Below is a video, found via The Daily Dish, of a girl, maybe four or five, mimicking the dancing in a music video featuring Beyonce. She’s amazing! Watch her go:
Okay… now for sociological comments… these are all Gwen’s ideas, by the way, even though I’m posting it:
We often think of childhood socialization as a top-down process. That is, we imagine that children are empty vessels and adults, mostly parents maybe, fill them up with whatever they please. It may be true that the parents of this little girl actively, even aggressively, encouraged her to learn this dance. But it’s also possible that this is driven by that little girl. In which case, it may illustrate how kids can take an active part in their own socialization. Clearly these parents don’t mind that their daughter is watching Beyonce, but she may be taking the initiative to emulate a public figure she’s seeing in the media (which surely includes messages about how to look, dress, etc.). Even if these parents don’t like everything about that message (or other models she might follow), they can’t actually protect her from the ever-present messages about femininity that are all around her, which are going to affect how she thinks about herself, what she should be, etc.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
JT — January 15, 2009
It's also interesting to note that she is definitely mimicking Beyonce and not either of the other women. At about 1:07, Beyonce kneels, and so does the girl, but the other women don't. A bit later, they kneel, but Beyonce doesn't, and neither does the girl.
So, it's not just about mimicking whoever is dancing on the TV -- it's about being the star! There are so many videos of people imitating this dance that I can't keep up:
Men, women, children, people of all fitness levels, etc. have adopted this pro-marriage anthem, found themselves black leotards, AND posted it for the world to see. Some of them have some serious reverence for it, and some are clearly clowning.
There's another discussion to be had in there somewhere, too, I think.
Anonymous — January 15, 2009
This is interesting, I was just about to send in a link to this video of a little girl dancing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-4-q8DTwI0) but this girl is in Mozambique- not America. She probably didn't learn her dancing from MTV, but rather her community. I've been watching the comments on this video closely. Many people, while expressing that she is indeed cute, also mention how creepy/perverted/wrong they find her way of dancing. Having lived in Mozambique, I see it differently. I think maybe what bothers people is the moment when she is dancing on the ground. Some people seem to find this sexual, while I think the roots of it are actually spiritual, from the Islamic tradition of praying on while kneeling. I might be wrong of course. But it's so interesting that Americans simply cannot separate sex and dancing. While Beyonce's dance is sexy, I don't really find it too sexual. While her costume is tight and shows a lot of leg, it's also conservative, decidedly NOT emphasizing her breasts or showing any skin up to her neck. To me it is great dancing, modern, inventive. I'll be lucky if my children learn to dance so well. As long as they are dancing for their own pleasure, I'll be happy with that.
Vidya — January 15, 2009
It's interesting. The little 'Beyonce' girl is obviously enjoying the pleasures of moving her body rhythmically, but would not yet have much sociocultural context for these actions (i.e., she surely don't know they're supposed to be 'sexy' or, at least, really understand what that means/signifies). I would find it a bit 'disturbing' perhaps if it was an older girl, say, pre-teen or beyond; but it's rather fun to see the act of 'sexy dancing' desexualized in this girl's experience of emulating it.
Kristina B — January 17, 2009
...And yet the message of this song, let's face it, is completely dehumanizing for women. If you like IT you should have put a ring on IT? Ugh. I'll admit I'm guilty of watching some of the endless spoofs, but the truth is this song is hopelessly offensive to me as a woman. It's objectifying, and it implies a materialistic perspective that I am aware of but do not share.
The little girl is just mimicking the motions, yes, and maybe also having fun at it, but she hears the song too. And that just kills me.
mia — January 25, 2009
it seems pro-marriage but take a good look at the lyrics.....either feministing or jezebel covered this....its actually about a guy who is acting possessive and macho, not liking that she is independent and dancing with other guys, and she's saying "well, we're not married, you never gave me a ring" Its actually kind of about her asserting her own power and sexual liberation.
or whatever. I'm tired
Anonymous — March 9, 2009
JT: right after the other girls bend down, they get back up and do a leg kick and arianna does too, even though beyonce doesn't. it could just be more fun to do whatever the one in the middle is doing, or whatever the girl finds more visually appealing. plus at the point when beyonce gets down she's the focus of the shot, you can only see pieces of the other dancers. these women really look very similar so it's not like arianna was picking out the "prettier" one or anything like that.
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