The gender neutral terms ‘followers’ and ‘leaders’ are typically used to denote people who follow a particular roles while dancing.
Although majority of people fall into traditional gender roles i.e women follow and men lead, there are several examples where people would not fit into the conventional roles esp LGBT dancers. Overall, people should be free to follow whatever role they chose. Men can chose to follow, while women can chose to lead.
And therefore, it comes off as a bit regressive when during a class/workshop when the instructor asks girls to be on a particular side of the room for the purpose of following.
It makes much more sense to call people followers and leaders during class when referring to these roles. That way we don’t sieve people into gender roles if they may chose otherwise.
Good dancers, esp trainers typically can engage in both roles and if you want to become a great dancer, you should definitely learn the other role.
Having said that, I have often heard of people referring to dancers as followers/leaders outside of the context of dance environment. For example, one may sometime say I was talking to this follower and she said …
This is wrong because in this case what the person clearly meant to say was: “I was talking to this girl and she said..”
Using follower (or leader) to classify the gender of a person falls into the same trap that the terms were invented to avoid in the first place.
You are hereby assuming that girls should follow while women should lead
Another example would be: I am coming with three leaders. Are leaders allowed to enter into the club solo? (Referring to the couple entry criteria in a particular club)
As a rule of thumb, the use of the term depends on which one conveys more information in the context. Referring to someone as a follower in the context of dancing is great but outside of it, its sexist since it assigns them a gender role
This article is not saying that the terms: leader and follower should be avoided altogether. They should only be used in the context of dancing and where obscuring the gender of the person conveys more information(again context).