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I appreciate finding this discussion, drawn into it via the Randa Jarrar path. I found her article offensive and insulting, not to me personally, but to artists in general who I know and to whom I have the greatest respect, as well as to instructors. The writing was abrasive and completely unconvincing in such way that I believe it discredits any future voice that RJ might have had – except to an extreme fringe who share the same opinion. Political correctness out of control was indeed the thought that came to mind. I have read articles on sexual harassment written by Indian women as part of a feminist blog carnival – they were compelling and went under the skin.
Fatemah’s article linked here was less offensive and I feel I can somewhat better understand the issues that some are bothered about. I also found this video discussion, which in summary suggests Arabs should counter bad belly dance interpretations by training and example. He does not blame any artists who are interpreting the genre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPvGkbRd6h0
In general, I think there are more important issues facing women in Arabic countries than kitschy interpretations of belly dance. If you cannot relate a story about the issue in a compelling way, one that brings the issue to life, be it a story about a belly dancer ignoring the culture behind the dance, or the experience of a professional Arabic dancer seeing his or her art degraded – if you can’t do that, maybe the issue isn’t so important after all. Or you need a better quality of voices than one Randa Jarrar.