A postmodern academic signals her virtue: Why Pilates is white and racist

Last March I wrote about a dreadful paper on feminist glaciology, whose intent was to bring a feminist viewpoint to the study of glaciers. It failed to do that, but succeeded in signaling the virtue of the authors, all from the University of Oregon. Moreover, the authors’ work was supported by the National Science Foundation—yes, American tax dollars at work—although I doubt the authors proposed this “research” in their grant.  Later on, Mark Carey, one of the authors and a dean at his University, defended the paper, arguing that the pushback against the paper, and there was a lot, was evidence of its value! Of course the paper sank into the stratum of worthless research, having made no contribution to human understanding of anything.

At first I thought the glacier paper was a Sokal-like hoax, but it wasn’t. And neither is this 2014 paper by Sarah W. Holmes in Dance Research Journal (reference and free download below): “The Pilates pelvis: Racial implications of the immobile hips.” Although it doesn’t appear to contain an abstract, there is one published at 3rd Solution, apparently by the author. Here it is:

This article examines the treatment of the pelvis in the Pilates exercises “Single Leg Stretch” and “Leg Circles.” The teaching practices of the hips, as commonly explained in Pilates educational manuals, reinforce behaviors of a noble-class and racially “white” aesthetic. Central to this article is the troubling notion of white racial superiority and, specifically, the colonizing, prejudicial, and denigrating mentality found in the superiority of whiteness and its embodied behaviors. Using the two Pilates exercises, I illuminate how perceived kinesthetic understandings of race in the body may be normalized and privileged. By examining the intersections between dance and Pilates history, this article reveals the ways embodied discourses in Pilates are “white” in nature, and situates Pilates as a product of historically constructed social behaviors of dominant Anglo-European culture.

The author proceeds to demonstrate that Pilates is “the embodiment of whiteness,” using just the two Pilates exercises named in the abstract. These exercises, she claims, “purposely train the body to stabilize the pelvis”, which she considers racist. I have no idea whether other Pilates exercises share the features of these two (immobilzation of the butt, hips, and pelvis, which, to Holmes, instantiates a denigration of black culture), so if you’ve done Pilates, weigh in below.

I am not making this stuff up, and will give an ample selection of quotes to prove it. Remember, the author got a Ph.D. from the University of California at Riverside for this. (That, of course, is also the academic home of Resa Aslan.) To wit:

The stillness of the pelvis, and the racial implications surrounding its lack of movement, are just as important in understanding the embodiment of racial stereotypes. I therefore illustrate how Pilates deliberately trains the pelvis into stillness by examining the movements, teaching practice, and rhetoric surrounding the pelvis in two exercises: “Single-Leg Stretch” and “Leg Circles with Loops” (Leg Circles). These exercises train the body in a deliberate and specific way, and teach the pelvis to conceal, restrict, and control movements that perpetuate behaviors normalized as “white.”

. . . I argue that Pilates works to distance the behaviors of the “white body” from racially marginalized bodies. Through the act of restricting the movement of the hips, Pilates racially marks the body as white and creates, through the universalized and normalized aspect of it, an invisible racialized kinesthetic knowledge, or in this case, the performance of the superiority of whiteness.

We’ve read about how cornrows are cultural appropriation, and that General Tso’s chicken, when cooked wrongly (even though it’s not a Chinese dish) marginalizes Asians, but this may be the most ludicrous claim of all. It’s as if Holmes were desperately trawling the dance literature, searching for something she could consider racist and then turn into a Ph.D.

It goes on:

As I will demonstrate, the movements of the hips/butt/pelvis have been traditionally and problematically stereotyped as racialized behaviors of the “Other.” I propose the un-accentuated pelvis, commonly associated with “white,” or Anglo-American or Anglo-European aesthetics, marks Pilates in a racially specific way.

. . . The embodiment of whiteness has represented both perceived and realized moral and social capital and power (Dyer 1997; Wheeler 2000). Ruth Frankenberg states, “Whiteness refers to a set of loca- tions that are historically, socially, politically, and culturally produced and, moreover, are intrinsic- ally linked to unfolding relations of domination” (1993). I suggest, quite literally, the location of domination is kinesthetically represented in the movement of the pelvis. The embodiment of white- ness and its social privilege and power are inextricably linked. Whiteness, and the power that has come to be associated with it, is rooted in colonization, religion, and the body (Dyer 1997; Gottschild 1998).

And in fact the author demonstrates this oppression in photographs. Look at that privilege! I can’t even. . .

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 7.57.05 AM

Note that Dr. Holmes is white, which means this paper is an exercise in virtue signaling. Here’s another example of her actually participating in that bigoted immobilization:

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.30.57 AM

Of course if Holmes wants to maintain that the immobility of the hip area is white, she has to show that the movement of those areas is somehow characteristic of black culture. So she says this:

If pelvic movement, and its description, are lacking or absent from Europeanist aesthetics, then what does its movement infer? Racial and ethnic studies scholars have recovered negative racial stereotypes surrounding the movement of the African and Latino hips. As Gottschild states, the pelvis acts as a site where the “dominant culture projects its collective fantasies” (1998, 9). The Europeanist categorization of the Africanist dancing body’s movement is “vulgar, comic, uncontrolled, undisciplined, and most of all, promiscuous” (Gottschild 1998, 9). The Europeanist aesthetic denigrates movements of the hips, which implies that the converse, stable or stationary hips, is preferable.

Perhaps there’s a wee grain of truth here, but only if it’s the case that African and Latino dancing exaggerates hip movement more than do dances of other cultures.  But even if that’s the case, it doesn’t show that such movements are denigrated by European culture (viz., Shakira’s “Hips don’t lie“, which was wildly popular in the U.S.), nor that Pilates is somehow racist. And she fails to consider tap dancing, largely an innovation of black dancers, which pretty much immobilizes much of the body above the legs.

You can read this piffle for yourself, but let me add one paragraph in which Holmes admits that the Pilates manuals don’t really tell you to keep that pelvis immobile, but it’s implied:

Neither Peak Pilates nor Polestar Pilates gives specific instructions on the actual physical placement of the pelvis in this exercise in their descriptions. From my training experience, the implied position of the pelvis is generally thought to be in either a “neutral pelvis” or a posterior pelvic tilt, meaning that, lying supine, the pelvis tips towards the person’s navel. This action works to elongate the lumbar curve, and is accomplished by “scooping” or “drawing in” the abdominals. Polestar Pilates states that the body should be in the supine position in this exercise, but does not indicate the position of the pelvis (2002d). Similarly, with the exception of “sacrum on the mat,” Peak Pilates recommends to “lie on your back . . . and keep your lower back on the Mat” (2009). While description of the pelvis is absent from these scenarios (although it is inferred [sic]), both manuals maintain that control and stability of the pelvis is important to perform it “correctly.” If the embodiment of whiteness, and rhetoric surrounding the behavior of whiteness, denies or negates movement of the pelvis, and instead accentuates the verticality of the spine, then the Pilates exercise of “Single Leg Stretch” fosters this behavior. Further, this exercise promotes a racialized configuration of the body through its aesthetic values, anatomical principles, and pedagogical practice. Yet, all the while, it invisibilizes its preference toward whiteness by never mentioning race and privileging scientific discourse.

