Friday, 9 January 2009

Back to basic feminism

I've just picked up the Active Hastings winter programme. Active Hastings are run by the council, in partnership with the PCT and others and usually run some good programmes to get/support the local population to be, well, more active I guess.

But this time I'm cross, very cross, and offended. They are, again offering pole dancing classes, and rather than a small little class for the I imagine, fairly small of enlightened women who want to just do it for exercise and for themselves (or am I being too kind here) - they are really pushing it. First page in fact is an ad for an adult (oh yeah) dance and movement camp - a chance to try out things you wouldn't normally do such as Lindy Hop and Tap Dance, oh and pole dancing.

I'm just so shocked, firstly as I think I've mentioned before that many bars in the town centre have poles, and secondly we've moved this far from our roots. OK, so earnest 1970's radical feminism has maybe had its day, women are no longer all about looking plain to not attract attention or sexual attention, or even against a little sexual attention. But have we circled too far? In our desire to be post-feminist women are we actually simply acting as the Playboy bunny girls we all, apparently admire so much.

I'm not sure what to think, but all I know is I don't approve. I don't want young women 17 years old plus, and older I guess only keeping fit by pole dancing. I don't want us to be fit to be ogled. I want us fit for ourselves, so we keep ourselves strong and fit and can choose our own sexuality. Not council funded sex.

Thoughts please!!


Steerforth said...

Utterly bizarre!

I suppose they'll be selling the poles in B&Q next.

Sandra Morris said...

You're not far wrong.

Following a brief Google it transpires you can get a so-called 'fitness pole' (?!) from Amazon, amongst others! *shakes head in disbelief*

tattyhousehastings said...

Thanks for that - its just not cricket is it?

Anonymous said...

Ok you can object, it's your blog.

However you don't object to the tap dancing, a dance that normally depicts females wearing fishnets or tights with waistcoat and tails.

Or the Latin dances which show women being depicted as sex objects and in the case of a couple of the dances being thrown about by the fella as he shows his power and superiority.

The council is encoraging a dance movement that is becoming popular.

In your method of objection don't you think you might be encoraging censorship, something that the feminist movement fought against?

I was of the opinion that the feminist movement was created to enable women to be equal, not just in voting but in the right to have access to things they want to do.

Personally hats (and anything else) off to them. I sure wouldn't be that flexable!

depesando said...

actually....I'm probably the only person here who has been to a lap dancing club - and not as a customer, but to take photographs to accompany a piece of journalism.

I don't know which is worse, the men who are so divorced from any basic human morality that they can only see the women as sexually available meat, or the girls who are either so desperate for the money, or so divorced from any self respect and incapable of seeing their situation as anything other than a transaction.

Pole dancing as a fun, acceptable way of expressing freedom is on a par with the mums who want their 6 year old girls to be glamour models, and buy them playboy accessories.

I am the least prudish, most liberal person you could meet - and I think personal freedom is the most important facet of our society - but just because you 'can' do something, does not make it right.

tattyhousehastings said...

OK, I confess I have never been and never intend to go to a lap dancing club. I do however, see no problem with dancing, whether its tap, or salsa or modern that has an element of sexuality. It's just the selling of our bodies, and reducing ourselves, as Richard says to pieces of meat that I can't condone.
Always interesting to hear views of what feminism is to others though. And as usual, there is not one feminism, but many feminisms.

Anonymous said...

I agree that our opinions can and will differ.

however I thought your objection was for a dance class not for a lap club nor for people to be selling themselves. In all probability these women will be paying for the pleasure (torture) of learning how to swing on a pole.

As for whether Depesando is the only person here who has been near a tap class, then um nope, I spent much of my younger years being subjected to all sorts of dance and am most proficeint at tap, latin, ballroom to name a few.

As Tatty says, each to there own view ont he subject.

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

actually - I said lap dancing, not tap dancing.....I can tell now I have NEVER BEEN TAP DANCING!!!, and anyone who says I have - I'll see them in court!!!

Anonymous said...

ooops that'll teach me to read properly!

Anonymous said...

Sounds a little like censorship to me as well.

tattyhousehastings said...

Actually I'm not as against the Council funded programme publicising their activities as I am about this being a public funded activity.
I'd rather bring back netball.

Anonymous said...

You're entitled to your opinion, but I've been poling for quite a while (fitness only, NOT club) and find it a little offensive that you see it as so utterly divorced from feminism.

I know many men who also participate in the sport to a high level (including my husband in fact) and thoroughly enjoy it. Interestingly, I have never seen a single criticism or allegation of loose morals or otherwise being leveled at any male participating in the sport.

I first began it as I was too old to continue to participate in traditional gymnastics. The sport is heavily gymnastic and there is even a petition to have the male and female variants of it included in the 2012 olympics.

I'd reccommend taking the class (you may enjoy it)and then making value judgements about the sport and the people who do it, if you must make them at all. And just so you know, they also do netball.

tattyhousehastings said...

