Children and Pole Dancing….What’s the Big Deal?
I was on the subway a few weeks ago and there were two young girls riding in the same train car as me. They were prancing around one of the poles usually reserved for standing passengers to hold if need be. Giggling uncontrollably they spun in circles around the metal object. Other than playing at a slightly obnoxious volume, I saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. There were people on the train that clearly thought they were acting inappropriately though. And volume had nothing to do with their judgments.
The subject of children pole dancing has been debated and mocked for awhile now. Anderson Cooper spoke out against it on his talk show. Most of the general public if asked at random agrees it is not OK. I even recently watched a YouTube video of a prank call made to a “local pole studio” making fun of it. The phony caller asked if he could bring his daughter to try a class. Commentators on the video thought the idea of that was hilarious.
Those same people would not find the concept so hilarious if they watched 10-year-old Olga Trifonova pole dance. A video of the exceptionally talented pole dancer from The World Pole Sports Championships 2013 has recently gone viral. When it came out, many in the pole community marveled at her stamina, her strength, her flexibility… I knew those outside our world would see it differently.
What those who are so defiantly against children pole dancing cannot offer is a clear explanation why. Most will respond that it just “isn’t right.” What isn’t right? What is actually taking place or what sick and twisted version of reality these people have swiveling around in their brains? Here are some of the most common arguments against children pole dancing and my responses to those complaints….
1. It is sexual and anything sexual shouldn’t involve children.
I agree that young children should never be involved in sexual situations. But pole dancing doesn’t have to be sexual. Sure it can be, but so can any form of dance. If traditional dance is OK for children to participate in why is pole not? Also, if children perform pole in a completely acrobatic and nonsexual way how can it be interpreted as sexual?
2. Strippers do it so young children shouldn’t.
Some strippers pole dance. All strippers strip. This is an important and often lost basic distinction. Pole dancing or pole fitness is a sport and art. At national competitions and professional performances you will never see competitors or performers getting naked. Strippers dance as well, so should children not do that?
3. Opening legs up into splits is inappropriate for children to do.
Ever watched the Olympics? Ever seen what young boys and girls from around the world do on a horizontal bar? Why is that same body position on a vertical pole any different? Have you seen a ballet or dance competition? Children who pole dance are doing the exact same moves that dancers as young as three do there. If you see something inappropriate or sexual in something completely not so, maybe your perception is what’s wrong.
4. I don’t see anything wrong with it but what if some pervert out there started attending competitions with children competing?
I wonder what dance or gymnastic competitions do to prevent entry of potential pedophiles…You can’t shield children in a protective bubble.
With all that said, you will not find me at the forefront of any fight to allow children the right to pole dance free from judgment any time soon. Do I think fearing a pervert may misconstrue something completely nonsexual to be sexual ridiculous? Yes of course. We could never let children out in public if that were literally the case. I do acknowledge that pole dancing has a history and association with stripping so I can see how there is grey area to those who are uninformed. I will defend it but at the same time I’m not going to be opening up a children’s pole dance studio any time soon.
I also don’t agree with rigorous training for young children in general for any sport or activity. If a child has an exceptional gift I see the inclination towards training to compete at a professional level. But this type of time commitment undoubtedly detracts from a carefree childhood. Maybe that’s what the child wants in some cases, but usually there is pressure coming from different angles and that is not healthy. They are also too immature at a young age to make such a life altering decision.
General disapproval of this subject is more about personal issues individuals themselves have than the activity that is taking place. It’s about ignorant judgment and labeling. Have you been to a playground lately? One that is located on countless public school grounds across the country? If you have you may have noticed a vertical apparatus located there that many also refer to as a pole. Don’t you remember how fun it was as a kid to swing on the monkey bars, climb the jungle gym, flip yourself upside down and spin on the merry-go-round until you were nauseous? Playing around on a pole feels so much like that to me and brings me back to those times.
Are we really against children playing with poles under all circumstances? Let’s commission to have all these poles removed then….Come on, people! It’s a piece of metal. It’s completely what you make it to be.
***The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of United Pole Artists.