Against my better judgement, I watched on as a bunch of scantily clad performers in red and black tights, topped with a red beret, twerked at the commissioning of the newest member of the Royal Australian Navy. It made for uncomfortable viewing, and sections of the public have – rightly – forcefully condemned Defence’s decision to give Wooloomoloo-based dance troupe 101 Doll Squadron airtime at what should have been a dignified event.
Senator Jackie Lambie has led the public chorus of derision, slamming the performance as an “absolute shocker”.
“I thought I was watching the Super Bowl there for a split second, I will be honest with you,” she said. “Whoever made that call, it’s an absolute shocker for goodness sake. It is not the time and place.”
One 2GB listener, meanwhile, who claims to have attended the commissioning in person, phoned in, expressing his dismay: “It’s not some eisteddfod competing against each other, it’s a unique ceremony for the commissioning of a new ship and we thought it wasn’t right type of dance for that occasion.”
Defence, though, were quick to rebuke their critics, claiming that the decision to stage the performance was in support of local communities.
The public will, for the next couple of hours at least, butt heads as to the appropriateness of Defence’s decision.
That the performance was inappropriate is plainly obvious and shouldn’t even be up for argument, for agreement and disagreement — and the ABC’s deliberate misrepresentation of events, another nail in its coffin, is being well-canvassed elsewhere. I have another issue.
I have a problem with commentators who – quick to reaffirm the talented troupe – have labelled the performance itself as a disgrace, an embarrassment and inappropriate, not because the nature of twerking made the performance unsuitable but because of the context in which it was performed.
On the other hand, many of these self-same pundits have publicly called for an overhaul of the toxic culture that has been pervasive in Canberra; a culture of abuse that has resulted in the mistreatment of women.
The problem is that both views are incompatible. Although not immediately obvious, the issue here is the hyper-sexualisation of our culture. It is because of this hyper-sexualisation that “twerking” – the gyration of limbs in a sexually provocative manner – has become socially acceptable. Likewise, it is because of hyper-sexualisation that sexual assault and mistreatment of individuals of the opposite gender has, sadly, become commonplace.
If conservative commentators are seriously concerned with the latter, then they should also see an issue with the former, both of which are borne out of the same nursery, that of a hyper-sexualised.
Follow Cronan on Twitter: @Cronan_Yu
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