So, this last week, Facebook has been buzzing with very angry pole dancers responding to Swansea University Student’s Union (SUSU) deciding to ban its Pole Dancing Society for assorted reasons. These reasons included its role in the promotion of the raunch culture and its vague and ridiculous links with violence and sexual violence against women. Normally I ignore people being demeaning about pole but for some reason this got me thinking and then it got me annoyed. The reasons in SUSU’s decision included women being unknowingly drawn into the sex industry. They made statements about wanting to forward women’s rights and yet appeared to be taking large steps to undermine them. The concept that we are somehow so vulnerable that we can be duped and therefore must be protected goes back to the days before we had the vote and were all wearing full length gowns and corsets.
Pole means a lot to me. In the times when the rest of my life is falling down around my ears, pole is my sanctuary. I am very clear about who I am and what I want from doing pole. I have 3 degrees, all in psychology. I find the notion that I am being groomed somehow to be rather offensive. In doing pole dancing, I have found new levels of confidence in myself as a person and in my body. I love competing and performing. My performances tend to be more towards the artsy/dance side of things and I don’t believe that any of my performances have lead to anything negative for anybody who has seen them or to me.
There is a huge debate going on in pole about sport vs. heels (often referred to as stripper style). I don’t generally dance in heels; I’ve done half a routine wearing them but generally prefer the lines from being barefoot. However, I’ve been considering starting to do some training in heels as it’s harder to invert in them so I think it would improve that and also there are some poses which are just more easily achieved in heels (ballerina is on my to do list). I’ve even contemplated doing a more burlesque style routine while wearing heels. Should I feel guilty about this? Am I doing something to stereotype women in this act? I think not.
One of the things I love the most about pole dancing is how it allows people to express their individual identities. Some people are sporty, some people like big heels, some are strong, some are bendy. Bottom line is we’re all different. I have to be controversial and say that if a woman wants to be sexy then that’s ok. Female sexuality is not something to be afraid of. I spent a lot of time hating the way I looked, hating my body and wanting to hide. So if I want to chuck on a pair of heels and turn myself upside down on a pole then that is my right and I will exercise it. What has been particularly positive has been how different sections of the pole community have come together to defend what we do.
On the flip side of all this controversy. A pole dancer doing very well on Australia’s got talent. The great debate continues!
What do you think about it all?