COLUMN: A Woman's World
Comfortable with ugliness
The World of Dance is a high-energy, national urban dance contest. As a result of a recent WOD event, held in Pomona, Calif., last month, a spontaneous referendum on modern cultural ethos has broken out, due to the antics of some of its younger contestants.
Here's what happened: The proverbial YouTube video materialized -- which could have had a "viewer discretion" advisory on it -- showing a group of cute 8- and 9-year-old girls performing in the competition.
The little gals' routine, however, was anything but endearing. Arrayed in costumes that resembled suggestive lingerie, they gyrated to the Beyonce tune "Single Ladies."
The two minutes of racy showmanship were disturbing enough that mental health gurus, like Dr. Phil, were pronouncing it a pedophiliac fantasy.
Given how muscular and polished the performance is, it's obvious the small single ladies have spent many hours synchronizing their moves and effectively channeling Jay-Z's sexy wife.
So it was only natural, as it is in a country with a legal tradition of shielding its young from predators and which historically frowns upon age-inappropriate activities and dress codes for kiddies, when sensible folks muttered, as the video went viral, "Where are the moms and dads of these children?"
I'd add, "And who is the indiscreet choreographer?"
It turns out the parents of at least two of the girls -- Cory Miller and Melissa Presch -- were enthusiastically behind their daughters' "decision" to shake their petite behinds.
Miller and Presch, whose postures alternated between defensive and hip, appeared on Good Morning America, and coolly told us fuddy-duddies to buzz off. They explained that the risqu moves were "completely normal" for dancing that the video was "taken completely out of context" that they are "proud of their daughters and their accomplishments."
Really? This "accomplishment" was no spelling bee victory, folks. To be fair, it is jarring to be at the center of a national controversy and have strangers aggressively question your personal choices. But the lack of introspection, on the part of Miller and Presch, was also jarring.
Contrast their responses to the dance routine to that of Larry Kelley, who is a dad to a pair of active young daughters and once loudly complained on The O'Reilly Factor, when teenagers in his town's public high school wanted to perform The Vagina Monologues.
Kelley told me, "In this climate of constant bombardment, reiterating 'sex sells,' we should be especially vigilant about protecting our innocent children from growing up so exceedingly fast."
Most morally-engaged, common-sense mothers and fathers would not want their little girls sashaying, in skimpy ruffled outfits, in the spotlight, to music-impersonating drivel.
Besides, whatever happened to lasses rearranging doll house furniture, hosting tea parties, and reading Pippi Longstocking books or being inspired by Charlotte's Web? As for physical exercise, a capital choice is to enroll your daughter in a martial arts class, if she's game, and let her learn, early on, that her body, if need be, can be a potential weapon of self-defense instead of an object of lust.
The dance fiasco is not the first time kids mimicking socially-suspect adult behavior has created a rumpus. Nor will it be the last.
But it may well be a watershed moment. It has caused many of us to come to grips with how mainstream this practice of sexualizing minors in the name of art has become, and how too many parents, who should know better, are comfortable with an ugly trend.
Izzy Lyman is a freelance columnist and former Belgrade resident who contributes "A Woman's World" exclusively to the Belgrade News. Reach her at email@example.com.