I want to get right to the point with this article and explore why I think so many fathers are so totally opposed to their sons taking ballet and where the American prejudice against male dancers comes from. I am not trying to offend anyone with this article, but at the same time I have caught so much flack and encountered so much ignorance as a male dancer myself that what I have to say may irritate some. I hope this will be taken in an open-minded way as this is a real problem and I seek to explain what the real, ground-level reasons are for it.
Ever since I can remember I heard my friends giggle or make jokes at any man wearing tights dancing on stage. In the days long before YouTube and Cable TV, movies might be shown in school as part of a history or civilization class and would inevitably touch on the arts and then at some point show ballet. As soon as the male dancer appeared, here came the jokes and snickers. Since I had done ballet myself since the age of 4 this always struck a real nerve with me but most of the time no one else knew I took ballet so I would just sit quietly and listen to the snide remarks. I must say that while this is not at all the same thing as someone being made fun of or joked about because of their race, I do think I know something of that same feeling because I always loved ballet and would never not do it but hearing people disparage something I knew to be so great and that was a part of me really hurt in a way that leaves you feeling totally powerless to deal with it.
Much later in life I finally gained the perspective to look back on my childhood and also hear the comments being made anew and make some insights into where this prejudice comes from. What follows is my analysis of the prejudice against male ballet dancers.
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