Reactions to The Female Lead’s Manifesto

My immediate reaction to the ‘The Female Lead’s Manifesto’ is about as mixed up as my reaction to feminism as a whole. *

I spent two years studying and struggling with feminist philosophies as part of my masters degree. The details are now largely forgotten but I read some brilliant social science research written by women looking at how knowledge is constructed, some badly thought out philosophy, some extremely biased history (which is supposed to be ok in our postmodernist it’s my view and that’s as good as any other world) and some really thought provoking commentaries. I’ve never resolved for myself whether or not I should embrace the essential differences between men and women or think in terms of social constructivism and strive for equality.

Regarding the Manifesto, is outlining the differences between male and female leads in this way helpful?

Experience tells me that female leads are usually more considerate, more interested in teamwork, better at picking up on body language, not competitive and so on but I am not sure that I want to see female leads described (pigeon holed?) in this way. Do ‘female’ traits really make you a better leader? I find the touchy feely descriptions of female leads implied by the manifesto restricting. I wouldn’t mind seeing some fiercely competitive female leads giving it their all in a competition.  What words would I want to see used to describe a lead? Confident, considerate, clear, exciting, musical, maybe rebellious … (my exact word choice will depend on my mood and the music but I want a mix of male and female traits).

Experience also tells me that female leads are not always better than male leads at the same level. Female leads tend to have danced both roles so they generally dance with more understanding of their partner from day one but given time most male leads seem to pick this up too.

I learnt to dance in a scene with a very strong female bias – female dance teacher/organiser with a supporting usually (but not always) male teaching partner so perhaps these issues simply don’t resonate as strongly for me as they might do for others? A more interesting question for me is why, in a female led environment, where there are usually too many followers, where women are really given the choice to lead or follow, do almost all women (myself included) still choose to follow? I’m not sure how the Manifesto will change this, gender roles are very deeply embedded in western culture.

A final thought, dancing might be about “having fun moving your body with another person” but “heterosexual romance and attraction” seems to play a large part in my local scene. People dance for many reasons but the given the number of people that dance, hook up and then leave the scene I would say heterosexual romance and attraction is high on many people’s agendas. Dancing just for the fun of dancing is mainly for the hardcore element.


* These are my initial thoughts, I might well change my view!


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3 responses to “Reactions to The Female Lead’s Manifesto”

  1. sothatshowiwork says :

    I find it interesting that you asked “Do ‘female’ traits really make you a better leader?” because my reading of that article lead me to take the entire thing in the context of people who are leading with the basis of alreading having learned to follow. She states in the second paragraph “I will even go so far to say that all female leads know how to follow to some degree.” That all makes it a pretty strong statement. With that reading, I know that she is addressing this to female leads, but I don’t see any of these traits as pigeon holing women. Instead this is a small portion of the larger case of why people should learn both roles.

  2. LDT says :

    I recently started learning lead, Mainly coz I was getting bored going over the beginner stuff as a follow and needed a ‘challenge’ to re-spark my interest (I’m fine with following at the intermediate level). Plus I there’s usually more follows than leads so it helps even out the numbers. I’ve had nice comments from leads that since I’ve been learning lead my following has improved and I’m easier to ‘move’. I’ve definately found I’ve identified what I don’t like in a follow and identified I was doing *that* and so adjusted my dancing. Its also made me more sympathetic to the ‘new’ leads who freeze and forget steps or stop coz they can’t think of what to do next etc.

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