Tango Argentino > Been Diss'ed?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by AndaBien, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    After moving to Buenos Aires in 1999, I had to get used to men on the street whispering something to me as they walked by. Their comments were meant only for me in a low voice. I learned that Argentine women do not acknowledge these comments, but they hear them without getting upset. They are part of every day life in the city where there are lots of people walking all hours of the day and night.

    It's not uncommon for a young man to acknowledge an older woman with a piropo. When this happened to me, I accepted that this is something Argentine men do in the city. They aren't aggressive nor do they expect the woman to respond in any way.

    One situation stands out. Alito and I were walking from my apartment to the milonga at Lo de Celia. I held his arm while walking down the street as always. A young man directed a piropo to me from the other side of the street. This says something about Argentine men who feel no hesitation to express themselves to strangers in public. It's a part of life in the city of Buenos Aires.

    Piropos are abundant between dances in the milongas. Some are published in B. A. Tango magazine for all to enjoy. The women who contribute them certainly do.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    That's pretty much the way I understood things.
  3. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Where catcalling is criminalized

    Verbal sexual harassment is now a punishable offense in Buenos Aires. on Dec. 7

    Has this meant the end of piropos?
  4. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    It's not the first time. There is even a tango to that regard: Cuidado con los 50. :)

    Personally, I would not consider piropos a harassment. I never felt threatened or offended in such case. It is not catcalling, wolf whistling or anything like that. As Jantango said, it is never aggressive, nor require any reaction from a woman's part. I mostly just ignore the man who says it, and carry on.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
  5. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Only three! Count your blessings.
  6. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    When I was only a couple of years into tango, a woman said to me once at the very beginning of a tanda, maybe the first few bars of music: "I only want to dance fast." I was completely confused. We made it through one song and I was relieved to be done with it. And no, this was NOT a milonga set; simply a tango. I don't even think it was D'Arienzo. People are strange.
  7. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    A good reason not to ask her again. Are you in NY city? A lot of "strange" people there... Which Milonga was it?
  8. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Yes. It was a while ago, at the ANM. I don't know if I ever saw her again. I doubt I would remember her though.
  9. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    I think it's strange to mix experiences of interrupted tandas with sexual harassment in one thread. Argentina is well known for his problems with gender violence and meanwhile fights against that. In Northern Europe there is not much tolerance even for "piropos" - maybe for that reason we don't have to rely much on mirada/cabeceo to feel comfortable at milongas.

    On Topic:
    Tanguera: "Are you a public officer?"
    I myself: "No - why should I?"
    She: "Because you look like one..."
    But that's only a common negative pick-up line - applied to tango - after compliments not doing the job.
  10. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Yep. It will be their "Yes is yes".
    itwillhappen likes this.
  11. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    There's quite a difference between a proper piropo and sexual harassment (or even catcalling).
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  12. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    It's in the mind of the recipient.
    Two women are told "You look sexy". One may say "Thank You", the other may say "Watch how you talk to me".
    Oliver likes this.
  13. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Is it safe if a lady says "You look sexy" to a proper milonguero...
    a) If he's accompanied by his spouse?
    b) If he's sitting at a table with friends?
    c) Between to songs on the dance floor?
  14. Oliver

    Oliver Member

    (Just because one is not personally bothered by catcalling doesn't mean others shouldn't be. That's the key difference between harassment and a compliment--how the recipient feels about the attention.)

    Back to the thread topic: I have been diss'ed on the floor a few times--more often when I was brand-brand new. I had partner's make excuses after the first song or two. I would guess it was my bad leading. But I'm not a mind-reader, and unless I did something inappropriate or made a person uncomfortable, then I don't see it as my business. They could have been having a really bad day for all I know.

    I have also diss'ed a couple times.

    Most recently, I was at a festival, and had just arrived late to an afternoon milonga. I am introverted and like to observe a bit before I start with the cabeceo. So I was sitting in the back, far from the dance floor.

    A woman (who I recognized from other milongas but had never danced with or spoken to) started walking in my direction. I turned my body and avoided eye contact to communicate that I wasn't interested. She came up to me anyway and asked me to dance. I told her no, she asked if I was "sitting this one out" and I said "yep." She sat down next to me.

    Another woman (who I have danced with often) came and sat down on my other side. The first woman announced to the second woman that I was sitting this one out. It was very awkward. To get away from the first woman, I invited the second woman to finish the tanda with me.

