Prince George was recently mocked by an American newsreader for taking ballet lessons and that has put the focus on how dancing is stereotyped as a feminine activity. Lara Spencer, who hosts Good Morning America was reporting of the six-year-old British royal’s school schedule and how he takes poetry and ballet lessons along with subjects like science, history etc. While closing her report, Spencer said, “Prince William said Prince George absolutely loves ballet … I have news for you, Prince William, we’ll see how long that lasts.” Following her snide remarks the hashtag #boysdancetoo began trending on Twitter, with many parents sharing videos and photographs of their young boys taking ballet lessons. Not just that, hundreds of male dancers gathered in New York City’s times Square and performed ballet to show solidarity with the young prince. The video has now gone viral.

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • An American news presenter is under fire for poking fun at Prince George for taking ballet lessons.
  • Hundreds poured into Times Square and many took to social media to normalise #Boysdancetoo.
  • Ballet is usually considered to be a feminine dance form.
  • But dance knows no gender, only our prejudices do. 

Following the news presenter’s snide remarks the hashtag #boysdancetoo began trending on Twitter, with many parents sharing videos and photographs of their young boys taking ballet lessons.

To say that boys don’t dance, wouldn’t be appropriate, but yes, there is a common notion that boys don’t dance in certain styles, ballet being one. Like Spencer, many people consider ballet to be a feminine dance form, suitable for girls and women. It has traits which we usually associate with femininity like poise, balance, flexibility. Ballet is synonymous with ballerinas ‘prancing around’ in baby pink tutus and ballet shoes. This limited understanding stereotypes not just genders, but an art form, keeping out many boys from embracing it because it is ‘girly’ stuff.

For long we have let our ideas of gender dictate our lives. They decided how we behave, what we become in life, what we wear, what sports we play and even our roles at home and in the world outside. Boys wear blue, girls wear pink. Boys go to work, girls stay at home and cook. Boys don’t cry, girls don’t fight. Boys don’t play with dolls, girls don’t play with toy trucks. The endless barriers and rigid moulds that we have created stifle creativity and dreams. Patriarchy knows it can only strive if we stick to these roles. When men and women remain divided by stereotypes, it is easier to pitch them as rivals and further bind them in stereotypical social and familial roles.

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As the Prince George incidence reveals, stereotyping isn’t just an Indian thing, and the west is struggling with it too. An adult woman celebrity thought it was funny to take a dig at a six year old for taking ballet classes. Which proves stereotyping is enforced on children by adults. No child comes out of the womb coded with an inclination for a specific colour, toys or dance forms as per their gender. It is we adults who laden it on them. We do it unintentionally, by buying a pink jumper for a newborn baby girl. We do it by force by reprimanding a boy for crying. We do it via shaming, by making fun of kids for liking things and activities which don’t align with their gender according to us.

An adult woman celebrity thought it was funny to take a dig at a six year old for taking ballet classes. Which proves stereotyping is enforced on children by adults.

This is why it is our responsibility to now, to encourage boys and girls to break these stereotypes. Tell a girl that it is okay to play with a toy truck. Tell a boy it is okay to cry. And like those championing #boysdancetoo to show solidarity with Prince George and other boys like him who love ballet classes, let’s cheer our boys when they show off their ballet moves. Boys do dance young prince. Look at all the magnificent people who have come out to support and cheer for you. Look at them and never stop dancing.

Photo Credit:  Krys Alex on Unsplash

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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