This is what we experts call a “stretch”: a cooked-up claim that demonstrates confirmation bias. I could give you more quotes but don’t want to ruin your morning. Just let it be known that this kind of “cry wolf” exercise, looking everywhere for signs of racism, dilutes the valid claims of oppression made by others.

And, to get the bad taste out of your brain, enjoy this video by Shakira and Wyclef Jean:


Holmes, S. W. 2014. The Pilates pelvis: Racial implications of the immbole hips. Dance Research Journal 46:57-72.


  1. Duncan
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    What a waste of an education.

    • phoffman56
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Not to divert from the main point, but the theory in Pilates is almost as full of BS as that in yoga, despite the value of the practice.

      Those two pictured stretches are stretching the psoas muscles. We nordic ski racers can get overuse injury in this rather hidden area rather easily. (“Nordic” is where poles are used for propulsion—“Crass country” they are mainly to keep from falling on your ass—the bad spelling is deliberate!)

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Did I see *nordic* ski racing? Oh, how hopelessly, irredeemably racist! Case proved!


      • John Raykowski
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:28 am | Permalink

        Yes, but are you deliberately using the word ‘crass’ or trying to sound like a New Englander?
        Or both? I could get that.

        • phoffman56
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink


  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    After looking up the word, I wonder what Joseph Pilates would think of this?

    There was a time when Elvis performed on TV, they could not show the hip movements. Not racism, just our parents telling us this stuff would damage our brains.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      That was cultural appropriation.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        ‘Elvis the pelvis’ I think was his nickname? And of course Elvis was male. And white. And he shamelessly culturally appropriated blac^H^H^H^H colored music.



        • bric
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          I believe Elvis was, like Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Ornette Coleman, part Cherokee.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            Then he was guilty of shameless genetic-appropriation. He should be dug up so we can burn him at the stake.

          • markbul
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

            Don’t forget Elizabeth warren!

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        So if you keep your hips still it’s “white supremacy,” but if you shake your hips, it’s “cultural appropriation?” No dancing at all for white people, I guess.

        Also, “pelvic stabilizer” exercises are the same as “core strengthening,” which includes hip muscle strengthening. It is part of any good workout and can have beneficial effects on arthritis or spine disorders. Pilates is an exercise program, not a dance. I’d love to see this “doctor” go tell all the African-American athletes training for the Olympics right now that they are white supremacist Uncle Toms every time the do hip and abdominal strengthening workouts.

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          Just what I was going to write. Dancers may use Pilates as part of their training but Pilates is a form of exercise. In any strength-training routine there will be movements that are meant to isolate certain muscles, which means you have to keep certain parts of your body immobilized.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

          Apart from the cast of Riverdance I can’t imagine any dancers who wouldn’t be guilty of at least partial Pelvic Racism in this woman’s eyes.

  3. tubby
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    So… if a white woman twerks it’s cultural appropriation?

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      In fact, yes, it’s been seen that way, as in the case of Miley Cyrus.

      • jeffery
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

        I hate to say it, but sometimes I find myself wondering about this “free speech” thing…..

  4. Denise
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Complete rubbish of course (the paper, not your blog), not least because my understanding of Pilates is that stabilisation is not at all the same thing as immobilisation.

  5. Cindy
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Well what is the solution? More hip movement? Why, then, that would be cultural appropriation.

    Everything is racist. Everything is misogynist. Everything is homophobic. Everything is transphobic. Everything is Islamophobic.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      And everything is cultural appropriation. I doubt there is anything humans could do that is novel in every aspect. This negative conception of cultural appropriation that has become popular is just plain stupid.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

      Good point. There is no way to win. Less hip movement = white colonialism and power. More hip movement = cultural appropriation.
      I suppose Rosemary Clooney struck the correct delicate balance.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        I still don’t know quite why us liberals don’t try politely but firmly turning the table on the illiberal left by calling out certain minorities for appropriation themselves. It’d take thirty seconds to find something they’ve appropriated, not much longer to set up a light-hearted demo against, say, ‘the blues’s appropriation of the guitar’, and it’d demonstrate to some onlookers how utterly fatuous the whole idea is.
        I’m aware there are counterarguments about ‘appropriating up’ versus ‘appropriating down’ but that would at least force them to acknowledge they’re working to some kind of internalised, implicit cultural hierarchy and they could then be pushed on whether, for example, Muslims can appropriate African-American culture, or whether wealthy, male Palestinians are more or less privileged than blind, deaf, wheelchair-bound, gay, three-nippled, homeless Chinese Israeli-Jew females(it’s less.).

        The more they have to outline the logical basis of the argument, the more dodgily patronising, ignorantly stereotyped and pointlessly arbitrary it seems.

        Also, anyone writing a paper at that level should be warned if they misuse ‘infer’ once, and failed completely if they misuse it twice, as the writer has.

        • Cindy
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

          And that POV is inherently racist:

          “You could never act as an oppressor, your culture just isn’t good enough”

          “It isn’t cultural appropriation when you do it, because of your skin cour, and people with your pigment just are not capable of being dominant”

  6. Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Panoptic discrimination hypervigilance.

  7. Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Eh, I don’t think the Shakira video means anything for this Holmes discussion. For one thing, she’s Columbian, and for another white culture has a long history of enjoying the performances of Others.

    I’ve tried Pilates and practice yoga, and Pilates is clearly a Europeanization of other forms. I think the idea of a specific targeting of black bodies is wide of the mark, although it may subconsciously contribute to the present appeal of Pilates in the (generally white, female) target audience for the practice. Pilates seems to me to draw as much on sexist prescriptions about how a woman should use her body. Pilates himself was born in the 19th century, and his methods became extremely popular among (very European-style) dance professionals.

    Tap dancing has roots in Celtic percussive dancing, which is very rigid in the upper body, so maybe her argument is a little more robust if made about tap dancing!

    Incidentally, saying something encodes sex- and race-related prescriptions or conventions is not the same thing as saying something is sexist or racist. This is a bit like the nail-polish thing. A woman who adopts conventions about feminine presentation (many of which are burdensome in their financial and time cost, and, as with high heels, may hinder movement or even cause injury) isn’t “sexist” because of that. But of course there is encoding of gender-role prescriptions in those conventions.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Eh what? If movement of the hips is considered an expression of movements considered characteristic of a class you despise, it’s not going to be appreciated.

      As for your last paragraph and its implicit PilatesSplaining, did you actually read the paper? It’s point is what I said it was. Here’s an excerpt:

      “In this section, I show how the pelvis engenders racial stereotypes and ill-founded cultural taboos.”

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

        This line in the abstract argues that the encoding embodiment of controlled movement isn’t just normative, it’s racist:
        “Central to this article is the troubling notion of white racial superiority and, specifically, the colonizing, prejudicial, and denigrating mentality found in the superiority of whiteness and its embodied behaviors.”

        Caitlin’s point about Pilates being 19th century is helpful. I recently watched the PBS documentary “The Manners of Downtown Abbey,” in which the formality of the 19th to early 20th century English upper class is reverse-engineered. Everything–how the cutlery was placed, what topics were discussed when dining, the rigidity and glamor of the clothing (for both sexes, though more so for women), the stiffness of how their bodies were held (children were punished if they leaned back in their chairs)–among their inner circles had a form intended to maintain class relationships. But to argue that this is inherently “white,” is off the mark. Similar restrictive forms are ceremonially performed in monasteries, in both the West and the East. These too are intended to maintain the social order and have NOTHING to do with race.


