‘Whether you are gay or straight, I don’t like to see effeminate dancing’: effeminophobia in performance-level ballroom dance

Richardson, Niall (2016) ‘Whether you are gay or straight, I don’t like to see effeminate dancing’: effeminophobia in performance-level ballroom dance. Journal of Gender Studies. ISSN 0958-9236

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Abstract

This article discusses recent responses to performances of same-sex male ballroom dancing in order to consider the subtle difference which can exist between homophobia and effeminophobia. Given that the world of performance-level ballroom dancing is a gay-friendly environment, in which many participants are openly gay identified, this article will argue that a discourse of effeminophobia, rather than homophobia, underpins the world of performance-level ballroom dance. Performance-level ballroom dance is often read as camp not only because it represents exaggerated gender roles but because its official technique requires that the male dancer synthesise codes of masculinity and femininity in his dancing. What protects the gender-dissident male ballroom dancer from being read as effeminate is that he is paired with a female body performing excessive femininity. Without the foil of the hyper-feminine female partner, the same-sex couple draws attention to the fact that the male ballroom dancer is not dancing as a man but in accordance with ballroom’s queer construction of masculinity. Given that performance-level dance has struggled for so many years to be viewed as masculine sport, practitioners may, quite understandably, be anxious about any representation which suggests that ballroom dance may be an effeminate activity.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P0087 Communication. Mass media
Depositing User: Niall Richardson
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2016 10:03
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 05:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/61904

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