“He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster.”- Friedrich Nietzsche
In Steven Sonheim’s musical Gypsy there is a scene where Gypsy’s mother Moma Rose continues to harass her daughter who has become famous on her own after finding her talent in burlesque. Before she and her sister did not dare to stand up to their domineering mother; but after realizing their mother’s true intentions they gain the courage to stand up for themselves. Her refusal to stop harassing both is reflected in the closing song of act two Rose’s Turn
I had a dream
I dreamed it for you, June
It wasn’t for me, Herbie
And if it wasn’t for me
Then where would you be Miss Gypsy Rose Lee?
Well, someone tell me, when is it my turn?
Don’t I get a dream for myself?
Starting now it’s gonna be my turn!
Today we are bombarded with people on television and in education who exhibit behaviors similar behaviors to Mama Rose in Gypsy; so why do parents think this is ok for their children to still take lessons or be in an environment with such toxic people. Every day children are fighting monsters so they can not only make their parents proud but also save themselves from the monsters who don’t have fangs, horns, scales, and claws but are real people like Gorge Hopkins, Abby Lee, and the coaches and directors that allowed harassment and abuse to go on with a blind eye. No parent should be a bystander to the hazing, abuse, neglect, and harassment of children and young adults. Men are not the only culprits of abuse but women like Abby Lee are also monsters who trick girls and parents into letting abusive behavior persist and continue.
One brave mother left the cast of Dance Moms saying, “My girl is not a stripper” and now many other women and girls want to boycott and cancel the show even after both Gorge Hopkins and Larry Nassar were found and pled guilty to the abuse and assault of young women. No student or performer wants to be a monster, but when there is a cycle of abuse and mental and physical neglect in the performing arts some become monsters because they too had some form of abuse that was poignant in their minds or did not have the tools to stand up and protect themselves and their family.
It is not the student or the parent’s fault because of false marketing and illegal advertising The Ranch, The Cadets, Pioneer, DCI, TLC, BOA, DCA, and WGI got away with abuse, and should not be held above the law because of a popularity contest or because they are a non-profit; they all should be held accountable. We need more Gretal’s than we need princesses to throw the witches in the oven so that we can help the Hansel’s of the world become men who protect women instead of shame and exploit them and what they do for-profit and gains. Now we are beginning to see more Gretal’s who do extensive work revealing Dance Moms Uncovered, the victims of Gorge Hopkins and other directors, the brave women who held Larry Nassar accountable and put him in jail, the victim of Joe Biden’s assault now turned progressive, and the mothers and daughters standing up for Breona Tailor who was shot by police with no warrant inside her own home. To stop the cycle, we have to stop the monsters who created it.