There are various reasons why using gender free calling might be useful:
- It makes it easier for two people of the same gender to stand up to dance together. This is important for LGB inclusion: an environment where a woman cannot dance with her wife, or where a man cannot dance with his boyfriend, without it being seen as weird (or “confusing”) is not welcoming.
- Some people are non-binary (neither men nor women). For these people, being referred to as a “man” or “woman” is inaccurate and may be hurtful. Gender free calling thus makes for an inclusive environment.
- Many people have a complicated relationship with gender. Being read as the wrong gender can cause pain. By removing gendered language from the dance, we have the potential to make it a more comfortable and welcoming place for many people.
- If anyone can dance with anyone, it allows dancers to get to know more people in their community (as opposed to culture where men dance only with women and interact less with the men).
- It encourages people to dance both roles, which makes people better and more empathetic dancers.
- Even if “men” and “women” are just names for roles, there are times when their inaccuracy is just incredibly jarring. I list some of these below.
There are specific kinds of events where gender free calling may be especially appropriate:
- At some events the dancers are a single gender group. Asking half of them to pretend to be the other gender is awkward.
- At events where the dancers are older children or teens, using gendered language, where everyone is dancing in opposite gendered “couples”, makes the event seem like a series of micro-dates. Using gender free language removes the awkwardness, and makes the dance a fun activity that everyone is doing in a group, without uncomfortable connotations.
- At events where the dancers are mostly pre-adolescent children, using gender free language seems more appropriate. Why pretend that the dance floor is full of adult opposite gendered couples, when it is actually full of primary school children dancing with their parents?
- Wedding receptions for two people of the same gender, or civil partnership celebrations. When the whole event is about celebrating the love of two people of the same gender for each other, setting up the dances on the premise that everyone is dancing in opposite gendered couples is just a bit strange.