When I was young, we used to avail ourselves of my grandmother’s basement to gather together for some sanctioned socializing with the opposite sex. This being the early ’70s, we were a part of the first generation of Americans who did not know how to dance — as defined by the Arthur Murray tradition where there are actual steps to be learned — and the music we hopped around to was certainly not conducive to doing so anyway.
But every so often, at the hands of our female friends, a slow song would make its way to the turntable and we would engage in what my aunt referred to as the “Y Dance.” The girl would place her hands around the neck or shoulders of the boy who, with painful consequences for the tall ones, would reach down and hold the girl by the waist as they shuffled aimlessly around in circles. Noting their posture and proximity, my Aunt Cele asked, “Why even bother to dance? Just go into the corner and neck!”
I recount this semisweet memory because the issue of teen “dancing” is, shall we say, heating up. Some school official and parents have objected to the charming practice of what is called “grinding,” which the Associated Press cheerfully describes as, “a style of dancing where the girl leans forward and the boy puts his pelvis against her backside and thrusts.” In my day we had a few outlaw cases of grinding, only they were done front to front and most often led to a slap in the face, or in my case, a knee to the offending area.
Modern day grinding is a lot worse to look at than read about. But one need not take a ride down to your local high school gym to observe this vulgar phenomenon. Just try, as I do, to simply watch a Sunday afternoon ballgame and you will be regaled with all manner of bumping, grinding and sexually explicit behavior. It has become as synonymous with sports broadcasts as beer; just recall the 2004 Super Bowl.
What shocked me about the “outrage” over the Janet Jackson incident is that no one seemed bothered by what preceded the infamous wardrobe malfunction. Had Ms. Jackson’s “dance partner'” performed his act in an office setting, he would most likely have faced sexual harassment charges and possibly arrest. Yes, I know Ms. Jackson was a willing participant, and that is the problem.
America’s continued immersion into hip-hop culture — in which the degrading treatment of women is a dominant theme — together with the hideous heavy metal music endurable only by pimply 13 year-olds that accompanies many sporting events are disturbing trends. If these immoral and soul-killing music genres are celebrated by leaders and mainstream advertisers, how can our children not be influenced?
Back in the day, as they say, parents saw the coming of the sexual revolution — a conflict which has left many victims in its wake — but their attempts at stemming the tide of the “if it feels good, do it” brigade were met with sneers of derision and war chants of, “never trust anyone over 30.” Those who foresaw the consequences of letting the sexual genie out of the bottle were dismissed as religious fanatics; a practice that continues today.
But, as with most sins, the one begets many others. Sexual promiscuity has led to the ever-increasing spread of the promotion of women as sex objects, child rape, pornography, sexually-transmitted disease and abortion as birth control. Add to the mix that homosexuality, once the bane of every civilized nation, is now accepted as a norm, and you have a society in which the weakest among us are constantly at risk and one whose culture is severely wounded.
There is much hand-wringing over the way women are treated in other countries. In fact, the only way to get certain segments of Americans concerned with the spread of Islam is to point to its degrading view of women’s rights. But how are our mothers, daughters, sisters and wives perceived in a culture that appears to couch their value in mainly sexual ways? Or our children as disposable “accidents” of casual sexual dalliances and worse, as objects of lust?
The disconnect in our society is that we can stem the tide of sex crimes without examining the role of sex in our culture. The notion that the age old construct that sex in of itself, without the tempering hand of traditional marriage is harmful, is rejected out of hand by those who benefit financially and even politically by its promotion as some kind of liberating act.
So will the graphic simulation of anal sex on the dance floor continue to be performed on our daughters? Only until we find a way to get the genie back into the bottle.