Actually I don't want to judge the people who participate in pole dancing, far from it. Living in this country we are free to make our own choices.
I also had no idea there were male pole dancers - interesting.

Anonymous said...

i hope leaving links is allowed as this video shows pole dancing in a very different light to how its being seen by many of you. i am an instructor and have a few men also joining the classes. they do exactly the same moves as the women i teach. non of which is particularly sexual.

this isn't one of my students but is a dancer i aspire to.

Anonymous said...

Your attitude to pole is nothing more than prejudice based on poor media representation. These classes are not about stripping they're about gymnastic ability - a world away from the sleezy nightclub image your suspicious brain defaults to.

Just try it, you'll soon learn how hard it is a physical discipline. If nothing else go along to a lesson and watch before you come in with such a ridiculous chauvinistic attitude.

I'm a male pole dancer and no - I'm not gay.

Anonymous said...

"I don't want us to be fit to be ogled. I want us fit for ourselves, so we keep ourselves strong and fit and can choose our own... [last word irrelevant since it has nothing to do in a fitness environment]" a point I highly agree with you on. Too bad that you don't see how it is applicable on exactly the sport you are badmouthing.
Background research isn't much valued among today's journalists so why should it be among bloggers? But fact remains that you are talking out of your ass and just showcasing your own falling for late night press sensationalism - the ones who prioritize offensive headlines instead of objective facts.
No one can be accused of not being absorbed enough by something they have no interest in, but basing a collumn on some loose prejudice is only embarrasing.

Go meet a higher level athlete practicing this sport. Or go watch a class. Who knows, it might even... *gasp* educate you.

Minds are like parachutes, they only work when they're open.

ambyglam said...

I am a gay male pole dancing instructor, so I can assure you as often the only male in the room I am not there to ogle the ladies...I am there to instruct...thats why they pay me!

Pole dancing is a mix of gymnastics and dance and is very athletic and does not result in people ruching off to work in lap dancing bars!

So why dont you get off your negative roll and go have a go...who knows how you will feel once you try the most fun exercise system out sure my student who is a minister doesnt feel like rushing off to become a stripper!

tattyhousehastings said...

Interesting points, however I must point out that the Hastings council funded classes are ones which you need to wear; 'high heels and shorts'. So I guess we're not talking about men being welcome, or gymnastics 'cos surely fitness classes would involve ballet shoes, or bare feet.
But...of course I understand that different groups of people do pole dancing, and some of them do it to keep fit/gain strength/agility etc. Others might do it for other reasons.

weetrixi said...

I've got to agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but pole dancing rocks!

Since starting it I am the healthiest and fittest I've ever been and not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Like any excercise it is such a good outlet for stress and as it is a form of dance and gymnastics makes you feel good about your body and what you have learnt to do with it. It is a journey on where you learn new moves and spins, with increasing flexability and skill.

I would not call myself a feminist as such but advocate strongly for equal opportunties. If a woman or man decides to partake in a healthy lifestyle choice of pole fitness then I do not deem this offensive in any way, infact it is the opposite - quite liberating. And also if people choose to work in clubs then so be it - again, it is their active choice. Anyways, I also dont believe in being derogatory or meaningly offensive.

Go on give it a go and let us know what you think when you've tried it.

And in all fairness about our other postings - you did ask for comments!!!

Peace x

Louisa said...

As an instructor, I have sometimes used pointe shoes (ballet shoes with wooden blocks in the toes) myself but wouldn't recommend them for new students. Gymnastics slippers work well but are very expensive and unlike heeled shoes not the sort of thing most people have in their house already.

I will happily teach students in high heels, plastic coated trainers or bare feet. A lot of instructors and dancers prefer heels as they alter your centre of gravity a little bit and make moves such as pivots and spins a lot easier; the same as ballroom dancing as they make sure you are using the balls of your feet. Shoes and in particular plastic, PVC or leather shoes can also help you grip the pole as they create friction.

The ballroom analogy actually works quite well as pole dance shares a lot of spins and poses with ballroom, which were heavily used by Rachel Stevens and Vincent Simone in this years "Strictly". Ballroom is a good example of something which is performed for fitness with the women usually wearing heels (the exception being the Lindy Hop).

A beautiful pole sequence performed in heels can be seen in the 1950's MGM musical "Give a Girl a Break" which is lovely and family friendly. Without the feminine elements it would have not have looked so lovely.

It's usual for pole classes to be taught in shorts and t-shirts as when learning a lot of the moves such as climbing and hanging you need to use your skin to gain traction on the pole. When you first learn a move, your technique won't be polished and your muscles will not be ready for it so you will usually need the additional grip of bare skin. Leather, plastic and PVC work well too but there are not many people who were not in 90's pop bands who have plastic trousers and even fewer who would wear them in public!!

Extremely experianced dancers can often dance in pretty much anything but for beginners, it's safer to have a bit more grip and safety should always come first.