Stage Moms/Mums

I rarely watch movies, but I was drawn to watch Black Swan because of the ballet. It had its good and bad points. It was clear from the off that the director was male and that he was fetishizing ballerinas, especially their feet, as men tend to do. But I liked the ending. So shoot me.

Ballet, in my opinion, is a feminist nightmare. It is full of paradoxes.

I am always mezmerized by the dancers’ etheral beauty. They are of another world. Hyper-femininity is a prerequisite, and yet the training is so rigorous that few manage to attain the standard required. Women must bend and contort their bodies in excrutiating ways, and yet they are given their rightful place as heads of the art: they are paid more than their male peers and their hard work is recognized.

It is serious art but as far as I can see it thrives on women’s oppression. Women have traditionally danced for their lives. If you could make it as a dancer, you would be presented with an alternative path to the traditional careers of wife or whore–the only other jobs available which provided women with enough for their subsistance (Women have always worked, of course,…but because men appropriated the spoils of their labour (as they continue to do today) they were unable to support themselves.)

So if you could make it as a ballerina, you would not have to have PIV with any man. You could earn enough to support yourself and eventually, you could own a school and teach. You could not have children, of course. If you did your independance would be over. But if you remained single you would be able to live a respectable life on a reasonable income. And for a woman that is no small thing.

Twenty years ago all the best ballerinas came from Russia, and I believe this was the motivating factor for their success. Today, the Russians are being replaced by the Chinese, who are dancing themselves out of poverty.

I believe this is the attraction of ballet to many girls (today it can be replaced with other dance forms), and to their mothers in particular– the dreaded stage moms.

The charicature of the stage Mom is worth closer examination. The term itself is misogynistic, as are the portrayals in films such as Black Swan. THey are painted as unbearable narcissists, who are living their unfulfilled lives through their daughters, and making their children miserable in the process.

But nobody asks the question why these womens lives are unfulfilled. And if you look closer you’ll find that it’s because they have spent their life supporting their husband’s career (and men never see a problem with using another human being like this, which is another thing that worries me about them TBH). More often than not they may have had to give up their own aspirations because of an accidental pregnancy. Or it could be that because they were women, they simply had no opportunities open to them.

BUt whatever the reason for their thwarted dreams, it is always depicted as a personal failing on the part of the stage mom. Accidental pregnancy? Should have kept your legs closed. No career to speak of? Should have tried harder. Husband didn’t respect your right to a career? Why did you let him treat you like that.
The failings are seen as theirs and theirs alone… and they are despised for it.

But who can blame them for wanting more for their daughters than they had themselves? “They should let their daughters live their own lives”.. goes the old argument.. Yes, but stage moms know what that might lead to– accidental pregnancy and dependancy on a man. “Let their daughters make their own mistakes”…Yes but the consequences of women’s mistakes are vastly greater than men’s, and girls need somebody around in their lives who will point this out to them. And besides, they know their daughters are worth more than that. Even if they can’t believe that the same rule applies to their own lives.

And this is why men will never be able to attain the kind of physcial perfection and artistic breaktrhough that female ballerinas do.. they are not dancing in order to retain autonomy over their own bodies, or to keep themselves out of the brothels, or even just to be left alone by the opposite sex, the way that women are.

Amazing Chinese Ballet Swan Lake. Wow!

Svetlana Zakharova from Russia


11 thoughts on “Stage Moms/Mums

  1. Great analysis CBL.
    On the foot fetish (which seems fairly common in men) ballet also has that added element of sadism due to the nature of the training. I believe it also ruins their feet too.

      • Unfortunately I have not yet read Beauty & Misogyny (I want to get Spinsters first!! when I have some dosh).

        With regards to the foot fetish, if it is a specific ballet one (or even an high heeled one) then it really is in the bdsm league of fetishes, both these things cause the wearer pain and suffering (and I think that is the specific kick they get out of it).

        I never really understand why/how menz develop fetishes, so many fetishes, specific fetishes. I gather that in not being in genuine touch with their emotions, they need a trigger. Or, it could be that they really hate women so much, they have to distract themselves onto one part or one object.

    • I read somewhere that fetishizing a part of a woman’s body is a way of making her seem less overwhelming and threatening. Others disagree with me but I really think that the reason men try to destroy women is because they believe we’re powerful. That’s part of what the witch-craze was about. That’s why so many men are so confused about feminism. You want *more* power?!?!?!?! they wonder.


      • The development of a fetish is via orgasm reinforcement (like porn). Certainly they have a strong sense of inferiority (hence the strong resentment) of females. I still think it could be because they cannot deal with a “whole woman” (the thought would be terrifying to them). Out of their inferiority is why they hate and seek to destroy females, in order to feel more powerful (by “slaying the dragon”).
        The burning times was a systemic power grab by the church, the organisation that menz set up in the first place. As such, I respect no organised (manz) religion, they all hate women and seek to overthrow &/or enslave them.

  2. What a great post, CBL! A lot of hate gets heaped on those mothers. They are portrayed as narcissists, but every worse they are . . . pushy! If they were quiet narcissists, looking at themselves in the mirror all day, all caught up in their appearance, buying a lot of shoes and clothes, no one would notice. They are ambitious, that is also an “unattractive” trait to have if you are a woman. It would be sooo much better if they could gracefully, without competing with anyone, see to it that their daughters got those careers. Perhaps they could just float on a cloud into a rehearsal where a male director would admire them so much the daughter would have fame and fortune. They are controlling of those around them, especially their daughters. And damn, if a profession takes a lot of discipline, a child will not have it on her own, so a good bit of control is necessary. It’s also soooo unseemly for an older woman to do these things. She is just supposed to stay home and clean.

    I agree, when I read the things about foot fetishes, etc., I realized I could never see ballet in the same way again. For all its beauty it is the false kind of beauty that hurts the women engaged in it. But I am glad that there has been a profession where women could have some independence.

  3. How many reach that pinnacle of prima ballerina? These women are finished very young, like female gymnasts are. Male dancers have a professional future in dance beyond ballet, well I guess you could say the women do too, teaching ballet to little girls in backwater dance studios.

    I think it is the most misogynistic of professions and that they all have eating disorders, most of the time, they do not menstruate.

    It is an athleticism, more than an art I think, but why is our society so willing to allow this physical punishment and body-destroying for women HERE, but not in female ski jumping?

    • is female ski jumping not allowed or something? I read about all the measures taken to exclude women from being jockeys or it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. but you are right, where is the outrage against the damage of women’s bodies in ballet!!!

  4. Yes they are afraid the women will injure their femininity or uteri or something. Gallus did a great post on it a couple months ago.

    Talking of male’s and their fetishes, and foot fetish. I found a reference to about 1780 from fur traders rhapsodizing on native women’s “thur futs are small and vere fretty” or something like that, in an old Hudson Bay Company traders journal. Just you know, right there by the tally of slabs of salted pork belly and beaver pelts.


  5. Afraid women will be better than them more like. That’s why they didn’T want women to become jockeys, most probably. Women,would probably beat their speeds hands down if they were given the right training being generally lighter and more in tune to animals than men

    ” Just you know, right there by the tally of slabs of salted pork belly and beaver pelts. ” 🙂

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