept the suggestion, initiate her own steps and lead the man or another woman, that the two partners maintain a distance from each other to prevent sexual advancement, and that tango embrace is being replaced with an open dance hold to allow more individuality and independence, etc. As a result, tango is transformed to something that is no longer tango.
Tango is based on the ideas that men and women are interdependent rather than independent, that masculinity and femininity complement rather than un-equalize the opposite sexes, that being a masculine male and a feminine female is attractive, beneficial and desirable, that the harmony of the two genders is arrived at through mutual respect, submission, accommodation and cooperation rather than resentment, animosity, confrontation and power struggle, and that love triumphs over hostility. While individualism and feminism focus on the individuality and independence of the individual person or gender, tango focuses on the oneness and harmony of their union. It asks us to be friendly, submissive, humble, adaptive, cooperative, agreeable and yielding. Tango proves that the two sexes can form a harmonious relationship by conforming to these values. Despite the challenges that tango faces in the West, it continues to exert positive influences on our societies, I believe, because unless we adopt its values, we are unable to fully enjoy tango and the relationship with the opposite gender. (See The World Needs a Different Philosophy.)