        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          The main issue with Holmes’ paper is that she has mistaken correlation for causation.

          Now, does the maintenance of class form contribute to social disparity? Obviously. That’s what it is.

          In a world where people from African have been taken as slaves, do rigid class barriers keep those of African descent in the lower social strata? Yes, obviously.

          But dance is not where we should be directing our efforts. We MUST make access to *education* easier. We MUST address the nightshift, which is disproportionately done by minorities and the poor, many without better options. These are forms that are perpetuating racial disparity in our still classist society.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

            All of that said, I thank both the still and gyrating pelvis for bringing up this vivid and important discussion.

      • John
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

        “If movement of the hips is considered an expression of movements considered characteristic of a class you despise, it’s not going to be appreciated.”

        Are you arguing that the the art of a “despised class” is always rejected by those who despise them? That consumption of art with distinct class influences is proof of acceptance of that class?

        The selective popularity of the art of repressed races doesn’t seem relevant, anyway. I don’t really get the article, but the post and comments seem incredulous about the notion that Pilates (the exercises, the gym design, etc.) might reflect aesthetic preferences of upper class or white people in order to market to them. That doesn’t seem like a facially silly argument to me. There are obviously forms of music and movies and books that are marketed to mainly to black or white audiences, even if the performers don’t match the race of the average audience, and even if the forms make nods to the common tropes of the other. There *are* theories about how influences and trends in fashion, cooking and media consumption seem to echo race and class relations which are helpful.

        Art history isn’t about causation and understanding symbolism can be interesting and important without considering it. In general, these comments strike me as offense-taking by people that haven’t spent a lot of time considering the boundary between, for example, respectful artistic citation and offensive appropriation. The fact that annoying social justice warrior college students use the latter as a sledgehammer doesn’t mean there’s no real distinction.

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

          The paper was doing more that descriptive art history. It implied a normative argument and made a causal connection between Pilates and oppression. (Causality has to do with temporality and the relationships between what infleuences what. Correlation is also about relationships but is uncertain or agnostic about either temporality or whether a another variable is responsible for the relationship. This paper claims Pilates is racist when Pilates is more likely correlated with other factors associated with racism.)

          Aside from that, I agree about the value of imagery. I certainly got a lot out of thinking about hips!

          • John
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            “It implied a normative argument and made a causal connection between Pilates and oppression.”

            It implied no causal connection. From the paper: “My intension [sic] is to make visible Pilates’ potentially problematic embodied racial discourses.” Later casual language is a matter of convenience common in art criticism, history and theory discussion that means something completely different to artists and art critics than scientists.

            There is no identified independent variable; no dependent variable. No attempt to identify variation. Nor are these common goals to ANY art history paper. This paper has absolutely none of the trappings common to real causal inference, and all of the language and conventions common to obviously subjective conversations about symbolism.

            The attempt to science-ify a paper meant to encourage critical discussion of influences in art practices, or to aid art practitioners in considering social symbolism they might use in creating aesthetic spaces appropriate and comfortable to multiple cultures is, frankly, stupid. The fact than an established academic needs to take after someone younger is an embarrassment to those of us interested in empirical studies. We can have confidence in the value of our contributions without targeting the work of recent PhDs whose program curriculum is half based on art performance, and who move on to teach dance, in practice, to interested undergrads.

            This post and the majority of the commentary are nothing beyond holier-than-thou attacks based primarily on unfair attempts to re-interpret the few sentences in the paper that could possibly be cast as causal to imply that the paper has a scientific and objective purpose. No one with the slightest interest or education in art theory would ever suggest that the *entire discipline,* much less this particular paper, intends to prove these relationships objectively.

            • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

              Not only is this comment rude by virtue of the overt use of the adjective “stupid,” it’s science-unfriendly (framing of causality in science as “trappings”) and an example of virtue-signaling through, of all things, art-history-splaining: the attempt to shame by demonstrating one’s one virtue and knowledge of art history. Further, though you originally claimed not to understand the article, you spew insults to Jerry, me, and the other commentors, which degrades scholarly discourse and is saddening given the lively discussion the article generated and the clear support I gave of use of imagery.

              • John
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

                My comment was MEANT to be science unfriendly. The target article here is *not science*. Nothing about the original post has anything to do with respectful, scholarly discourse. There’s no lively discussion here. It’s a pile-on against an article written by a brand new dance professor because it doesn’t meet the expectations of the scientific community. There’s no one considering the value or role of art history in society whatsoever, and no one has offered anything approaching a set of expectations for better art criticism.

                I can’t possibly be the only person who thinks its a little silly for a prominent biologist to dig into a minor journal of art criticism to make an argument about the value of “post-modernism” or the exploration of racial symbolism generally.

              • John
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:03 am | Permalink

                I mean seriously, from the original post:

                “It’s as if Holmes were desperately trawling the dance literature, searching for something she could consider racist and then turn into a Ph.D.”

                That’s not polite, constructive feedback. This is not an acceptable response to the work of a junior scholar in a different field. It merits a harsh response.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:11 am | Permalink

                In response to John’s comment made at
                Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:56:

                You vastly underappreciate the intelligence and backgrounds of both Jerry and the readership here. Many of us come from the humanities or are cross-trained in both the humanities and science (myself).

                You have not championed your cause by belittling this audience.

                I dont care what domain the article is situated in: be it science or the humanities. It made an empirical claim. And empirical claims are up for scrutiny by science. Pilates embodying racism is an empirical claim. It’s not a subjective free-for-all protected from reason by the label postmodern.

                If nothing else, the fact that it got Jerry’s attention is flattering, even if he criticized its weaknesses.

              • John
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink

                Being targeted for withering, un-constructive criticism is not “flattering”, no matter how prestigious the audience. There is no way this woman’s scholarship will benefit from this treatment; even if it were kinder, the point of the article is different from what you insist. The tone of the original post is insulting, and I don’t have a cause beyond suggesting that you guys are kind of being jerks.

                Whatever cross-training has occurred, there is no discussion here that reveals an expertise in the humanities or an intent to improve scholarship in art criticism. The OP and comments elide or reject the explicit goals of art criticism and privilege demonstrations of proof that befits a claim that is objectively empirical. There is no attempt to take the humanities seriously on their own grounds. The argument (in the comments) that appreciation of another culture is tantamount to acceptance of its people belies a deep lack of understanding of the history of appropriation and race relations in the entertainment industry. I find it hard to believe that anyone with a Ph.D. or pursuing one could believe that they are the appropriate audience to peer review an article in a completely unrelated field, no matter how much non-doctoral experience they have. (I find it hard to criticize work in closely related fields.) Major works by important scholars with big social agendas? I think that’s fair game for public intellectual discourse. Minor journal article by a new, inexperience voice? Seems like an attempt to strawman a political movement at the expense of a young artist. You’d roll your eyes if some historian cherry-picked a problematic article from a third tier physics journal to demonstrate that empiricism or positivism is generally flawed.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:05 am | Permalink

                It is this kind of article that makes people denigrate the humanities.And you don’t have to be an expert to see the piece is bullshit. To claim that one needs “expertise” to analyze this is, frankly, insulting. Finally, not all criticism needs to be constructive. The best constructive criticism I could make of this article was this: DON’T PUBLISH THIS NONSENSE.

