Once or twice a year, the pole dance industry gets into an argument about where pole dance came from and if it is a legitimate sport. There are some in the industry who are trying to get pole dance in the Olympics and pole dancers constantly fight negativity on the Internet which affects how pole dance is perceived. Changing the perception of pole dance is not an easy thing to do. Because of the treatment of women in this country and pole dance’s influence from the sex industry, unfortunately there might be a negative perception of it for a very long time, however change can start. If people understood and can articulate how awesome pole dance is for women and men then maybe we can move away from the stigma of it.
I have written before about the history of pole dance. Pole dance fitness as we know it was started in the 1990s by a woman named Fawnia. She held the first pole dance class for everyday women and is considered to be the mother of the industry. Pole dance fitness is about empowerment, sensuality, strength and a lot of other things. It is not about getting paid to do any of these things for patrons. As dancers in the industry, we can totally say what pole dance does for us without dismissing its history and shaming current dancers. Bad example: “Yeah I take pole dance classes but I don’t get naked because strippers are nasty.” Good example: “Yeah I take pole dance classes! It is a lot of fun and I feel great about myself!” If we have people in the industry shaming women for their profession, we are never going to get anywhere and pole dancing will always be “dirty.”
It can be extremely challenging to talk to men about pole dancing because men are stubborn (joking, kind of) but because of the perception men have about sex workers. This is a societal issue which can’t be tackled by just us pole dancers but we can help! I constantly explain to guys that my pole dancing isn’t for the consumption of men when they assume it is. If I had a dollar for every time a guy has referenced their penis in relation to a pole, I wouldn’t need a business, seriously. When guys ask for me to dance on their “pole” I politely decline and recommend the strip club. Men need to understand there are women who dance on the pole who have no desire to be paid for lap dances. We have got to stand up to them and correct them. I have gotten wittier over the years in regards to comebacks but I am not no longer afraid to put these fellows in their place!
Sharing your videos online is a great way to change how people view pole dancing. I admit I used to be super nervous about posting my videos and there weren’t nearly as many ways to do it. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc were new or not in existence when I first started pole dancing and now we have so many ways to share content and videos! My mother hates it but I really don’t care anymore. I am not ashamed about what I do nor do care what people think about me. If dancers continue to hide from it like pole dancing is something bad then it will always be bad. A lot of my close friends and family know me so they know why I am doing what I am doing so I get a lot of respectful and tasteful comments but every once in a while someone says something out of line and I question whether or not I should have posted. And the answer is no. I should never question what I post or what people are going to think about my pole dancing.
I know we have a lot of work to do in this country about how we perceive women and their sensuality. Traditionally women who are sexually open and not afraid to show their body have been called not so nice names. We should be able to try any kind of activity without fear of judgement but it honestly starts with you. If you are still judging yourself or questioning or hiding your pole dancing, you should ask yourself why. In order to change the perception of the industry, we have to change how we view ourselves and we can’t be afraid to talk about it. I can’t wait for the day when I see pole dancers post a video every day shouting from the mountain tops how much they love pole dancing. Until that day comes I will take the heat and work every day to change the perception of pole dance fitness.