    Now, it was a clear diss on my part, and I feel empathy toward the first woman if it hurt her feelings.


    1) The cabeceo is there for a reason.
    2) If a person declines a dance, don't babysit them.
    3) If a person declines a dance, don't shoo away other people.

    The diss was the natural consequence of her violating several subtle social rules and creating a very awkward situation. She wasn't interested in avoiding my discomfort, so I wasn't going to invest energy in preventing her discomfort.

    Tango is an intimate dance. Not everyone wants to dance with everyone. One may not want to dance with a person for a million reasons. I avoid certain people simply because my "spidey-sense" says to avoid them, and I'm sure people do the same to me. I could look like their abusive ex, or have bad breath, or not dance the way they like. Who knows.

    None of that matters. Because we don't need to understand a person's reasons why to respect their consent. The lady who I dissed was not respecting my consent. Similarly, if I take someone else's rejection personally and put them on my list of people to never ever speak to, I'm not really respecting their consent.

    The consent-respecting rule on asking is this: it's ok to ask, if it's ok for the answer to be "no."
    itwillhappen likes this.
  15. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    "Piropos" and "acosto sexual callejero" are not the same thing. Telling strangers on the street that they are beautiful may be considered inappropriate and/or rude, but is it a dangerous action that requires police attention? In Buenos Aires it had not been the case.
    Maybe now it will be.
  16. Oliver

    Oliver Member

    Right. One is welcomed by the recipient, and one is not.

    The difference is the context, not the words. A compliment that could be appropriate between intimate friends could be sexual harassment at the workplace.

    I doubt anyone who feels perfectly safe and comfortable being catcalled would go to the police. The only ones who would are people who feel very uncomfortable by it.

    I have personally eye-witnessed men becoming aggressive and violent when a woman rejects their public comments and have heard many more stories from friends. I'm sure if you listened non-judgmentally you would hear countless similar stories from women you know.

    So yes, I would say that if you have a situation where women can't walk in public without being subjected to unwanted sexual advances, and risk aggression if they do anything but quietly endure, that it is a dangerous situation that requires police attention.

    I'm sorry that your perspective limits your ability to empathize with people who have a different experience of reality than you. But we all deserve to be able to walk in public without being sexually harassed.
  17. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    Not entirely. But perhaps that's because I'm European and because my dance partners have recounted the (often very creative) piropos they are sometimes exposed to.

    That is not the only difference.

    Sorry for being Eurocentric:

    That's a lot more narrow than your definition, and for a true (and good) piropo the purpose is certainly not violating the dignity of a person (especially at milongas that would be quite self-defeating ;-) ). Of course I suppose that the effect is debatable, especially when someone takes another frame of reference than the local culture to judge things.

    Perhaps it's my male privilege thinking, of course, but then I doubt that explains Lily's thinking (of course it's possible to explain her stance in terms connected to male privilege as well, but then you need to attribute intent in a way that I would not -- I tend not to deny people their agency by knowing in their stead how they are thinking.)
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  18. Oliver

    Oliver Member

    Just to add some details from various surveys

    97% of Argentine women say they have been the victim of street harassment
    More that half first experienced it by age 15
    Another survey showed 80% experienced their first incident *before* the age of 15, often as young as 9
    72% dislike catcalls
    60% felt intimidated, uncomfortable, violated
    over 50% were groped or fondled in the last year

    The October protests that helped get the December law enacted were the result of this and a few other things, such as the rape and murder of several women and girls, a viral video of a person showing what "piropos" really are like (she was harassed daily, and followed by some until she had to pepper spray them).
  19. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    No argument from me on the fact that sexual harassment exists -- it's not just a figment of women's imagination. It's a real problem and "boys will be boys" is a really poor excuse for allowing it to continue.

    But I stand by what I wrote, and I disagree vehemently about your statement as to "what piropos are really like". If they're distasteful, they are not piropos, no more than offering a lady flowers is rape or being a muslim is necessarily espousing a violent and bloodthirsty religion. There are shades of grey in life (even after a writer has ruined that expression for most of us), and as the EU definition of harassment points out, purpose and effects should be considered.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  20. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Piropos are not catcalling nor sexual advances.
    Street violence in Buenos Aires is a real problem. Piropos had not been part of it so far.
    sixela likes this.

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