                You don’t seem to realize that it is stuff like this that is making people lose respect for the humanities. I suppose you’d defend the Sokal article, too, if you didn’t know it was a hoax. Finally, you should learn that nobody gets a pass in their publications because they’re young: you don’t hold them to different standards.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:55 am | Permalink

                Are you claiming that only the initiated can properly understand that paper? That the fact it looks like bullshit to the rest of us is misleading? I’d suggest that is nonsense. Jerry wasn’t using ‘science’ in his comments, he was using ordinary logic, such as is accessible to us all.

                The corollary to your argument seems to be that pilates is only racist when postmodernists do it, and not when scientists do it? (No, didn’t think so). Is the paper supposed to have any effect whatever (like, possibly, influencing the practice of pilates by non-pomos?) If so, it’s open for criticism by the rest of us. Maybe it’s a bit of a pile-on but then, easy targets can expect to attract a few pot-shots. Same way we pile on the idiocies of fundamentalism or vaxers or homeopathy. We can’t all be tackling the hard questions all the time.


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

                Agreed, Jerry. And I think we all need to criticize such articles when we see them because it is through such feedback that perhaps the Humanities will start seeing how ridiculous these doofuses make them look!

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

                I don’t know where this comment is going to show up in the feed, but I agree with Jerry and Diana. This article does do a disservice to the humanities. For me, the main reason for this is the assumed linguistic causality, claims about the real world that perpetuate beliefs about the nature of how entities, race and Pilates, function together. The discourse itself is dishonest, as it implies the truth of an empirical reality but defends itself against testability, when we certainly could test, for example, the null of no difference between racism among Pilates aficionados and a non-Pilates group. After controlling for age, sex, and SES, my a priori hunch is that the hypothesis would NOT be rejected.

                However, the moat of defense that fortifies the empirical claim by Holmes is that calling an empirical claim “art” anoints it special protections against reason, like the belief in g*d held by Sophisticated Theologians.

                Yes, both the unquestioned causal language in this paper and the defense of it denigrate the humanities. And this is sad, as diving into imagery is a powerful way to generate ideas.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted July 12, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

              The paper made real-world claims about an extremely delicate and important subject: racism. You’ve come along and claimed it was “subjective” and thus…what? We shouldn’t demand that it have any evidence to support its argument?
              If a writer makes claims about the real world then they lose the right to object when people take them seriously and find their argument…wanting.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

                I think this is important, Saul. Making racism subjective makes it more of a public health problem than it already is.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I think Pilates, or any popular exercise, becomes popular because of marketing. I seriously doubt that the overwhelming majority of people who do Pilates, or sell it, think about any of what was related in the OP, even tangentially. It is just one of myriad exercise products out there that range from outright scam to not remotely as miraculous as billed but similar efficacy to many other reasonable types of exercise and buyer be-ware.

      • Kevin
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

        Almost all efforts of our civilization to exercise are ridiculously over popularized. Modern society is filled with excuses to exercise and for most stuff like Pilates is not exception.

        It’s like I am surrounded by people afraid of moving their bodies. As I like to remind my mom, when she stops moving, she will stop moving.

        • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          I would guess that there are so many exercise devices, programs, and rituals out there because people are looking for something that doesn’t exist: an easy way to get fit. If there were an easy way to get fit, that would be the method everyone would adopt and there’d be no market for fad after fad after fad.

          • Helen Hollis
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 3:57 am | Permalink

            I agree. There are a lot of people that seek something that is as easy as threading a needle. They pray about it. We run about it.

    • merilee
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Don’t you mean Colombian, or did Shakira attend Columbia University?

      What a load of BS this paper is!!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        “Don’t you mean Colombian”

        That set of a bzzt in my nitpick circuits too.


        (Coming to you from Newquay, Cornwall, where cultural-appropriation-for-the-benefit-of-tourists is rampant. Heck, even the public toilets are built of stone and slate-roofed, and a damn good thing too)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          … set OFF a bzzt ….

          bzzt bzzt bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt!


      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        I made the same spelling error twice in an email to someone who wrote a book on grammar. Seriously. The horrors!

      • Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Hahaha, braino. Doh.

  8. scottoest
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    “Cultural appropriation” has always struck me as such a baffling concept (as far as being a bad thing), in a MULTICULTURAL society.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I think the idea of multiculturalism is to maintain separate cultural identities, rather than encouraging the melting pot.

      • scottoest
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        If I remember correctly, I believe that’s called a “cultural mosaic”, versus the “melting pot”.

        Though I think hard definitions are weird in the first place, since it’s not like they are enshrined in law. When you stick a bunch of different cultures together in the same country for decades, if not centuries, then mainstream culture is pretty much predestined to “appropriate” things from all over that spectrum.

        • Scott Draper
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

          Multiculturalism is often described as an ideology and Wikipedia says

          Multicultural ideologies and policies vary widely,[1] ranging from the advocacy of equal respect to the various cultures in a society, to a policy of promoting the maintenance of cultural diversity

          The latter definition is the “anti-melting pot” I was referring to. Perhaps the term “mosaic” could be used to label that version of multiculturalism.

          • Helen Hollis
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:00 am | Permalink

            I have never heard of anyone wanting to “melt” with Finns.

    • John
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

      The term gets abused, but there is a difference between citation to or influence by other cultures and “appropriation”. I’m not particularly well educated on the issue, but “appropriation” tends to refer to the adoption of artistic expression in the context otherwise marked by deep oppression. Combining influences in a context of mutual respect and acknowledgement is encouraged.

      As an example, the use of blues rhythms by early American rock and roll is often seen as appropriation because the intended white audience enjoyed 12 bar chord progressions while society generally denied the ability of black Americans to be creative. By contrast, the use of Jamaican dancehall rhythms in contemporary R&B or pop is viewed as collaborative because black dancehall artists produce and feature on many tracks, and a culture of reciprocal homage is common in the industry.

      • Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:02 am | Permalink

        You continue to defend this article because an older scholar attacked a younger one (though I deny that that person can be considered a scholar). And yes, the article was bullshit, and the response to that was largely mockery, which is appropriate. Your defensiveness about this kind of nonsense shines through clearly, and amuses me.

        At any rate, you’ve broken the rules about civility and politeness here, and have also told me what I am and am not supposed to say. So fare-thee-well, and peddle your ridiculous defense of bullshit somewhere else.

        • Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

          A wonderful Dear John letter!!! And I am fairly sure that most of us agree that this type of bs not only denigrates the humanities as well as fueling mockery of the academy by those so-inclined.

        • Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          I also not that John chose to *splain* (school and shame me on the rites of passages in the humanities) me, maybe the only person overtly acknowledging some merit spawned in my own thinking from the article. This tells me that his motivation was one of DOMINANCE. His words: “find it hard to believe that anyone with a Ph.D. or pursuing one could believe that they are the appropriate audience to peer review an article in a completely unrelated field, no matter how much non-doctoral experience they have.” The pursuing a PhD was aimed at me, of course.

