|Stereotypes: They exist for a reason. |
(Top tip, ladies. A costume always comes with a skirt or harem pants.)
(Pic from: littlemissfhenny.blogspot.com)
While there are a handful of people at the office who know where I dash off to on Tuesday nights (that large bag stuffed with hip scarves, water bottles and a change of clothes is kind of tricky to smuggle in), I have avoided telling my (female) boss.
Until now. Unfortunately she spotted me reading Razia’s newsletter (http://raziadance.com/) the other night. “Um, excuse me?” she said. It took a moment for me to work out what she was looking at, but when I did I assumed she thought I’d been spammed. In retrospect, I guess I was just relieved that it was after hours because, as though having an out-of-body experience, I found myself blurting out ‘in my spare time I’m training as a belly dance teacher.’ No kidding – I could feel the tips of my ears burning. Why oh why, after nearly three years of keeping my trap shut, did I voluntarily give that information up?
It’s still a mystery to me as to why I was suddenly so chatty, but her reaction was about what I expected (and had feared). “Well don’t tell the boys that, they’ll get very excited.” There was then some comment about ‘the technically difficult’ moves she imagined were involved and that was that. Lest this makes you think that I must be some kind of Joan Holloway type strutting about the office, let me assure you that I do not have the kind of face (or body) that would launch a thousand ships. At a push I might be able to launch an inflatable kayak if the water was calm enough, but that’s about it.
Although telling my boss was no biggie in the grand scheme of things, it felt like an opportunity was missed. I wanted to tell her that, far from being ‘very excited’, if the ‘boys’ in the office ever got to see me dance they might in fact be bored, or underwhelmed, or impressed, or embarrassed – a whole range of responses might reasonably be imagined. What rattles my dangles most is that the clear meaning of her comment is that my male workmates would be ‘aroused’ in an icky, Berlusconi-esque way.
When I mentioned this conversation to The Man, he infuriatingly agreed with this assessment of my failure to act. ‘If you’re going to teach this stuff you’re going to need to step up and represent – you’re supposed to change groundlessly negative opinions and challenge assumptions. That’s what teachers do!’
He’s right, of course. And here was I thinking that my teaching function was going to begin and end at the studio door. Nuts.