Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating culture, idea, lifestyle, and philosophy. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, beauty, harmony and humanity, 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 species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. We are humanists. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation and compromise. If you share this conviction, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.
Together we can awaken the world.
May 3, 2013
Femininity and Feminism in Tango (II)
When a man and a woman tango together, something magic happens: feelings, attraction, fantasy, synergy and romanticism. The gratification of tango comes from the fact that it is an intimate dance between a man and a woman. The man leads the woman and brings her femininity into full play. The woman surrenders to the man and uses her femininity to attract and reward him. They complement each other, satisfy each other’s needs, and enable each shine more brilliantly in the other’s company.
Some people believe that with practice anyone could play either role equally well in tango (see Comment), which I doubt. Men are not good at playing the feminine role not because they are not given the chance to practice, but because they are born masculine. A man does not have a woman’s physique, softness, lightness and flexibility. He also does not have the female psychology evolved due to women’s reproductive nature, their need for beauty (to attract male), affection, protection and security. These traits impact how women dance. On the other hand, women do not have men’s build and strength. They do not have the male psychology evolved due to men’s hunting nature, their need for taking initiatives, keeping under control, and protecting women. If men and women were naturally good at the reversed roles, tango would have been danced differently.
Not too 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 the female goose. Can the male hatch and the female guard? I suppose they could. But that would not be natural and as fit. Masculinity and femininity are characteristics of the opposite sexes essential to the well being of the species. The male is typically strong, assertive, aggressive and protective, 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 opposite 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, pre-polluted babies, and disintegration of family. 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 what is good with what is evil and what is beautiful with what is ugly. Selfishness is ugly, but is being justified as the pursuit of happiness. Disrespect of others is ugly, but is being warranted as individual freedom. 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, label 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 men do not lead but only invite women to do steps (see How Tango Is Led), that women do not surrender but remain independent, that women may choose how, when and whether to accept the invitation, initiate their own steps and lead men or other women, that the two partners maintain a distance from each other to prevent sexual advancement, and that tango embrace is being replaced with open hand holds to allow more individuality, 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 submission and cooperation rather than confrontation and power struggle, and that love triumphs over hostility. While individualism and feminism focus on our individuality and independence, tango focuses on the partnership and oneness of the two. 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 the dance. (See The World Needs a different Philosophy.)