Whistle While You Work - About Us
Whistle While You Work is a platform lead by dancers, choreographers, and artists that calls out harassment, discrimination, and violence towards women and marginalized groups particularly while at work in the arts, especially in professional dance and performance.
We serve the community through:
- An online register for public and private record of testimonies.
- International locally-hosted public forums that engage dancers in constructive discussions to exercise a speaking practice about harassment, discrimination and personal power.
- Workshops that educate performers about self-government and boundaries through movement, speech, and communal interaction.
Contact us if you're interested in Whistle presenting forums and workshops at your school, university, company, or in your community.
Why Target Discrimination Towards Women in Dance?
The initiative focuses on stories related to the arts, particularly dance and performance. The training most dancers are exposed to has many built-in mechanisms that promote subordination and submission which in turn prepare women to succumb to discrimination brought on by an authority figure or a colleague when they eventually enter the professional world. This structured chain of events allows for very little opportunity for professionals to recognize such behavior as disenfranchising thus severely limiting women's advancement in a field that is currently statistically dominated by men holding the highest positions.
Aside from the types of discrimination women face in their workplace, that dance and performance focuses on the body seems to invite levels of harassment and marginalization from colleagues and audience alike. The hope is to highlight incidents that are simply not ok and to empower women to recognize when they are in a questionable situation or when they are being targeted. Because a body is performing, because a body is being presented, because a body is used as an artistic medium does not automatically mean that body and the person who bears it are subject to negative objectification, uninvited advances, or any sort of systematic devaluation.
How can we serve the community?
Most dance companies don't have HR Departments, complaint reporting processes, or harassment training and Freelance dancers (a group that steadily increases in numbers every year) have virtually zero protections or advocates in the form of unions, institutions or agencies to turn to. WWYW would like to act as that agency in a way that serves victims/survivors.
In addition, we can provide resources, plans of action, coping strategies, game plans for victims seeking information and support.
Why Publicize Stories Online?
The list is meant to call to attention the smallest of offenses that may otherwise have been swept under the rug or forced to be shrugged off or gone unmentioned due to the potentiality of jeopardizing one's job, one's right to earn a living, and one's chance for advancement in their field. These seemingly tiny infractions are believed to, when collected, make up a mountain of discrimination that when looked at as a whole directly point to the unmistakeable inequity women and minorities face all day, every day.
The Larger Impact of Remaining Silent
The negative results of being subject to sexual inequity and discrimination in dance are vast. Some examples include but are not limited to a woman...
...receiving less pay.
...being subject to lesser casting and a more limited scope of opportunity.
...experiencing subsequent mental health issues.
...being subject to the incitement of competition (the detrimental type) among colleagues regardless of professional accomplishments.
Challenges We’re Facing
Dim views of sexuality education from an early stage of development
Ignorance of what actually constitutes harassment
The normalization of bad behavior within the dance community
Abusive figures remain in power and wield intimidation tactics to keep victims silent
Ignorance of how to react - ”deer in headlights” is a commonly reported reaction among survivors