This post is part of a for and against debate, for the other side of the debate visit Pole dancing is sexualised and cannot be otherwise.
On 2nd February the Pole Dancing Society committee was made aware of an NUS brief being circulated to the NUS women’s officers across the country by a ‘whistle blower’.
The brief was encouraging their women’s officers to disband existing pole dance societies because they are a ‘recruiting ground for the sex industry’ after one quote by the VP of White Rhino was taken out of all proportion. The brief was met with anger and disappointment.
We are used to defending our choice to learn and engage in pole dancing, and we don’t deny its history in the sex industry. However, in the past five years it has moved away from the stereotypical seedy image and is being seen as more of a sport. Pole dancers require strength, flexibility and endurance – how does that make it any different from other sports?
The point is regularly made that we train in ‘skimpy clothes’, however, for the advanced moves we need to have more skin on show so that we can grip onto the pole whilst inverted (upside down)! A sports crop top and shorts are no different to what I wear to the gym and what my friends train in for athletics and other sports.
Ask any pole dancer and they will tell you that there are two subgroups in pole dancing; the pole grinders and the pole dancers. This doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t fantastic pole dancers working in clubs; if they are able to do complicated tricks and display immense strength it doesn’t matter what the environment is.
I have been pole dancing for nearly five years now and have been approached once or twice by clubs offering me a dance position. It makes business sense to have someone trained in their clubs rather than someone who doesn’t have a clue.
It was also explained to me that they could charge more if the dancer has more experience. But each time I have turned them down because that isn’t why I pole dance. I love that it’s constantly changing so you can never know it all and there is always something new to learn.
I love that it gives women (and men!) body confidence because curves are celebrated in pole dancing – this is because it makes some moves easier. This is the opposite of other dance styles in my experience (I have a strong dance background).
Personally I am very proud to be a pole dancer, so much so that I created the Pole Dancing Society here at the University of Portsmouth. We have had a massive amount of interest and managed to get 70 members in our first year, with more expected next year. We have a good relationship with the Union and work hard to maintain a good image of the club.
The NUS aimed to catch us off guard and have since taken down the brief from their website after a coordinated response from other pole dance society presidents, myself included, who contacted them to make them aware of their ignorance.
The NUS states that it represents all students in UK higher education, but after they singled out pole dance societies and their members it can only be assumed that they only represent those that fit into their norms and values.
Pole dancing is becoming more mainstream and if people still believe that it objectifies women and is an example of the sexualisation of society then I invite them to a practice session to give it a go themselves.
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