This was especially interesting since we've been talking about dancing switch lately on the YouTube channel.
"For myself, when I use 'lead' and 'follow' in a video, it is an attempt to be descriptive. It is not necessarily an attempt to avoid sexism. It is my express hope and intention that more people should dance switch or dance with members of their same gender or otherwise dance in 'nontraditional' gender roles and I really see the target audience of our videos being people who do just that. I would like to think that, of our viewers, it really is a toss-up whether any given move will be led (or followed) by a male or female dancer. In the broader case, though, I don't think it is necessarily sexist to refer to leads as gents and follows as ladies, because of the dances I have been to, for 99% of those in the room, that is in fact the case; the labels are merely descriptive. (The notable exception to this was an utterly delightful experience at Medley Marathon in Glenside, PA last year.)"
My opinions on that are similar, although for me it is actually a bit of an attempt not to be sexist about it. Both of us feel that we became better dancers when we switched gender roles and started dancing the other role from time to time.
I think you can learn a lot about why some people lead the painful crank-turn version of a courtesy turn when you dance it yourself--and you learn what can be done to actively discourage it from the twirlers' side. I like dancing the lead/gent/twirler role instead of twirlee from time to time. I especially like to switch to the lead/gent role when I'm getting dizzy (yes, it happens), because I find it actually takes less energy for me to dance that part than my usual one.
What? How can that be? Well, for one, most evenings of dance have several ladies' chains, but it is somewhat rare that callers will pull out a gents' chain.
Since it is, as the one commenter on the original says, a dance of equals, either person could throw in a flourish (e.g. offer a twirl on a chain), but it is highly unlikely that a lady will get the chance to offer a twirl to someone if she dances the traditional role, given the lack of gents' chains. Likewise, it is unlikely that a gent will be twirled very much if he dances the traditional role...unless, of course, he wants to be twirled and his partner improvises. So you dance switch, and the lady is a "gent" and the gent is a "lady"...and if you aren't careful, this will confuse everyone in the line. The sociological implications of that are quite likely outside the scope of this blog.
What do you all think? Sound off in the comments or create a thread in the Forum.