Being a young woman these days comes with a lot of body policing and varied opinions on how we should behave. It’s fair to say when observing a young woman dancing, there are certain things she might do that entice men towards her. A classic example goes a little something like this: a young woman is dancing or whining to dancehall music, a type of genre that permits whining to happen, and a young man believes that he is entitled to come and grind against her, often, without any consent.
The term ‘whining’ refers to a provocative dance that usually involves a woman gyrating and grinding with/without a man to dancehall music, often occurring in clubs in the Afro-Caribbean community around the world. As a provocative dance, it can provide a space to be free with your own sexuality in terms of how you dance and what you might wear. However, this sexual freedom is marred by the experience of young men who feel a sense of entitlement to dance with you without consent and this is cause for concern.
There are two ways this scenario could pan out: the young woman consents by equally grinding against him or pushes him off. In both instances, men still often feel a sense of entitlement anyway and here is where issues arise. Society often discusses how we can educate women on how to dress and behave in spaces such as clubs and parties, effectively trying to police the way women behave and dress. However, we tend to neglect the fact that we also need to educate men on self-control and respect for women dancing.
Self-control is an issue that seems to pertain mostly to women as they grow up with lines such as: “don’t wear that, men will get the wrong idea”, “dancing like that will send the wrong message”, and yet men will only be told “boys will be boys”. Society continuously overlooks this unhealthy lack of control, especially sexual, that some men possess. How can we properly progress to a place where a woman’s sexual freedom isn’t in constant danger of threats? Educating men on how to control themselves sexually is important, and necessary not just for women but for men themselves as well. Consent is needed to set boundaries. It’s a sign of respect to ask permission, and if a guy does ask, then maybe he realises your worth.
Don’t get me wrong, whining and dancehall music definitely carries sexual connotations. I myself have whined to a lot of this genre of music and it was fun. The problematic issue is that some men believe carefree dancing is an invitation for sex, and not just a way for women to relax and enjoy themselves. Not all men behave so dominantly when it comes to whining, and it can be exciting to dance with a partner who understands and respects boundaries. All women should be able to dance carefree and happily, without having to deal with a man who feels entitled to her body because of the way she dances.
Written by Tamara Mensah