          With two graduate degrees in the humanities and presently drafting a manuscript with two humanities scholars, this does, indeed, speak loudly to me about how members of the regressive Left eat their own. I was the one not mocking. But bad girl. I should have stayed in my lane, silenced.

          I’m now more fully inclined to erect a cognitive boundary sooner and not bother engaging with people who’d rather issue insults than build on the scholarly olive branch I extended.

          Sad. But onward.

          I must go back to writing my own normative argument.

          • Cindy
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink


            That was my impression too. A condescending attitude served up in the language of bafflegab.

            • Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

              “Bafflegab”, oh you’ve made me smile; what an appealing and new word to my ears. Thanks.

              • Merilee
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

                Bafflegab can be applied equally to The Donald, a master of mansplaining.

                Sarah Pee, too, but not sure what you’d call her brand of splaining

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

                Well, speaking of both dominance and splaining, I have a story about gorillas. I once found myself observing three gorillas from the safety of a ravine and glass. As a lank man of more than six feet approached, the silverback climbed a tree with a rotund and stable branch extending towards us, glid himself to its farthermost tip, and reached his hand between his legs, steadying it until heavy with a thick fecal load. He then flung his hand’s contents at the unexpecting human beanstalk, bullseye’ng the glass in front of him with a splay of formidable place-setting. The man jumped back and released a nervous laugh. He’d been splained–told with a load of sh*t where his place was.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted July 13, 2016 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            I don’t agree with you about the merits of the paper in question but I did notice that your polite and relatively supportive reply to this John guy was met with a pretty contemptuous, stonewalling response.
            There’s a difference between people who are at least open to constructive debate and those who aren’t, so kudos to you for that.
            The paper’s still daft though.🙂

            • Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

              Saul, being a humanities person myself, open to exploring multiple layers of interpretation, I can eagerly say the paper was mostly horsesh*t.

              • Posted July 13, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                Of Trojan proportions, too.

                No doubt that is what its proponent framers will argue, as did the dean for the glaciology paper: even if they failed to get people to take the work seriously as a form of scholarship, to the extent that people “own” their participation in racist structures, they successfully Trojan-horsed their point.

                The paper is, indeed, art masquerading as serious scholarship. If former reader John were a bit more clever, he’d have picked up on that.

                They’ll say our disdain and mocking means they “got” us, like a painting that you cringe.

              • Posted July 13, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

                cringe AT

                (though, hah, leaving off the AT made me cringe)

  9. Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Peer review for this paper should have included exercise and dance experts.

    Pilates is not expressive like the way dance is. Done correctly means that you strengthen muscles without stressing your back. Hatha yoga also emphasises this aspect. When doing a backbend, the pelvis and buttocks need to be rigid. In order for this author’s viewpoint to make any sense, she would have to show evidence that Blacks have different muscles from Whites.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Hey, maybe she’s been consulting with the ghost of Jimmy the Greek and learning how black athletes’ ass muscles are attached farther up or something.

    • Sastra
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      In order to make sense of the author’s viewpoint, I have to envision black pilates students protesting that they just can’t keep their hips still — and teachers insensitively failing to recognize that yes, they need to allow the black students to do the exercises a different way. Black people have too much rhythm in their blood to do traditional pilates, perhaps.
      Which wouldn’t be at all racist, because it’s a compliment.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        I guess all the black Olympic lifters and bodybuilders who do proper deadlifts aren’t actually concerned about preventing disastrous back injuries, they’re really just a bunch of Uncle Toms.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted July 13, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          I tell you who’s always been a shameless Uncle Tom…my father’s brother, Thomas!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  10. Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I wonder where got the inspiration for doing this ‘research’… during her Pilates class?

    It’s the equivalent of kids writing ‘what i did on my summer holidays’.

  11. Robert Seidel
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    So I get this right, the author really just talks about immobility of the pelvis during the exercises itself? Because she seems to imply that Pilates is meant to teach a “white” posture in general. But in a physical fitness exercise itself, there are inherently right ways and wrong ways, because doing it wrong will hurt your body.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      White posture is bullshit anyway. I find her assumptions racist.

      • Sastra
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        White posture is walking like you’re holding a penny between your butt cheeks.

        Wait, no — that’s how you’re supposed to make people think you’re rich upper class.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        We might say they are ass-sumptions.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          Haha and hip-ocritical!

  12. somer
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    How to make up an structural oppression case study about anything and get paid for it

  13. GBJames
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I suddenly realized the white, racist, colonial, privileged nature of having my hip stabilized by complete replacement surgery. Had I only read this paper first I might have done the virtuous thing instead and continued to rely on my wife to walk to our local shop for my morning cup of java. Oh, the guilt I’m suffering.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      “Oh, the guilt I’m suffering.”

      I don’t believe you.

      🙂 , by the way

  14. Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    So I gather that Pilates are racist, sexist and elitist. Whew, good. I needed an excuse not to do them with my wife.

  15. Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I am contemplating writing a paper re cultural appropriation from other species. I think I will start with bipedalism; maybe submit it to Dance Research Journal.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      We’ve been called the naked chicken.😎

  16. Scott Draper
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The weight lifting community laughs at things like Pilates that say they strengthen or stabilize anything. The best way to get strong or become more stable is by lifting heavy objects over your head. Generally, lifting light objects many times operates to improve endurance, rather than strength.

    The owner of a weight lifting website I frequent brought a 92-year-old woman into his gym and, after a few weeks of squats, she threw away her walker and her cane. His theory is that old people fall not so much due to inner ear problems, but because the muscles of the lower leg that are used to maintain balance get weak.

    Pilates is probably better than nothing, but traditional types of exercise are likely to be more effective.

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Pilates is essentially body weight resistance training. It’s not ineffective for increasing strength. (AIUI there are also some philosophical notions attached to Pilates that tend to the wooish.)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        I know doing ballet all my life I beat every man I knew, many weight lifters, in sit ups. Pilates uses the same exercises or variations of that we did in ballet. I owe ballet to still having a somewhat strong core despite years of neglect through illness.

        • darrelle
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          I remember well the day that my not then but future wife was making fun of me while not so patiently waiting for me to finish my 300 crunches at the end of my work out so we could leave them gym. I said something like, “Hah, I bet you can’t do 300 crunches!”

          Unfortunately she took me up on the challenge and proceeded to completely crush me. She just laughed. I gave up on crunches and started doing the ab exercises she did. It took several weeks before I could do a credible job of one of her 15 minute ab exercises!

  17. rickflick
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Sheeesh! My L5 hurts just thinkin’ ’bout it.

  18. Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Let’s suppose we take this seriously. The author needs to show that:

    * Hip movement in non-white cultures are common, or stereotypical. This already is dubious, also e.g. Elvis the Pelvis. Here postmodernists all too often fall into the confirmation bias trap, seeing only things they want to see, and then creating trivially true narratives around their perceptions. In this case, hip movement is also seen as sexually charged and European traditions have had problems with that (e.g. Puritans).

    * Demonstrate how Pilates does not merely contain a European tradition of dance, which could have many reasons why it is the way it is, but also specifically that it developed in reaction to “non-white” culture the way it did. After all, differences that arise out of different traditions are not necessarily “othering” (most of the time the effect of othering happens intra-culturally, i.e. the upper class develops manners that sets it apart from a lower class etc)

    * Demonstrate that the excersizes in discussion are concrete instances of the above, and not for other reasons (medical etc) the way they are.

