Where to start? I came across an amusing Guardian article this morning (do read):
I hasten to add that I find this as troubling as it is hilarious. In a world reeling with all manner of SERIOUS issues to be attended to (climate change, pollution, food waste, poverty, homelessness … ), putting the question of whether or not pole dancing should be included in the Olympics on the table as an ‘issue’ worthy of serious consideration, is – how shall I put this – a sign of the times we live in?
I say this both as an athlete and someone who has taken pole dancing lessons. Pole dancing is fun, physically challenging and, when one has a certain level of expertise, an art. However, the element of sexual seduction is core to its appeal for both women and men – women turn to pole dancing classes not merely to improve their physical fitness, but, if we’re being honest, to improve our sex appeal and ability to seduce, else we would simply turn to kick-boxing or pilates or start running. Nothing wrong with this per se, but it does put pole dancing in a class other than that of sport.
Women’s sexuality is a potent thing (so is men’s). And as a culture we seem to have a lot of problems understanding what constitutes responsible use of our sexual energies and appropriate sexual expression. Pole dancing classes could be used not only as a vehicle to educate people physically with regard to general fitness and sexual expression, but to educate the intellect and emotions as well. If pole dancing becomes just another ‘sport’ all of that potential for re-education stands to be lost, and confined to more clinical settings that don’t necessarily educate as much as codify, classify and avoid any nuanced discussion of our desire for connection, for escape, for spiritual transcendence, for relief from the more soul-eroding aspects of daily living. Sex, too often, is loaded with all manner of expectations that it cannot possibly fulfill.
Pole dancing comes out of a culture of sexual exploitation, but it could just as well evolve into something that transcends that suffering, informing a more nuanced, philosophical, life-enhancing discussion of our sexuality, not to mention a potential change in behaviour on the part of those whose inclination has been to abuse the privilege of sexual communion with another, reducing it to a means by which to manipulate, pain and/or violate the sanctity and integrity of another person (body, mind, soul).
Turning pole dancing into an Olympic ‘sport’ may seem to some like progress, but in a culture of rampant sexual misconduct, exploitation and injury, perhaps it is an irresponsible side-stepping of the actual seriousness of the issues facing human sexuality in modern times. Perhaps, instead, our energies might be better spent pursuing solutions to these more weighty problems, rather than risk trivializing them further in what looks to all appearances like yet another bid for a different flavour of stardom.