A dance video went viral on Wednesday of a group of dancers performing in a location and manner a chorus of Conservative lawmakers condemned as “inappropriate”.
The dance troupe 101 Doll Squadron were hired by the Royal Australian Navy to perform a raunchy routine at a commissioning ceremony on Saturday for a new ship, HMAS Supply.
Tabloids splashed headlines slamming military standards. Others condemned the dancers, labelling their routine “too sexualised”.
That in turn sparked backlash over the policing of women’s bodies.
It also emerged the video clip had been edited by the ABC to make it appear naval top brass had been watching the dance when in fact they had not even arrived at that time.
The navy said none of the officials or dignitaries, such as the governor-general, had seen the performance.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “standards have failed” and criticised the ABC’s “misreporting”.
Video showed the rest of the event continued at a slower pace, featuring typical pomp and ceremony: brass band performances; formal speeches; ranks of sailors saluting and marching in lockstep. No twerking apparent.
Senator Jacqui Lambie, an army veteran, called it “an absolute shocker” of a decision from military leadership.
“Good on those young ladies for getting out there, but I tell you, being half-clothed outside a warship is probably inappropriate,” she said.
101 Doll Squadron are a community dance squad with members from indigenous and multi-racial backgrounds. They specialise in reggae, afrobeats, and hip hop. The group is more commonly hired for parties and hen nights.
Members of the group accused the ABC of “deceptive editing” to falsely include shots of military guests and dignitaries in the video which included “shooting from angles which could not be seen by the audience”.
“We found this very creepy and reflects more on ABC camera operators and their need to sexualise these women and their dance piece for their own gratification,” their statement read.
They said they had been subjected to trolling and attacks online and felt “threatened and exploited” as a result of the attention.
Australian women’s site Mamamia wrote: “It’s the Royal Australian Navy that made it bizarre. It’s the Royal Australian Navy that turned their art form into something to ridicule.
“At the end of the day, these women were just doing their job.”