Over the years, I have met so many amazing people in the kizomba scene, across the globe. As a conscious Swedish independent strong woman and feminist, it’s been a challenge from time to time to find myself in a culture that is very much focused on male leadership, male role models, men in the spotlight, and so on and so forth. However I learned to take up space, to hang out with good people, and I feel happy to be able to stand with both feet on the ground, being myself fully, expressing what I love.
I want to add to the important discussion going on about sexual abuse. And I want to start by saying thank you to all kizomba gentlemen.
THANK YOU, all sweet respectful kind men who always greet me, ask how I am, make sure I get back safely to the hotel, ask if I want to join for a bite, ask me to dance, laugh with me, hug me warm and friendly. Men from the Netherlands, Sweden, France, USA, Germany – everywhere. You are many – and I am so grateful to know you. To feel seen and safe as a woman in the kiz scene. To feel respected and empowered. To feel connected in a pure friendly way.
It’s sad that certain people’s values and behaviour make the scene unsafe for women, and it’s absolutely unacceptable.
I’m reading posts in the discussion and I feel happy we are talking about these things. I also feel a bit hopeless when I think about how many times I received sexual invitations, out of the blue, from teachers as well as dancers. Whispers in my ear on the dance floor. Texting. Nagging. Nagging. “I want you / let’s have fun / you’re so sexy / come on, just a little bit / let’s go to my room, I heard I’m good”. Even if I politely decline. Also unwanted kisses and touching in elevators by men, taking their freedom to jump on me, even if I didn’t signal I wanted anything. And once again, both teachers and dancers.
I’m not worried about myself, I know the scene and I know how to protect myself, but I’m worried about the new people entering and feeling a pressure to play along with the sexual invitations, flirtations etc, in order to feel accepted, to feel validated, to be invited to dance.
I won’t mention any names, but I think it’s a good time for you as a MAN in the scene to reflect a little upon your own behaviour. Perhaps even ask some female friends how you come across. Do you take responsibility and behave respectfully when at festivals? Do you have the ability to sense if it’s a good moment to initiate sex with someone or not? Do you really leave your primal instincts when entering a kizomba festival, or do you bring them to the concept? Do you really listen to the woman, both her words and her body language, when you dance douceur, or are in an elevator, or text with her. Is she really open to something more? And if she is, what is the purpose. What is she to you? A body? A “kizomba girl”? Do you honour her and what you initiate with her?
Even some of the “feminist” men I see out there are not the most innocent ones. We can all use some self-reflection.
We need more BROTHERS to meet us as SISTERS, to hug us with friendly intentions, to make sure we are okay, to laugh together, to share a meal. We don’t need more predators. And we’re tired of not being listened to, and being taken advantage of. We are free to dress how damn sexy we want, dance as many hours we want, without being judged, or without getting inappropriate invitations or even attacks.
Some say teachers should never sleep with students. I think it makes sense in a way, because there is a power distance that creates uncertainty and advantages which is not healthy, but at the same time I do believe that people need to take responsibility and that connection can happen across titles and roles. But only when it’s pure, when it’s reciprocated, when it’s a desire from both parties. In the end, it hasn’t to do with being a teacher or not, it’s about pure common sense and respect.
I adore my kiz brothers and out there who set the examples. Never stop bringing this energy to the scene. To all sisters who ever been put in uncomfortable situations, been attacked or abused – you are not alone and it’s not okay to be treated like that. To all sisters, let’s look after each other and empower each other. Share your experiences with other females so that more can learn.
Keep dancing – respect each other. A no is always a no.
And remember that the true essence of masculine energy is GIVING. Protect, provide, give. Not taking.