MORRIS DANCING

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Jul 27, 2008
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Stirlingshire, Scotland
#1
I watched a documentary about the world of Morris it was very interesting about the state its in and trouble in some of the men's groups about if they will admit women members, some very volatile reactions and fractions it is causing within various troops.
 

RathDarkblade

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Mar 24, 2015
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#2
Hmm. I'm afraid I know less about the world of Morris dancing than I do about troll mathematics. ;) What's the problem about admitting women? Is it a "men only" tradition, or something along those lines? If so, why the volatility and the fractions? *shrug*
 

Penfold

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Dec 29, 2009
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#3
I know around where I live that there are separate men's and women's groups as well as a few mixed groups. It always seemed to me that it was 'blackface' used by some groups that were way more contentious, especially amongst the members of the public who don't know the history and origins of Morris. Where's Hugh when you need him?
 
Jul 27, 2008
16,938
275
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Stirlingshire, Scotland
#5
Hmm. I'm afraid I know less about the world of Morris dancing than I do about troll mathematics. ;) What's the problem about admitting women? Is it a "men only" tradition, or something along those lines? If so, why the volatility and the fractions? *shrug*
It was somewhere along the lines of quite a few years ago of allowing women to become members of working men's clubs as opposed to being guests, and at one time 40 or 50 years ago in Scotland a women if she went into a public bar of a pub would not be served it was lounge or saloon bar only for women.
 

Dotsie

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Jul 28, 2008
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#6
I love a good Morris. I don't have any strong opinions about men-only troupes, I think they're all a bit odd anyway! (Sorry Hugh)
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
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Jul 25, 2008
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Cardiff, Wales
#7
The use of "tradition" as a reason for excluding women is so out of date. What possible harm would there be for women to dance. Traditions get broken all the time - usually for a good reason.
 

Dotsie

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Jul 28, 2008
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#8
True, but this is more about men wanting an all-male activity. If I wanted to join my dad or Mr Dotsie on one if their lad's nights out, they might well let me go but would not like it - they would probably organise another one and just not tell me.

I don't like it when women are excluded as a way of holding them back - if Morris dancing was exclusively male or led to better jobs, more pay etc then I would be livid.

I did have a problem with the war re-enacter that was on here, since there isn't any other way for women to join this sort of thing if they want to. The excuse that sometimes they get hired as film extras wasn't good enough, 99% of the job is running around in a field wearing dress-up, and women are perfectly capable of doing that.
 

=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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#9
I agree with Penfold. From what little I've read, Morris dancing was not originally an all-male activity. There certainly were female Morris dancers in the 19th century, and the Morris tradition was kept alive by all-female groups during the world wars. Currently there are all-female and mixed groups in abundance. It sounds to me as though a few all-male groups are having internal discussions on whether to admit women; in that case, the "tradition" is of the individual group, not Morris dancing as a whole. I'd say it's up to them, unless, as Dotsie pointed out, it affects jobs or pay, or, I might add, access to good venues for dancing. It might, too - the male networks (sometimes referred to as the "good ol' boy" networks) do tend to promote the interests of their buddies against non-members which in this case would be all women. It's a natural tendency which is often unconscious. Various "blindfold tests" have proven that bias exists even when those in charge insist they are not biased.
 

RathDarkblade

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Mar 24, 2015
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#10
Hmm, OK. I have no strong feelings either way on this, but I do agree that if men just want to dance by themselves, that's absolutely fine - unless, of course, it affects jobs or pay.

What is the 'blackface' that Penfold mentioned? I doubt it has anything to do with the odious "minstrelsy shows" from 19th-century America ... does it? *shrug*

Oh, one sec ... *looks it up* Ah, here we are: the wiki-article for Border Morris. The consensus appears to be that in the 15th century, it was done "in mimicry of the king of Morocco" (???). A century or two later, it was done as a crude disguise. In the 19th century there was an element of the "minstrelsy shows", but in the 20th century and later, it became a disguise again. At any rate, Morris dancers these days who want to disguise their face either choose a different colour (not black) or wear a mask, instead.

At least, that's what Wikipedia tells me. Who knows if it's true ... ;)
 

=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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#11
One version I read was that it was in honor of coal-miner ancestors.
 

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