The Anti-Dirty Dance: Teens Say No to Grinding

More and more teens are "just saying no" to the "grinding" dirty dancing trend

August 16, 2011, 8:37 AM

Aug. 16, 2011 -- Jenna Mourey has a singular move to ward off unwanted attention on the dance floor.

"A guy comes up to you, starts dancing on you, you turn around and you give him one of these [weird faces]," she told "Good Morning America." "The trick is you don't say anything the whole time. You stand there, frozen, and don't change your face."

With that, the 24-year-old from East Cambridge, Mass., has launched an assault against "grinding," the type of dirty-style dancing that mimics sex.

"I'm sick and tired of guys thinking that just because I showed up at a club or a dance or a bar, that I want to have their genitalia touching my backside," Mourey said.

The Web site Urban Dictionary describes grinding as, "Basically the boy gets behind the girl, puts his hands on her hips, and they rock from side to side. It's supposed to mimic sex, and the teachers hate it."

It's been popularized in pop culture from racy music videos to movies such as "Knocked Up" to frequent appearances on the MTV reality show "Jersey Shore."

But now there appears to be the beginning of a backlash against the dance move, with young girls, their parents and schools in states from Minnesota to Maine to California, just saying no.

"The positive message is that women and young girls are taking ownership over their own bodies and saying 'this is a violation of my personal space and I'm not okay with it," said Dr. Logan Levkoff, a New York City-based sexologist, today on "GMA."

If anyone is at the forefront of the current anti-grinding movement it's Mourey. Call her Gloria Steinem, for the 21st, wired century.

After receiving both a bachelor's and a master's in sports psychology at Suffolk University in Boston, Mourey took her anti-grinding campaign to YouTube, where she goes by the name "Jenna Marbles," and where her videos have gone viral.

Millions are watching her series of video blogs that creatively instruct girls how to fend off annoying grinders. One posted this year has been viewed more than 9 million times alone.

"I made the video as a fool proof defense mechanism against that [grinding]," Mourey said. "It's disgusting. I don't really want to have fake sex with you."

Anti-Grinding Grabs Hold

Grinding, originally called "freak dancing," first gained popularity when it appeared in music videos and on spring break specials on MTV in the 1980s.

Levkoff, says that, despite its increasingly negative connotation in pop culture today, the racy dance move is not necessarily a bad thing.

"It's important to acknowledge that grinding is one healthy way of sexual expression, if it is consensual," she told "GMA." "This is certainly not something new. People have been doing it for a long time."

"If it's non-consensual, then it's a violation of personal space and it feels very uncomfortable and threatening," she said.

ABC News assembled a panel of four 21-year-old females and one 21-year-old male to see how prevalent, or unwanted, grinding really is, in their worlds.

The females were unanimous in saying that people tried to grind on them every time they go out.

"Usually the type to come up to you and grind are like the sweaty type that you don't really want to dance with," one female panelist said.

Levkoff, also the author of the book "Third Base Ain't What It Used to Be," says this type of grinding is where the trouble begins, and the point at which women must take a stand.

"We're all entitled to speak up," she said. "That's why friends are so important. I would never tell someone to go to a club by themselves."

Mourey says the technique she sells on YouTube is simple, and can be done on your own.

"You don't look around and don't talk to your friends. You just stand there," she said. "Then they might get a little angry, like 'dude, what's your problem,' but just stand there."

Levkoff argues, however, that woman should use their voices to say no to unwanted moves on the dance floor, not their bodies.

I don't think you need to make the crazy face," Levkoff said. "I think that we need to own our voice and say 'thank you but I'm not interested in dancing with you,' or just say 'no thanks,' or, if it gets too much, you pick up and you walk away and you don't put yourself in a position where you're doing something that you don't want to consent to."

None of the ABC panelists had yet tried Mourey's technique, but the male member of the panel, for one, was confident it would work.

"It'd scare me," he said. "I haven't seen any girls actually do it, but I'm pretty sure it would work pretty effectively."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events