AUSTRALIA: In a bizarre happening, a video of dancers twerking in hotpants at an Australian military event has sent the country into a spin as it went viral when it emerged on Wednesday.
It evidently also received criticism for the music video-style choreography – featuring thumps, thrusts and butt shakes. Conservative lawmakers held the banner for those calling it “inappropriate”. Tabloids flashed headlines slamming military standards, while some found offense elsewhere – projecting shame onto the dancers, and labeling their routine as too “sexualized”. The latter received backlash over the body image of women and women dancing.
101 Doll Squadron were hired by the Royal Australian Navy to perform on Saturday at a commissioning ceremony for a new ship, the HMAS Supply.
101 Doll Squadron is a community dance squad with members from indigenous and multi-racial backgrounds.
The event grabbed more attention only after an ABC reporter shared a separate video on Twitter of the women’s energetic gyrations with awful reactions of attending military leaders. The video on Thursday emerged as wrongly edited, prompting questions of the ABC, which issued an apology.
The Navy in a statement said none of the officials or dignitaries had seen the performance as it had occurred before they arrived. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “standards have failed” but criticized ABC’s “misreporting”.
Conservative politicians and the sexualization
Conservative politicians attacked by saying that it was an inappropriate exhibit at a military event. Army veteran and independent senator Jacqui Lambie called it “an absolute shocker’’ and thought that she’d been watching the Super Bowl, she said, referring to the half-time entertainment show.
The criticism of the military’s odd choice of entertainment soon was dwarfed by the shaming and sexualization of the dancers.
The event was also conflated with a wider gender inequality debate that is doing the rounds in Australian politics.
“At a time when we are promoting the rights of women not to be objectified, there are other dance moves that would be fun and equally energetic,” a politician said.
But sadly, in supposedly speaking for the rights of women, very few asked the dancers what they themselves thought.
The dancers defend themselves
Members of 101 Doll Squadron said it was the media’s amplification of the story in the first place that caused the harm. They accused ABC of falsely including shots of military guests in the video and shooting from angles that could not be seen by the audience.
“We found this very creepy and reflects more on the ABC’s camera operator and their need to sexualize these women and their dance piece for their own gratification,” their statement read.
Australian women’s site Mamamia published a piece which said that it was the Royal Australian Navy that turned their art form into something to ridicule – “At the end of the day, these women were just doing their job.”