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Arabian Belly Dancing

May 22, 2008
Why Are People Biased Against Arabian Belly Dancing?

There seems to be a false assumption in western nations that Arabian belly dancing is scandalous and inappropriate. Generally intelligent people make negative comments when they hear of teenagers and young girls practicing this ancient dance form. What causes Arabian belly dancing to conjure up such negative images in people's minds?

Arabian Belly Dancing Costumes

Perhaps it is the attire worn when performing belly dance that makes people think of sex. While some dancers in different areas may wear gowns that cover the entire body, the general image of a belly dancer involves a bra, skirt and various decorative items such as belts. In some countries, such as Egypt, it is still taboo for women to show bare skin. Therefore, dancers there wear flesh-colored body suits under the rest of their costume.

Even without that extra layer of clothing, one needs to look at Arabian belly dancing costumes in a realistic light. Even the most risqu costumes consist of a bra that covers the breasts and a skirt which, at the very least, covers the pelvic region. All of a woman's sex organs are covered, and often in a much more thorough fashion than one can see at their local beach. If bikinis aren't considered to be indecent, belly dancing costumes that usually consist of much more fabric shouldn't be a problem either.

History of Belly Dancing

So if it isn't the clothing that inspires the disdain for Arabian belly dancing, what is it? Perhaps looking at the origins of belly dancing could offer a clue. Unfortunately, historians have failed to pinpoint a starting place or timeframe for belly dancing. What is known is that it was a women's dance, traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. It was such a gender-specific dance that in the past the only way for men to view anything approaching it was to have other men performing the dance. Arabian belly dancing was also considered somewhat sacred, being closely linked with goddess worship. Perhaps these are the factors that truly make Arabian belly dancing so controversial. First, in many parts of the world, goddess worship is frowned upon, so anything associated with it would be considered immoral. Additionally, since belly dancing remains a fairly gender-exclusive practice, it could be viewed as being anti-male. This is compounded by the fact that Arabian belly dancing celebrates both women's bodies as well as their inherent strength.

In many parts of the world, including the west, there is a push for all things feminine to be suppressed. Women are encouraged to dress like men, talk like men, and generally act like men. An art like Arabian belly dancing that emphasizes women through their bodies and, historically, through worship of the divine feminine is a stark contrast to the currently accepted masculinity of society. Women need to embrace being female and stop looking at Arabian belly dancing as something wicked. Rather it should be seen as the beautiful feminine form of artistic expression that it is.
About the Author
Charlie Reese likes giving live hip hip hop lessons to his students. He also gives a psychic reading to his friends and co-workers that enjoy getting psychic readings.
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