Over the years, many videos of very young girls belly dancing have been popping up all over the internet and attracting quite a bit of attention. How cute, you say? I’m not buying it. No matter how talented these children are (I must say even I’ve been shocked at the skill of some of these girls) there’s something intrinsically sexual about belly dancing and is simply not age appropriate. Despite being considered an art form by many, and having many ‘fitness’ related benefits, I’m still not convinced that putting little girls in skimpy outfits and having them undulating their bodies provocatively to exotic music is a good idea. But in fact, you’d be surprised at the number of justifications out there for children belly dancing, and here are some.
1- Its a cultural thing
Yes, this is undoubtedly true as different cultures have different perceptions of belly dancing as an art form. However, I’m suspicious of those who would like to argue that it’s not a seductive type of dancing (or is like any other form of dance) as you would have to be quite clueless to not see the suggestiveness in certain moves. Grinding, rolling , undulating, shaking…need I say more? It’s also funny how most people would find an adult belly dancer attractive and sexy, but somehow when children do it, people fail to recognise how those same movements are sexualising them.
2- It’s art
This one amuses me, because as a literature and philosophy graduate, I know how loose the term ‘art’ can be. Belly dancing has a strong place in tradition, culture and history, but not all ‘types of art’ are appropriate for all ages. That’s like suggesting that we should take children to fine art classes or have them read erotic novels and practice burlesque.
3- There are perverts who are attracted to anything
Again this is true, and in a perfect world everyone could do whatever they want and wear whatever they want without having to worry about twisted and sick individuals. But guess what? We aren’t living in a utopia and a woman walking down the street in lingerie will attract more attention than one wearing regular clothing. This is the world we’re living in, a world unfortunately filled with pedophiles and dangerous individuals. Knowing this, its unwise to engage in certain behaviors that may attract the wrong kind of attention. And for me, having your children dress or dance sexually (or not even sexually but behave or look like an adult) is like handing them over on a silver plate and exposing them to danger.
4- Other dance forms, involve movements that also look sexual and worse outfits, but are not demonised
The fact some people do not recognise the sexual content in other dances that their children are engaged in, is wrong. But that does not excuse the sexual suggestiveness in children belly dancing. Even when children perform belly dancing with ‘decent’ clothes and music, the nature of the dance moves remains suggestive- especially as belly dancing has sexual connotations in popular culture and many traditions. Although belly dancing is very common in the Middle East and part of many cultures, it is still considered sexy, and this is not a word you want to associate with a little innocent girl.
5-Stop equating belly dancers with strippers
There are some belly dancers who do give off that kind of vibe. But even if we say that belly dancing isn’t stripping etc. (which I agree with as a general idea) I still feel that the very nature of the body isolations, pelvic movements, shimmies and hip drops are adult-like and sexually suggestive.
Of course, these issues with belly dancing can also be extended to things like pageants, modelling and cheerleading. But how does everyone else feel about the subject?