One of France’s best-known universities found itself at the center of a gender identity row Friday after reprimanding its ballroom dancing teacher over her insistence on male and female dance roles.
Sciences Po Paris said it had summoned the instructor, who has taught for eight years at the university, after complaints from students about her “discriminatory” language.
The 53-year-old teacher decided to quit, blasting the prestigious institution for wanting her to replace the words “men” and “women” with “leader” and “follower”.
“I say women on one side and men on the other because in dance there is a role for the man and a role for the woman,” Valerie, the teacher, told AFP, asking to be identified by her first name only.
“That’s the reason that we separated,” she said.
The incident has quickly become a debate-show topic and the latest incident in a bitter inter-generational culture war in France over questions of gender and racial identity.
Critics slammed Sciences Po for being “woke”, but the university defended its policy in the name of being inclusive for people who do not conform to binary male-female gender roles.
“We received a complaint from a student… backed up by several of them, according to which this teacher made remarks during her class that were discriminatory in nature in terms of the role of men in dance,” a spokesperson for the university told AFP.
“We asked her to desist from doing so and she did not wish to and decided not to continue with her classes.”
Speaking to the Parisien newspaper, a student who had taken Valerie’s classes said she was seen as “old school” and had made the class “feel uneasy.”
Valerie told the same paper that “there was a notion of seduction” in ballroom dancing between a couple and “honestly two women dancing together, I find it ugly.”
“They’re censoring me. I won’t bow down to the dictatorship. Forget about being politically correct. What’s next? Swan Lake with a hairy swan?”