"Belly Dance in Patriarchy: The Switzerland of the Soul," by Andrea Deagon on The Gilded Serpent, offers a considered view of many of fallacies consistent in the current belly dance scene. The use of goddess imagery is questioned, the uncomfortable conundrum between being drawn to belly dance for its acceptance of body types and learning quickly that what sells is typical slender good looks that meet a stereotype, the "dumbing down" of belly dance as it becomes more popular, and the belly dance scene's commodity driven belittling of Arab culture.
An excerpt: Also, we unfairly deny this sort of aesthetic expression to men in our own culture. We fail to acknowledge the aesthetics of the Arab world that created this dance, and we do that all-too-colonial thing: we feminize the Arab “Other,” which, in the metaphor of all patriarchies, aligns him with inherent flaws and inevitable defeat. In claiming that Belly dance is fundamentally feminine, we truthfully reflect the often-empowering ideals of our own culture. However, we also we fall prey to the limitations our patriarchy imposes on both genders, limit our own freedom of expression, exclude men, and repress Arabs all in one fell swoop. Deagon has several articles published in The Gilded Serpent that are well worth reading. Check out the Serpent!