    * Demonstrate why the moves picked out are representative for the thesis.

    * and probably more…

    • John
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      1) Elvis’s act was completely engineered to capture a white audience that had recently started listening to and watching black bands and the traditional European view of hip movements as lascivious is *exactly the point* the author is making. In her view, Pilates was Puritanized to make it acceptable to a particular audience.


      2) She would need to demonstrate those things *if this were a paper in a discipline that cares about causation*. The project is entirely descriptive and the language understood by art historians used here reflects that.

      • somer
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:32 am | Permalink

        Pilates is an EXERCISE not a dance

    • somer
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:31 am | Permalink

      …. and assuming the nonsense does make some sense – demonstrate why there are not more important things to study or be concerned about

  19. Desnes Diev
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I see Impact factor as an not-so-reliable way to assess the quality of a study but, in this case, I am ready to accept it as significant: it seems to be zero (c.f., Researchgate). I don’t think this paper will help to improve it.

    • phoffman56
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      In mathematics research, you’ll see instances of a paper with many errors (no need to replace “many” by ‘multiple’ here to establish one’s techredibility!) Then lots of citations pointing out the errors. I wonder how many tenure/promotion committees have been bamboozled by the citation count here. Good idea maybe to at least glance through the cited papers’ comments!

      • phoffman56
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        I meant at the end the papers citing the originals’ goofs

  20. Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  21. J.Baldwin
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” -Mae West

    Was Ms. West subverting dominant western cultural mores or appropriating non-western cultural hip mobility…or both? If both, wasn’t the trade off worth it?

    ‘When between two evils I pick the one I’ve never tried before.” – Mae West

  22. Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Holy heck, Shakira is jaw-dropping. I think I want to go do me some sit-ups, grab a few hips, and lick some navels.


    • Merilee
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      And she’s married to the great Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué.

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        My jaw has dropped for the second time today; that’s one gorgeous man.

        More sit-ups for me!

        • Merilee
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          For me, too! Just saw that Shakira is 10 yrs older than Gerard and still looks like that 3 months after baby #2. Good genes ( and lots of situps)…

          • rickflick
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

            Aren’t situps racist?

            • Merilee
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

              No,those are sit-INs.

          • Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

            Oh, behave. You can’t talk about beauty and genes together. That’s a regressive Leftist no-no. Bad Merlilee :-p

            Oh the envy. I wish I had some of Shakira’s variation for beauty. At least I can try to take care of what I do have.

            It’s hard, though, to be healthy. For me exercise is tied to my emotional wellbeing in a tight cycle. Feel bad==no exercise. No exercise==feel bad. You get the picture.

            • merilee
              Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

              Get your booty out there Charlene and exercise it, “appropriately” or not;-)

              Gotta try some of Shakira’s moves in zumba later this week. Might not be able to walk the day after…

              • darrelle
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:45 am | Permalink

                Even Shakira has limits. I remember a documentary of a big world tour of hers many years ago during which she injured herself belly dancing. Pulled an ab muscle if I remember correctly. She spent a lot of time between performances lying in a semi-fetal position.

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

                🙂 Zumba sounds fun.

              • Merilee
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

                That it most def is😀

              • Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

                Well speaking of “appropriate” Zumba, in one of my favorite films (Thomas Crown Affair), Crown says to the woman who’s onto his euphemism, “do you want to dance or do you want to *dance*?”

                That he can steal paintings in plain sight’s amusing, too. For me that was the value of the pelvis paper; while talking literally about immobility, my thoughts were actively on how to address racism rationally. I can’t credit the author with intentionally designing that outcome though. It appears to have been an artifact of my head; that is, if Holmes crafted an indirect normative argument in the form of “we should address the structural forms of racism” with the pelvis as metaphor, that’d have earned a bravo from me instead of a discussion of unexamined causal assumptions. But the length of the paper argues against this charitable interpretation of pelvis as metaphor.

                The overarching goal of the paper, apart from the pelvis, appears to be to persuade readers that THEY are contributing to structural racism in mundane ways. But I have to argue back that it was ineffectively done, as it comes off more like an accusation or worse, a hoax.

              • merilee
                Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

                Loved The Thomas Crown Affair. Didn’t the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul figuure into it?

  23. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Give me a break! I’ve done Pilates a lot. It’s derived from the exercises you do when you learn ballet and is meant to strengthen the core and build long lean muscles – the kind you use in ballet. Should ballerinas only be white then? Is it wrong for people of colour to engage in ballet? Does the author realize that she is promoting white stereotypes when she says whites don’t move their hips?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      And if Pilates is so terrible, why does she continue to practice and teach it? Shouldn’t she be so wracked by guilt that she can’t continue or something?

      Her hypothesis is absurd and her arguments are not merely weak, they have no basis.

      You stated above she’s reinforcing cultural stereotypes. I’d go so far as to say that she’s inventing stereotypes first, then reinforcing them.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      My Japanese wife goes to Pilates sessions with other Japanese people and a Japanese teacher and has found it very effective in making knee and hip troubles better.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Now that is cogent criticism. Send it via email to Holmes please.

  24. jay
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Some more enlightenment (damn they love hyphenation) from the journal ‘Feminist Theory’


    • jay
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Actually there’s a treasure trove at


      –time you will never get back

      some samples:

      Science, a masculine disorder?

      Hegenomic masculinity at work in the Gay Adult film Industry [According to Milo, gay males, especially white ones are starting to be pushed out of the LGBT world.]

      Color-Blind ideology and the cultural appropriation of Hip Hop.

      Evolutionary biology is ablist and specist.

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 14, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

        I had to click. Arrghhhhh!

  25. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Ironically, Pilates is also meant to make the pelvis more flexible with some of its exercises (I guess that’s why this paper doesn’t mention those ones). I’m sure there will be another paper saying that having a flexible pelvis makes you a racist too.

    • Merilee
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Appropriating African dance.

  26. Ken Phelps
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    It strikes me that certain university faculties are falling into a scenario eerily reminiscent of the “children raising children” problem of young (usually single) parents. AKA the blind leading the blind.

    For a dose of WTF, read some of the alumni bios at UCR:


    • Merilee
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Who knew that foreground was a verb??

    • barn owl
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      “She is currently working on a monograph entitled, She is Cuba: A Genealogy of the Mulata Body, that traces a social dance history of Cuba through the body of the mulata and her corresponding corporeal language of hip(g)nosis.”

      Pelvic movement = traditional ways of knowing. Don’t you erase my lived experience with your Pilates stabilization!

      Also, monograph = let’s hope that indeed there’s only one

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 11, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        Hipgnosis? Hipgnosis (in the person of Storm Thorgerson) was arguably the greatest album cover designer of all time, they did all of Pink Floyd’s covers including the forever classic Dark Side of the Moon


        Has someone been indulging in cultural appropriation? 😦


    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      “She is now an independent scholar and practitioner involved in developing innovative curriculum and pedagogy at the intersection of psychology, anthropology, somatic processing and embodied experiential thinking. She is also dedicated to supporting individuals in processing trauma through an approach that is historically aware, culturally appropriate, and somatically centered.”

