I hate Oprah but read her monthly magazine. Occasionally, she’ll accidentally allow a good article through. That occurrence has become more rare since Obama became president. Though she’s not the one writing the articles, I find it a little suspicious that every issue since November 08 has included exuberant articles about Obama. She has what I call Mentionitis. Mentionitis is when you really like a guy and you find a way to work him into a conversation, no matter the subject. Example from my own life:
Those chocolate colored pants look great on you. Hey, did I tell you Evan lived in a European country for a while and used to have a piece of chocolate every morning? Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that great? Isn’t Evan great?
Example of mentionitis from the Oprah magazine (I am paraphrasing but these are actual examples.)
“My adopted daughter is black. When she wonders why she goes to an all-white school, I just remind her our president is black!” (Yes, really, somehow, in the mind of the writer, these two facts were connected.)
“When you need to cheer up, read a children’s book, take a bath, or just remember that Barack Obama is our President!” (Yes, really. It really says that.)
Suffice to say, my sporadic enjoyment of the magazine had become ever increasingly elusive. Then this month’s Oprah came in the mail.
I am willing to accept that there are different ways to do things. I also accept that relationships are very complex things, and you can’t think that just because you read a four-page article about somebody’s marriage that you understand all the forces at work.
Yet when I read this article about a couple learning to tango in Argentina, I was so full of disgust that I knew I would not re-subscribe to the magazine.
In the tango, as in every dance, the man leads. For men, I assume this is instinctive. For myself it certainly is. It has been this way since the beginnings of dance, and we can argue about why it evolved that way, but the fact is: it’s the most natural order of things.
This couple is in Buenos Aires, learning to tango, and the following happens:
He would tell me what to do? I would happily surrender to his lead? Every knee-jerk instinct in my body rebelled at the idea of being pushed around against my will.
In the first place, it shouldn’t be against your will. If you are doing the tango, you do the damn tango, not some feminazi version where the man wears heels and the woman leads.
And why not surrender to his lead for a dance? What is going on in this woman’s life where the idea of allowing a man to lead in an ancient, sexual dance completely cripples her?
But it gets worse, and the next six sentences, which I will deconstruct, that really made me ill:
My husband’s instincts faltered because it is not in his nature to order anyone around.
1. Instincts do not falter.
2. He is not “ordering” you around. He is DANCING WITH YOU.
3. I can not think of an acceptable alternative to a man leading a woman in a tango. What would be the compromise here?
4. This is a truly beautiful tango. Watch how he is leading her, but it’s really *all about her*. Look how he supports her, how he gently guides her by placing his chest right next to hers. Tango is an incredibly sexy, incredibly difficult dance, and anyone who can make it appear as effortless as these two has my eternal respect. Watching this is just hypnotic to me. Oh my goodness, shivers!
In his work, he is, in fact, a leader. But it would never occur to him to use his authority in a heavy handed way. He leads by inclusion, by gathering in people and their ideas.
This is not leadership. Gathering ideas and people does not a leader make. Wars are not won by generals who ask every person, “What do you think we should do?” Businesses are not built by executives asking assistants if they should take on more debt. For anything in the world to happen, someone must make a decision. Somebody’s judgement must be unquestionable. Somebody must be willing to make the judgement that the rocket will reach the moon, that the bridge will hold, that the heart valve will function, or else you just end up talking all day and nothing gets done.
Men should not be “leaders” at home in the sense that they shouldn’t order around their wives. But men should also not be afraid of manning up and making a decision.
It is not a strategy. It is a genuine outgrowth of a kind and generous and emancipated personality.
It’s amusing me to that the author makes a silly feminist mistake of assuming that a leader can not be kind, or generous, or emancipated. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to adore men who seem to have a combination of all these traits. I have danced with Jon and Sean (not at the same time) and neither were afraid to lead. I have watched Sean make billion-dollar decisions. Then I’ve gone home and watched him make me a big bowl of ice cream and spoon feed it to me. There is nothing that says leaders are jerks who just boss people around indiscriminately.
I’ve never danced with Evan but I can’t imagine him being afraid to take the lead. In fact, that sentence has just cracked me up.
Men in the real world are not like this woman’s husband, are they? And by the way, I don’t think her husband sounds very emancipated. It sounds like his masculinity has been beaten out of him.
In the end, they are not successful with the tango, because, as she says, she read Mother Jones when she was 14 and her husband read Gandhi. (Ooookay.)
This kind of woman disgusts me as much as this kind of pale approximation of a man that she calls a husband. What is so great about this non-masculine/non-feminine couple? What do they accomplish? One thing I know for sure is that they’re missing out on one of the most sensual, thrilling, exhilarating, bonding experiences that a couple can have: the tango.
I just found this. It’s a much different tango than the above – very, very lively, flirtatious, playfully passionate and wow, some of the steps are just staggering! I love the energy of this one, though I think the above tango is my favorite – the slow, almost mournful passion of new lovers. This one will make you feel like you’re flying.