Even before we all seen Miley Cyrus do it to a married man on national television and before she “made it popular” on YouTube in a unicorn onesie, the issue of twerkin’ came up in my relationship. You see, Mr. Right, like many young men his age, is no stranger to worldstarhiphop.com. And people look to worldstar for some of the most outrageous, most outlandish, and shockingly uncouth antics of the people we inhabit this world with. It’s like World’s Funniest Home Videos for black people. For those of you unfamiliar, sometimes that means looking at a video of a bus driver punching one of his passengers. Sometimes the big video of the day is a woman twerkin’ in a bucket at a cookout. So at the end of one of these worldstar video binges, Mr. Right casually asked me “Babe, do you know how to twerk? Would you twerk for me?”
Immediately, this turned me off. And the questions began. Why would a man want his fiancee to twerk for him? Is that just his way of getting his ratchet woman fix? Does he expect me to do what those ratchet girls do? Why would he be attracted to ratchetness? His question also subsequently led to a further discussion on whether twerkin’ makes a woman ratchet, whether twerkin’ makes a woman sexually promiscuous, and whether twerkin’ makes a woman thirsty for male attention. We both threw out our thoughts and opinions. And at the end of everything, he concluded, “I don’t see no problem with it if you’re doing it for me”. So I decided that if it’s something that he likes, I’m not completely opposed but I need time to break down my walls and barriers and decide how I really felt about this twerkin’ business and why I felt that way. As I went on my to twerk or not to twerk journey, I discovered a few things.
1) This adorable twerkin’ how-to video by YouTube fitness guru Keaira Lashae
2) A slightly different perspective on the twerkin’ phenom from JaeTracie
3) And this article
The thing that stuck out to me the most in the last article was Winnie Mandela‘s defense of Uncle Luke (all those links are worth checking out if you have the time btw). She claimed that there is a certain amount of booty throwin’ and tossin’ that’s in our heritage and culture. This was news to my ears. I mean sure I knew black people and dance had a strong connection. But could you really argue that twerkin’ was in our heritage? So I wanted to know more about it. And I found that there is evidence of some sort of traditional booty dancing in almost every country of Africa. Lacking a connection with hip-hop culture, it is a far less sexualized, vulgar, and demeaning practice. It is quite beautiful actually. See below:
And to know this new information excited me!!! But hurt me at the same time. I was hurt that I had to feel ashamed and embarrassed by the likes of Miley Cyrus. And even as I watch the infinitely more talented Twerk Team, I can’t help but feel like I’ve gotten a cheap, modernized and arguably even tainted version of something so uniquely beautiful. I felt robbed of an opportunity to do a more traditional booty dance for my future husband–dances not affiliated with stripper and video vixen culture, crowds of men with camera phones, revealing costumes, and men trying to “make it rain” on me. Now my only opportunity to dance for him is bending over, back-arched, popping it to some Gucci Mane on in the background? It’s not fair!!
At the end of everything, I am still undecided. I know I like to shake my booty from time to time. And I definitely don’t see anything wrong with that anymore. I know I am impressed by the muscle control and athleticism of the Twerk Team. But I can’t see myself making a twerkin’ video anytime soon. Because as JaeTraecie points out, there’s a certain amount of checking your self-worth at the door that comes with this revamped and modernized dance craze. Unfortunately, it’s become mostly raunchy opening the door for more disrespect, objectification, and over-sexualization of black women. Unless of course, you know how to keep it cute and classy like my girl Keaira Lashae and like twerkin’s distant traditional booty dancing cousins from Africa. But what exactly creates that line between classy and trashy twerkin’? Is it the way the woman dresses in the video? Is it her motivation or intentions when creating the video? Or is it the overall way that she carries herself? Maybe if you’re not trashy, your twerkin’ won’t be trashy either. But I am still not exactly sure why some booty shaking black women embarrass me (i.e. Miley Cyrus’ jumbo teddy bear sidekick twerkers) while others make me feel proud to be black! However, what did become much more clear was the reason why my man would be attracted to and enticed by these booty dances. It is in his blood just as it’s in mine.