      Embodied experiential thinking…

      • Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps she means embodied cognition?

        • Merilee
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          At least she seems to have left out the word quantum…

          • Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            True, but she did work in “intersection.” Not being intersectional, it seems, can be quite problematic.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:25 am | Permalink

        Embodied experiential thinking…

        Probably better than disembodied experiential thinking, though


      • Ken Phelps
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        Swap out a few of the words and you’ve got a typical alt-med CV. Perhaps this stuff should be re-branded as alternative thinking.

  27. Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    It might even surpass Ken Ham’s Ark Park for crazy-ass (henceforward, it should be called the crazy-ass study). The consolation being that tax dollars weren’t used to fund this nonsense, as they were in Northern Kentucky.

  28. Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    It says on the abstract page (I didn’t have the time or inclination to download the whole thing) that this is extracted from the authors doctoral thesis. So there are departments and committees that have signed off on this. Presumably this goes into a job application next. Amazing.

    Now I have to write a sentence to justify why I am not using female mice in a project on prostatic hyperplasia and another on why there are no women in the human patient group. I’m wondering if this organ was appropriated at some point….

    • Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      “Now I have to write a sentence to justify why I am not using female mice in a project on prostatic hyperplasia and another on why there are no women in the human patient group.”

      That’s amazing.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      I would have thought that sentence could have been fairly short and quite satisfyingly sarcastic…


      • Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

        It is not hard to imagine critics complaining that there are many women (Caitlyn Jenner comes to mind) with prostates and that not including them is discriminatory. The mice, on the other hand…

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          Caitlyn Jenner can call himself a woman if he likes. It’s a free world. I can call myself a little green man from Alpha Centauri if I like.

          Reality, on the other hand…


          • merilee
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

            And here I’d though you WERE a little green man from alpha Centauri…Big green man? Small purple man? Purple People Eater?

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted July 13, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink


              I think my (possibly slightly obscurely expressed point) was that, for the purposes of Simon Hayward’s study, it was relevant only to individuals having a prostate and therefore limited to those of the gender we would commonly call ‘male’ (absolutely regardless of how they might self-identify themselves). In fact it could be taken as a defining attribute.

              In the same way as one would limit a study on pregnancy to those commonly identified as ‘female’. Oh dear I feel a Monty Python coming on –


            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted July 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

              p.s. ‘And here I’d though you WERE a little green man from alpha Centauri…Big green man? Small purple man? Purple People Eater?’

              How could anyone tell? I could be an intelligent* virus that has infected this computer.


              *For certain limited definitions of the word ‘intelligent’

              • Merilee
                Posted July 13, 2016 at 5:01 pm | Permalink


  29. naomifein
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water, up pops the post-modernist shark. Again.

  30. Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    One of the things that saddens me about all the “cultural appropriation” stuff is that it seems to drown out any worthwhile studies of (for example) cultural diffusion.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Seems like the line between “cultural appropriation” and ideas like “popularity” or “acceptance” or “in the mainstream” is so thin as to be largely imaginary.

  31. Albert Habichdobinge
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Took me a while to figure out that this article wasn’t about Pontius Pilate being a white supremacist.

    • Tom
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Same here… I must get more sleep!

  32. Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Had humanity not had the smarts to culturally appropriate good stuff, we’d still be in the trees or caves. As we’ve moved around and encountered others, we’ve culturally appropriated, and it’s not a bad thing. For example,Stuffed Grape Leaves are prepared all over the Mediterranean with accommodations made
    for local tastes. I prefer the Armenian version over the Greek or Turkish versions.

    Second thought: More screening is needed in regards to doctoral theses topics that are approved. I know it’s difficult to come up with theses topics that haven’t already been done but, when ridiculous topics are considered worth such effort, maybe it’s time to revise the whole concept of doctoral theses or jettison it entirely. These kinds of theses make the universities from which they originate a laughingstock (not to mention the authors.)

    • GBJames
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      I suspect the thesis problem is confined to certain disciplines where these topics are not viewed as ridiculous, despite the fact that they recognizably absurd to people with more scientific (broadly construed) orientations.

      Then again, I’m admittedly hip-stabilized and privileged.

    • Sastra
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      “Cultural appropriation” is usually the predecessor to cultural acceptance, I think. When they’re making tacos for school lunches, they’re no longer trying to run those foreigners and their non-American restaurants with their non-American food out of town. How would it be better if the Others continued to remain the Other, so that adopting their ways was anathema to the mainstream?

      As for those academic authorities who apparently signed off on this particular doctoral thesis, I can’t help but suspect that they were just curious to see how the hell she was going to do that.

  33. Simon
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Whole post is a waste of letters. Could all have been covered by “Sarah W. Holmes has a PhD in Critical Dance Studies”.

  34. keith cook + / -
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    While she was at it Holmes could have looked into why white men can’t jump and I think she would have found sex would have been at the bottom of both phenomenon. Minimal movement is desired, gyrating is perverse and uncivilised and it keeps the noise down.
    The exercise of pelvis stillness is just another way of saying, keep your knees together until the appropriate time presents itself e.g. marriage, possibly happy with loose hips down by the river or in the wheat field.
    The outstretched pinkie whilst drinking tea is also another class/race divider that needs more research…

  35. Doug
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Why isn’t it cultural appropriation for a white person to complain about racism? That’s a black thing!

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:24 am | Permalink

      MY mother was born in Finland. Not Scandinavia.
      I have pale skin. Am I caucasiam? Or a person of color, without color?

      • Helen Hollis
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:29 am | Permalink

        Apologize for spelling caucasion

        • Helen Hollis
          Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:35 am | Permalink

          No government benefits for Finnish born

          • Helen Hollis
            Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:38 am | Permalink

            I apologize for mispelling and generally bad mood

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 12, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        And does white only mean “anglo-saxon” as I think it’s being used here because you could argue that Indians, Iranians and definitely Hispanics are caucasian or indo-european

  36. Debbie Coplan
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m almost speechless on this paper.
    It is truly bizarre, and offensive.
    I wonder what she thinks of various modern dance companies…so if they move their hips in any way, are they racist?

  37. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one who thinks of Zahvi’s handicap principle whenever they hear the phrase “virtue signalling”?

    Any schmo can signal their virtue by saying something sensible. To really make it clear you’re one of the elect, you have to say something you know is daft – or at least something where you run the risk of being mocked.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Like when you see a white guy in the corporate world with tattoos, dreds and messy clothes to contrast against the suits. And your pal says, “he’s not that good that he can dress like that.”

  38. Posted July 11, 2016 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Postmodernism disrobed. https://yandoo.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/postmodernism-disrobed/

  39. Roo
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Crap! My cat is appropriating the swiveling hip movements of other cultures RIGHT NOW. I keep telling her to sit in a less racist way and also like she’s not made of a bag of jelly beans, but she’s a species-ist and has absolutely no respect for me. How do I contact this woman? Maybe she can talk some sense into her.

  40. steve
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Never heard of Tai Chi (Wu style) where strength in the hips (and its movement and flexibility) ,among other things, is paramount. That paper’s author isn’t racist, only ignorant.

