Monday, August 24, 2015

A Day at the Park

It is amazing how becoming a parent changes your outlook on things. Recently, the whole family went to a local park to take advantage of the pleasant weather. There were several other people with the same idea. A birthday party, a few other families, and then there was a group of young girls (I am guessing 4th grade) who were practicing a dance routine in the grassy area just beside the playground equipment. There was a male dance instructor and several teenage girls that appeared to be mentoring the young ladies. There were also several parents hanging out in the area watching the rehearsal.

Despite the volume of the music, they weren’t hindering our enjoyment of the park. In fact, the only thing that interrupted us was that the instructor kept blowing his whistle. This too would have gone unnoticed expect my son’s daycare experience has programmed a very specific response to that sound. He will immediately cease all recreational activities, exclaim “Uh-oh!”, and seek a place to line up. After several instances we finally convinced him that it was fine to continue playing, but I made a mental note to obtain a whistle for the house.

On a few occasions, he would wander toward the group while they practiced their routines. It was during one of these times that I started paying attention to the lyrics that accompanied the driving beat. I finally realized that the song was entreating the listener to “bend over and let your booty do that yoga” before warning would-be haters to “back up off my areola.” The first time I heard it, I was certain that I was mistaken. After all, no one would really rhyme “booty-yoga” with “areola.” After the second time she said it, I glanced back at my wife and, upon seeing the look on her face, realized that I had not misheard the song.

It turns out that the song was “Yoga” by Janelle Monae. The tune further proved my hypothesis that lyrical content is irrelevant to a dance song’s popularity. What in the world is booty yoga? Does it require a specialized mat? I am fairly certain that she could have changed the hook to “let me sell you a used Corolla” or “let me be your triscuit holder” and it would not have impacted sales one way or the other. Don’t believe me? Check out this song that has 160 Million views on YouTube and tell me what it is about.

At any rate, I would have always found such a scene funny, but before having a daughter I doubt it would have made me sad. Here was a group of impressionable young women gyrating to a song about bending over and asking people to remain clear of their collective nipples. I understand that an infectious beat is a requirement, but couldn’t they just get an instrumental track for the kids? It is sobering how comfortable we have become with the sexualization of young girls. We spend time teaching their bodies to entice attention that their minds are not yet equipped to process.

Perhaps fatherhood has made me overly sensitive. Perhaps I should simply be thankful that a group of young girls have a found a way to collectively pursue their passion. Or perhaps I believe that in America all children have the God-given right (cue slow motion flag montage and bald eagle fly-over) to communal outdoor dance without being subjected to melodies involving nonsensical fitness regimens and nipple encroachment.

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