The first thing that came to mind when considering this story is that this is the type of story that would immediately make any burlesque performer defensive. And why not? Whenever someone who practices an oft-misrepresented discipline and sees someone take offense to what they're doing, the easiest and most natural reaction is "Hey, what's wrong with I do?"
|"...you want all the complaints, or just the top five?"|
While the temptation certainly exists for me to jump to the performer's defense, I instead took a minute to empathize with the parents of the children at that school. Note that I didn't say I agreed with them. Should she be forced to resign? No, not at all. From a legal standpoint, she probably won't have to. So that may not even be an issue worth discussing.
My empathy for the parents is the same thing I feel towards most people who are new to burlesque. I see in those parents people like my aunt, who is aware that I do some kind of striptease, but doesn't quite approve of what she thinks it is I'm doing, and is too afraid to ask about. I feel for them in the same way I feel for my partner's mother, who doesn't know quite how she feels about her daughter dating someone who is "in the sex trade." I'm armed with the same understanding that I have whenever other men tell me "I could never do that" when referring to my burlesque performances.
|Sometimes, even I have trouble justifying what I'm doing.|
And is burlesque performance appropriate for kids? Absolutely not. The reason why most burlesque shows take place at venues that are either 18+ or 21+ is because striptease is something that is not child-friendly. So in many ways, I understand the hair-trigger outrage.
If the performer in question had nothing to do with the YouTube distribution of that performance video, then my heart goes out to her. When someone publishes something (especially without permission), it has the potential to be damaging. The fact that students and members of the Hopewell community were able to link this person to her burlesque persona would only have been an expedited consequence if she had released the video herself. And YouTube doesn't do a whole lot to keep people who are under 18 from seeing things that they shouldn't see.
So if she didn't authorize the release of that video, then it's truly unfortunate what's happened, and I don't believe she deserves any of the backlash she's getting. If she did? Then I believe that with social media being the way it is, she had to have some idea that it would come back to her--and to have prepared for any fallout in advance from the parents of her students, who we can only expect to be less-then-understanding. Does that make her avenue of expression wrong or immoral? Of course not. But since when is challenging perceptions and pushing envelopes ever met with complete acceptance and understanding?
|It's far more likely to be met with hostility.|
I have accepted the consequences for being a part of the burlesque world in tandem with the life I live above-ground. My own risk is fairly minimal, as I'm not a public servant or authority figure. But if I was, and this situation was my own, I'd dig my heels in. I'd use it as an opportunity to educate, and I would certainly apologize for the fact that students of mine had seen this video. I would make sure the URL was removed and/or made private, and I would offer to meet up with parents individually to discuss concerns and answer questions. I wouldn't minimize their objections, nor would I admit wrongdoing.
After all, every burlesque performer is an educator by default, and we are each challenged with what the public thinks of us every day. Why is this any different?