  41. Gary
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    So is the 100m sprint is racist against white people?

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 4:11 am | Permalink

      As if anyone knows the details of your revelation of an ordinary 100m sprint.
      Most people understand the wbo,what, when before asking.

  42. Geoffrey Howe
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    If you want to figure out who is racist, look for the first person to bring race into a discussion.

  43. Mike
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I often wonder what Planet these people are living on,? because it sure as shit isn’t this one.

  44. Richard
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of a New Yorker piece on a feminist “reshaping” of Wikipedia:


    Apparently, the fact that more men enjoy editing Wikipedia than women do makes Wikipedia patriarchal and/or chauvenist.

    • Cindy
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes and you cannot *force* women to take up certain professions in the name of gender equality. If women don’t want to work in construction, for example, they shouldn’t have to, and the lack of 50% women in the construction industry is not evidence of female oppression.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      So cars are irredeemably chauvinist and patriarchal?

      (How many women mechanics are there…?)


  45. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Just watched the video. Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh.

    But I feel obliged to register a token protest at the blatant cultural appropriation of Polynesian dance styles.

    Mrs ii, on the other hand, approves. (Cook Islanders would be baffled if anyone tried to explain ‘cultural appropriation’ to them, they regard any imitation, even the pathetic attempts of foreign tourists on ‘Island night’, as a positive recognition that their dancing is worth the effort).


  46. Posted July 12, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Alright, so after analyzing all of this, what strikes me about former reader John’s emphasis on “defending” art is that tons of attention were redirected from what was important about this discussion: racism.

    It’s perverse to claim that Holmes paper was making a subjective display of race relations when topic was about literal forms. Racism is REAL.

  47. jumpedupchimpanzee
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    All black people have to dance and gyrate their hips while doing everything. It is known.

  48. Bernie Nunn
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Now let’s get a few things straight. Number one,God is white. Everybody knows that. All pictures taken of him show he’s white. Also,he’s old- that long gray/white beard shows that conclusively. Number 2: he does not believe in fun, as all those poor bastards in the Olde Testament found out over and over. Next, we all know the first humans he made were white, and the blacks of course came out of the oven that way because He left them in too long.
    We know this of course because the Bible tells us so, and once again, look at all his pictures.Number 4: I’ve gotten sort of lost here, but I think we’re talking about stiff hipped white folk, and swaying sashaying black women. Well, what’s the point? Of course that’s true. You got your basic uptight, stiff ass whitey, and your loosey goosey hip swaying blacky. like #47 jumpedupchimpanzee above says “All blacks have to dance and gyrate their hips while doing everything. It is known.”
    What crackerjack box did that lady get her degree out of?

  49. Emily
    Posted July 12, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    For the record,I was certified by Romana(Joseph Pilates’ successor) and never once heard her use the phrase “pelvic stabilization”. I’m sure she would think this is all nonsense and say every “body” is different and each client has different needs. She talked about the core or “powerhouse” ( is that racist?) and told us to pull in our tummies and get on with it!

  50. Posted July 12, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    It just dawned on me that Regressives in the humanities are EXCEPTIONALISTS: their *splaining* views are exempt criticism because their virtue signaling marks them as dominant, right, and protected under the sheath of “art.”

  51. Posted July 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Another Pilates instructor weighing in here…

    Been practicing Pilates since I was 10 years old. Am currently 36. There are many, many, many interpretations of the method at this point; however, the general consensus is that Pilates (originally called “Contrology” by Joseph Pilates himself) is simply a method of corrective strength training that utilizes gravity, body weight, and spring resistance as the load instead of barbells or dumbbells in order to

    1.) restore and stabilize (not synonymous with “immobilize”) the neutral curvature(s) to the spine (although Joseph thought that a neutral spine was a straight line, we have since learned that an anatomically neutral spine has 3 distinct curves corresponding with the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions of the spine) by mobilizing the spine in all planes of movement, creating symmetry and balance in muscular strength

    2.) create mobility in the spine and peripheral joints (strong, stable core = better ROM and function in shoulders, hips, etc.)

    3.)control movements in all planes of motion in all phases of movement

    4.)establish and/or strengthen the neuromuscular (“mind/body”) connection to correct improper muscle firing patterns in movement

    Contrology was originally created for men – Pilates trained boxers and police officers in Germany. Once Joseph moved to New York and opened his studio there, the local dance community recognized the benefit of this type of work for their profession, and the evolution of the method began, leading to what we see as the “stereotypical” Pilates instructor and millions of people who just want to look like their instructor.

    So…the claim that current practices in Pilates strive to “immobilize” the pelvis is, in my understanding, dead wrong. If anything, it’s the opposite. We’re trying to create functional movement of ALL the joints in the body. We WANT to create movement by training the body to simultaneously stabilize *and* mobilize various regions.

    Also…my clients currently and have always comprised all genders (implied here that we recognize more than two genders), socioeconomic statuses, races, ages, and professions.

  52. Eddy Elmer
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    John seems to forget that once something is published in an academic journal, it’s publicly available and open to scrutiny by anyone, regardless of their field or background. So long as our tax or tuition dollars pay to have journals like this sit on library shelves, we can criticize their contents as much as we want. If academics don’t want their ideas criticized, then they can go to a bar and discuss them privately instead of publishing them.

  53. Posted July 14, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    To my horror, I awoke at 3am thinking about Tr*mp, this paper, and former reader John’s comment that this paper couldn’t have possibly been making causal claims because they obviously didn’t do an experiment.

    Well, you don’t have to listen to the D*n*ld long to glean an earful of rampantly erroneous causal thinking.

    Pilates embodying racism not a causal claim? My left metatarsus!

    I’m angry. I’m angry that discourse in the humanities can get so narcissistically enraptured with itself that it self-congratulates about race (uses race to signal its virtue) and makes the problem of racism look trivial. This is a moral failure.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Honestly, Charleen, chill. Stupidity, like shit, happens. It’s worthy of contempt and derision but really not worth losing sleep over. Everybody* on this blog agrees it’s rubbish.

      *to a first approximation


      P.S. Just to clarify. The humanities are worth losing sleep over. This sort of nonsense isn’t.

      • Posted July 17, 2016 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Ya, I know. But I’m in the thick of it at a University where this sort of racism-trivializing bafflegab is praised and passed off as pious dogmata. Most of my comments are directed at the few people who agree with Holmes who happen to wander here. It’s literally not safe for me to voice my contempt of the stupidity infiltrating the humanities at my current university. I’d alienate half my colleagues if I tried or I’d get splained and sent to a corner to think about it. Jerry posting this was like a having a seismic weight lifted off my shoulders.

        • Merilee
          Posted July 17, 2016 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

          Splained till your brain was sprained??

          • Posted July 18, 2016 at 8:27 am | Permalink

            Seriously. I had a dream about it.

            I’m scaling the wall of a desert cliff. As I reach the top, the dirt begins to tear away and I can feel that I’m about to fall. There are three people at the top. I plead with them to take my hand and help me over. Instead, they splain to me the shoulds and etiquette of getting to the top. One reaches out his hand but weakly. He continues to lecture me about how he couldn’t possibly exert himself due to the rules. The grip fails and I plummet backwards hundreds of feet, landing in sand and sinking into a temporary sand igloo. There is air for only a few seconds before the igloo fills with sand and I suffocate/wake up.

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