Update: Psychologist Replies to Pole Dancers
After Psychologist, Goal Auzeen Saedi, wrote a blog about the controversial topic of pole dance empowering women, the pole community was quick to react. As with most blogs or articles written about pole dancing, the writer received tons of comments, videos and opinions about her opinions. After deleting some comments that she found “taunting, attacking, inflammatory, etc.”, she responded with this: “Hi Ladies and Gents, I’ve debated whether or not to post a reply to this thread as I’ve read plenty of personally attacking and angry remarks. However, given that some of the early comments were truly insightful, authentic, and kind, I’d like to be courteous to those whose comments were such in the first place. I think it was Diana and Becca who shared videos of their own performances. Thank you for sharing your artistic and highly challenging routines. I think it is in fact through showcasing the various (and often under-represented) aspects of pole that we can come to see it in a new light. I certainly saw aspects of gymnastics (which I grew up loving) and ballet (which I’ve danced myself) in these performances. On a more general note, I think it’s important to remember a few key things. Articles on Psychology Today are blogs- they are not empirical literature to be cited. Hence, very few articles are going to provide you with a lengthy historical account and various positions on any topic. It’s just not practical. One of my colleagues once put it so aptly-it’s not a dissertation, it’s a blog. What this forum can provide however is a means of opening up dialogue. How do opinions change? The first step is in admitting biases we hold. This is like if one were to say they are homophobic. They might say they are uncomfortable with same sex partnerships. If you immediately start attacking this person saying, “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM” in all caps and “you’re the reason for the stigma!!!” and so forth, what’s going to happen? They are most likely going to become more defensive and more rigid in their thinking. It’s the idea of polarization. Interestingly, the comments on this thread started off thought-provoking but then took on the flavor of the very shaming that I was being accused of….questioning the author’s comfort with sexuality, motivations for writing this article and so forth are a whole host of assumptions that has little relevance, or frankly truth in the matter. Also, I don’t control media portrayals of pole-that is a much larger film/music industry concern. So what was the point of this piece? Exactly what I said it was. I found a gym that looks awesome. I thought it was interesting that pole classes were so heavy on the schedule. One of the first commentors and reader of this blog shared she understood that various gyms market these classes differently. My particular gym seemed heavier on the striptease aspect. I certainly have a right to feel uncertain about this. If I were at a gymnastics studio and pole was part of the training, perhaps it’d feel different. Regardless, if I were so incredibly hateful toward pole, I would flat-out refuse to go this gym altogether, wouldn’t I? And I wouldn’t bother writing an article asking readers to help me see the other side. I pointed out my biases so individuals could see where I was coming from rather than pretending to be an “expert” which I never claimed to be. In any case, thank you to the commentors who were respectful, polite, and thoughtful. You are the ones that can help to change perceptions. Getting angry, blaming, defensive is not the key to changing anyone’s mind. Yes, comments are sometimes removed at the editors’ discretion if comments are taunting, attacking, inflammatory, etc. Imagine, you write an article saying, “you know what, I’m not really into Chia seeds” and wind up with 40 responses to the tone of, “how dare you, ruining the reputation of a perfectly fine seed!” Now those of you with a sense of humor may see what I’m getting at. Those of you who just became angrier- well maybe it’s not about me and this one article at all…. While it’s impossible to reply to every single aspect of comments brought up, I do want to acknowledge the men on this site who spoke up. My apologies for passing you over completely. This was not my intention. As my column is typically on the popular media, I was referencing the ubiquitous image of women on poles, stripping down for men. This is something that just goes against my values system, and frankly there is no rule anywhere that we must all abide by the same one. I think someone sent a robot-inspired male pole routine and I definitely saw much creativity there. Also, I’d like to note that typically if I reply to threads at all, I reply once as it’s been my experience in the past that some enjoy arguing on the blogosphere for the sheer sake of arguing which I do not engage in. Thanks all!” Sometimes, it’s easy to get riled up over someone else’s close minded opinions. What we have to remember as a community is that if we respond intelligently and thoughtfully, we will come out on top. Please keep in mind when responding to something you don’t like, that sometimes being close minded doesn’t mean you are ignorant to an idea. Sometimes, it can mean that your closed off to other people’s feelings as well. Fortunately, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we thank you for continuing to share yours with UPA!