Glee does an episode about a Sadie Hawkins dance – a dance where traditionally girls ask the guys – where the plot basically consists of a cast of female characters feeling upset that they haven’t got men in their lives, who take the opportunity to ask out men for the sake of a dance, and as a result feel ’empowered’ enough to have control over other aspects of their lives, and generally feel better about themselves.
Because they were able to ask some guys out.
Not just asking a guy to a regular dance regardless of gender roles, because you like him.
Not, say, just going to dance on your own and/or with friends because you want to have fun.
Not taking the opportunity of having ‘control’ over who you may ask to decide that you want to go alone.
Not feeling empowered enough to, say, join the football team or apply for a university scholarship regardless of if you once had a chance permitted to you by a school dance to ask who you want to go with.
Not, say, just not going to the dance altogether because its a bunch of misogynistic bullshit that maintains a structure that you must be of a certain gender to ‘have control’ over who you may or may not go with and therefore allows other dances to continue their boy-ask-girl social rule.
No – they are put into a situation where they have the option of either asking a guy or be there alone, a situation practically pressed upon them, and use this opportunity to desperately grab the first guy that will say yes to them (or to guilt a gay guy to go with you and then convince yourself that this means he returns your feelings).
The idea of Sadie Hawkins is fun, and yes reverses the gender roles, but the idea that it’s ’empowering’ to women is insulting. Hey girls, now it your turn to have the power over who you can date! How about encouraging women to ask out whoever they want, whenever they want, not just at one set aside dance?
I found it unacceptable that characters like Lauren Zizes and Sugar, who previously demonstrated power in their relationships and had guys fighting and proving themselves to be with them, couldn’t get up the courage to ask a guy out, and ended up sitting at the side at the dance, proclaiming themselves ‘losers’.
Why weren’t there groups of boys sitting at the side, upset that no one asked them? Why weren’t they seen freaking out about whether they’re pretty enough to get asked out? Why did they go to the dance, alone, and have fun with their friends regardless, while the girls – supposedly ‘in control’ of the dating situation – sit at the side?
These girls were afraid of asking, afraid of being rejected. In an earlier scene Tina is turned down – by a guy that a) has every right to say no if he so chooses, and b) is gay – and she describes it as the ‘most embarrassing moment she’s ever experienced in glee club’. The other girls are afraid of this humiliation too. So why aren’t men upset when they’re turned down?
What this suggests is that women are always at risk of getting hurt by male rejection. Whether its being offered or accepted, if they don’t have a date, then they’ve failed. They feel ashamed and ‘un-empowered’. They won’t go for that football scholarship. They will be doomed to an existence of loneliness and mediocrity, all because they did not have a date for that dance that one time.
Sadie Hawkins dances provide women with the means to claim a man for themselves, for there has to be a man out there that isn’t taken, right? And some man is better than no man, right? Sugar asks the guy she rejected last year. Lauren asks a guy she’s previously had no interaction with. Beiste went to her Sadie Hawkins with a guy that was stoned the whole time. But they felt so empowered, in that one moment of having a crummy guy attend a school dance with them, that they changed their lives and became better people. So inspiring, guys. I feel empowered as a women just writing this.