The two partners in tango play different roles in correspondence with their respective gender. Gender roles are violated, for example, when the woman refuses to surrender, when she neglects her duty to make the man feel comfortable, when she resists him with disobedience, when she interferes with his lead or initiate her own steps, when the man fails to protect the woman, when he coerces her with force, when he does not listen to the music, when he shines himself instead of her, etc. Unfortunately, such things frequently happen in our milongas.
As fashionable as it is to transform gender roles in the US, this fact remains unchanged: no one can be at his/her best against nature. Frankly, a woman is too soft and light to be a leader. She simply cannot be as strong and reliable as the leader must be, and function as a man must function to a woman, regardless of how technically knowledgeable she is on leading. Likewise, a man is too heavy and robust to be a follower. He simply cannot be as flexible and light as the follower must be, and function as a woman must function to a man, regardless of how technically knowledgeable he is on following. Tango is not just lead and follow. It is the interaction between the opposite sexes. Without masculinity and femininity, tango loses its beauty, charm and attraction.
Men in general are physically taller, stronger, heavier, and more dependable than women. They also have a psyche different from that of women due to men's hunting nature formed in the millions of years of human evolution through natural selection, such as their need for taking initiatives, subduing, conquering, keeping under control, and protecting their loved ones, etc. Naturally, men assume the masculine role in tango as they do in life. The following are the functions of men's role in tango:
2. Plotting the dance. In tango, the man dances around the floor and the woman dances around the man. (See Dancing around the Man.) The woman may beautify the dance with her flexible body and colorful footwork, but she cannot plot the dance and change the choreography. That responsibility lies in the man, who must make the dance interesting, diversified and well-arranged, so that it may bring the woman's feminine beauty into full play.