There Is No Stigma Attached To Pole Dancing

The pole community has been experiencing a lot of criticism recently. A number of people have been frustrated (some frankly p*ssed off!) with the bad press we have been receiving from certain organisations and blogs – I don’t wish to give them any further promotion or traffic, so won’t be linking or naming them directly, but you KNOW who I’m talking about. Now, I’m all about positivity in my life, so I won’t pass direct comment on that (who needs the grief?) – I would rather focus my energy and invest my time into writing for people who actually listen and appreciate my message.

There is no stigma attached to pole dancing

“Peach, have you gone mad?”

“Someone said I was a slut the other day for posting a pole video!”

“I do ‘pole fitness’ and people still say pole is trashy!”

“Of course there is a stigma against pole dancing, I get asked if I’m a stripper all the time.”

Again, I reiterate, there is no stigma attached to pole dancing. However, there IS a stigma attached to women being sensual, confidently sexual, or breaking arbitrary rules of ‘decency’ and ‘modesty’, which directly translates to pole dancing. No clearer is this than in the words of those who pole who say ‘I’m not like a stripper, what I do is  more like gymnastics’, or ‘Pole dance actually originated in China and India! MEN did it!’. The thing that all of these arguments have in common, is that they only add to the social conversation that explicitly states that women have to act in a certain way in order for their actions to be deemed appropriate. By asserting these views you are not helping pole become more accepted, you are simply trying to fit it into the predefined concept of decency which is irrational

In  my opinion… Skin is skin. A bikini is a bikini. And high heels are amoral, inanimate objects. Of course, these can become sexualised through the socialisation process. However, the moral values that we assign to these are purely based on what we have been conditioned to believe. There is nothing inherently ‘indecent’ about skin, or bikinis, or high heels – they are only judged on their perceived sexual power because of a constructed value system that denigrates female sensuality. Similarly, the value (or lack of) that we place upon sex workers such as strippers is not inherent to them the minute they take up the job, but is assigned to them based on social conditioning that has occurred to tell you that female sensuality is wrong. Most people in pole reject this value system, but if you simultaneously pole and uphold this value system by trying to legitimise pole by distancing it from its Strip Club past, then you are part of the problem, not the solution. Want to find out why, read THIS blog about the Panopticon Theory.

If you assert that pole dancing is ‘better’ than its stripper routes the only thing you are achieving is strengthening the social conditioning of women to not be confident in their sensuality, their femaleness, their sexiness (however they want to express it, whether it is through high heels and makeup, or bare feet and loose clothing). By legitimising pole dancing through its connection to a male dominant history you erase all the amazing and bad-ass WOMANHOOD from it. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be associated with a female dominant history full of inspirational pole fore-mothers! I don’t feel like a mallakhamb practitioner when I am doing my moves on the pole, I identify with the amazing female athletes in the industry around me, regardless of what their profession is.

Of course, people who hold these opinions may believe they are helping the pole industry to become more accepted by trying to make it fit into a socially acceptable box… but, what if we consider that the box we are trying to fit it into isn’t the right box in the first place? That box is scary – that box contains judgement, aggression, and limitations. I would rather not fit into that box, thank you very much.

So, the next time someone critiques pole, remember, the stigma isn’t against pole, the stigma is against the women who dare to express themselves, to love themselves, and to be the amazing, sexy, bad ass women they want to be. Don’t you want to support that message?

I am Peach Lee Ray, and I support this message.

Comments 10

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  1. Very well said Peach!
    I think one of the reasons the recent brouhaha was so incredibly offensive as well as hurtfu, is that pole has been and continues to be, the tool with which so many women have regained their agency. As well as a means with which to heal the almost unhealable. The after effects of sexual assaults and rape. I know it’s done both for me, and so, at the tender age of 60? I’m finally feeling almost ok in my body and dare I say it? At times, both pretty and desirous!

    So yes, I’ll defend pole and my pole sisters to my dying breath, be it for them athleticism, or sultry. Because… we in the community actually have the choice!

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  2. Totally agree. To me high heels are items of art and beauty. To me all of you that dance are beautiful and I look at you for what you create, not in any sleazy way. I so want to be amazing at the art of authentic pole, I’m still trying to create that and it’s not easy, but I love trying and it’s the energy and love from all of you that helps. I don’t worry about what the world thinks, but I do worry about getting it right and what you all think. As for conditioning of people, I can say beauty is on the eye of the beholder it must be as I even get the attention you all do, but obviously from people (m & f) who like girls like me. It would be a boring place if there wasn’t any dancers no matter what style we choose. As for our style I so wish there was more of you near me to practice with. ❤️ Tasha

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  3. For centuries women have suppressed their sensuality out of fear. Fear of physical violence, fear of religious persecution, fear of sociocultural shaming to name just a few. Men have never had to suppress theirs. Pole fitness is a safe environment for woman to get fit and express their creativity and sensuality without fear. It also shifts our focus away from how we look, culminating in us appreciating our bodies for what we can acheive through strength, grace and flexibility. This leads to a more balanced psyche, and is the reason it is so empowering. In my opinion, this is feminism and not oppression.

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      Yes, brilliant points Candice! And so so true! This is why pole is so powerful in helping women to embrace themselves and to love themselves. Not because it makes them ‘sexy’ to others, but because it makes them feel sexy, confident and amazing within themselves 🙂

  4. Pingback: Research: Peach Lee Ray – ‘Cults of Superiority’ – memoirs of a stripper

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