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I remember seeing in my youth two women belly dancers, one performing after the other at a nightclub in D.C. The first was unashamedly sensual, glorying in her art and power. She eyed the audience as though to say, “Aren’t I luscious, though? Don’t you wish you could have this?” as she grinningly unveiled and twirled her body to display its wonders. The second dancer bore an expression of restrained, even resentful, performance, making her moves while despising the audience that required them.
I’m afraid it was the second that I identified with. But I’ve never ceased to be intrigued by the first.
And why was that? How do we women determine our attitudes toward our sensual femininity–always such a conflicted subject?
The more restrained, resentful dancer caught my feeling exactly. I felt obliged to adorn and act in a certain manner because I was female, not because I necessarily…
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