Tonight I saw a posting on my Facebook page. It was a link to an article about a children’s pole fitness class. Some people are up in arms about the classes because they feel that they will be sexualizing children. As a child psychologist, Dr. Derek Swain, stated, he worried about the association with the sex industry and the fact that it could “increase the likelihood of girls becoming strippers when they’re older.”
I must admit that my initial gut reaction is to feel the same way. Dr. Swain is right that this activity is associated with the adult entertainment industry. That should make anyone nervous when the activity is being taught to children. But, many times our initial reactions must be examined to fully understand why we feel this way.
When I think about why I worry about this, its not because I actually see anything wrong with what these kids are doing. The dance that they are taught is not sexual in any way. It is only society’s filters that are making it sexual in any way. In fact, pole dancing can be quite athletic and beautiful. I have seen people of both sexes perform moves with a pole that display incredible strength, athleticism, and an artistic talent comparable to many great dancers. In fact, a friend of mine who has studied pole fitness has created a documentary about pole fitness called Pole Life. Here is a long trailer that shows much of the beauty and talent that are involved in this art.
After watching this video, how can you not see how beautiful this is. I associate this with some of the most beautiful dance that I have ever seen. There is nothing sexual about this unless we apply a filter to it that society has told us has to be applied. Apply this test. Watch a few minutes of this video of some professional aerialists perform.
Did you notice something? There was nothing sexual about that show. It was a beautiful ballet performed by aerialists. The performers in Cirque du Soleil have become world-renowned for the beauty and skill that they display in their shows. These people make a living doing something very similar to what many people can only associate with strippers and sex. So maybe its not that there is anything concerning at all with the pole itself. Maybe the problem exists within society. Maybe its how we judge…and the fact that we judge…something that doesn’t deserve to be given the stigma that we give pole dancing.
I could go one and on giving examples of how this can be a beautiful artform. But I think there is only one example I need. Go back to the Pole Life video and start at 4:25 and watch about 25 seconds. Seriously…go watch it. Did you see the joy in the faces of the children as they spun, danced, and climbed? How could anyone apply anything sexual or wrong to the fun that these children are having? What’s more, they are getting great exercise. That is important in a society that has an obesity epidemic that is reaching critical levels.
After analyzing the situation, I think my initial reaction was wrong. There is nothing at all wrong with this artform unless it is used in an inappropriate manner. The fact is that there is an entire subculture of pole aerialists that has developed. These are not strippers or deviants. They are people who have discovered the beauty in an artform and sport that many of us have not yet come to accept. Instead of taking it from me. Check out the Pole Life documentary. Watch the trailer, learn something. You might just discover something about how you look at the world…you may even find a love for a sport that will help you get in shape and express yourself in a way that nothing else has.
With the exception of the Cirque du Soleil video, the images and videos in this post are all from the Pole Life documentary and Facebook page. Please visit and support Pole Life The Documentary and spread word about the documentary. I am not in any way affiliated with the production.