Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Explaining Twerking to Your Parents

Every teenager dreads the day when your parents come to you, innocently asking: "What's twerking?"
Can public twerking make you go blind?
Remember: it's far better for you to explain, than for them to learn on their own by searching YouTube.
So...a critical first step is to acknowledge that twerking is a normal part of life and there's nothing shameful in their questions. They’re parents, after all and...well...they're curious.
Explain that twerking is a dance move typically associated with lower-income African-American women, involving the rapid gyration of the hips in a fashion that prominently exhibits the elasticity of the gluteal musculature. They'll be puzzled why Miley Cyrus, who is white and wealthy, does it at every opportunity. Patiently respond that, for Ms. Cyrus, twerking is a brazenly cynical act of cultural appropriation being passed off as a rebellious reclamation of her sexuality after a childhood in the Disney-fied spotlight.
Upon hearing what twerking is, it's natural for your parents to want to experiment with it. They may even proudly announce, "Look at us, we're twerking!" not recognizing the inappropriateness of their actions and words. Try to resist the urge to chastise them; doing so will only increase their desire to twerk in defiance, perhaps in private.
It's also possible that your parents may suggest twerking at their next dinner party. Adopt a strict no-tolerance policy for group twerking unless you're there to supervise, other parents' children are warned beforehand and have given permission, and everyone in attendance is invited to participate.
So Miley's got a butt - so what?!
There's a chance some of their peers are already twerking, most likely the younger parents. If they feel pressure to twerk to feel accepted, point out that anyone who forces you to twerk when you're not ready for it isn't a real friend, and that you think it's just as cool not to twerk but instead to do, say, the Brooklyn Hustle. They'll get that Saturday Night Fever reference, even if you don't.
They may ask if you twerk with your significant other. Tell them that when a young man and young woman love each other very much and are in a packed, sweaty nightclub playing commercial hip-hop, yes, they sometimes twerk to express their affections. Assure them that just because you twerk with someone else and not with them doesn't mean you love them any less - just that you show your love for them in a different way.
With a no-nonsense yet empathetic approach, you can create a safe space in which to discuss twerking with your parents. If handled sensitively, a positive twerking dialogue will prepare them for future conversations concerning a host of other topics they've heard about but don't understand, such as grinding, Ecstasy dance raves and the Instagram.
[...with thanks to Teddy Wayne, NYTimes]

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