Pole Dancing Doesn’t Bring Women Down, It Uplifts Them.
Guest article by Kelly Dunning.
Pictures used in the article taken from the Soul-POLE Calendar 2013.
Girls, something has gone wrong and we need to set it right. There is a huge misconception about the art of pole dancing which still exists in the world and not only is it holding back this industry from flourishing, it is also stifling its ability to empower women.
Recently, Sian Young (pictured below left) the founder of Soul-POLE Dance & Fitness Studios, approached homeless charity Cryreninans of Aberdeen with a proposal to donate to them the proceeds of her charity calendar project.
However, rather than being met with enthusiasm, her generous offer of support was shot down. According to Cryreninans, who work with many vulnerable women who have been victims of exploitation within prostitution and the adult entertainment industry, working with Soul-POLE brought with it “risks of undermining our work and relationship with the women we support.” They stated that they were worried about teaming up with a pole dancing instruction studio, as this partnership would “mould the perception of others” in a negative way.
In short, a homeless charity refused a sizable donation right before Christmas from a business founded by a woman who was once herself homeless and who built her way back up to success by empowering herself and others through the art of pole dancing.
The saddest part about this series of events is that Sian had also offered a series of free self esteem workshops to the homeless charity, so that she could speak to the battered women and help them find the confidence that they need to get back on their feet. As someone who has lived on the streets and understands first-hand what these women are going through, Sian could have shared with them the vital things she learned on her journey from homeless to successful award winning businesswoman.
Unfortunately, the charity rejected the free self esteem counselling too, denying these homeless women the help that they could have benefited from so much. This is not just ironic and sad; it is a sign of a nagging misconception which has been holding back the pole dancing industry for years.
Think about it, what is the real difference between pole dancing for fitness and any other sport, such as gymnastics, figure skating or swimming? Pole dancing requires strength, stamina and flexibility and takes hours and hours of practice and training to master. It is high-flying acrobatic moves which require the athlete to be able to lift her entire bodyweight with her arms and maintain incredible control over her core muscles. The physical skills for gymnastics and circus performance are very similar, so why is it so different when the pole is vertical rather than horizontal?
Pole dancing women not only receive physical benefits from this exercise, such as weight loss, increased flexibility and improved strength. There are also huge psychological benefits to this exercise as well.
The physical exercise of pole dancing releases endorphins, which are natural anti-depressants and promote a feeling of well being. But it goes a lot deeper than that. Many women who participate in pole dance fitness report that they feel increased confidence and better self esteem afterwards. In fact, according to one BBC article a London doctor prescribed pole dancing lessons to a patient suffering from depression.
Women who have participated in to pole dancing classes have stated that they feel more confident, less stressed and happier and enjoy an improved social life, better friendships and a strong sense of community. This sport doesn’t make them feel oppressed; it makes them feel like powerful goddesses.
The pole dancing industry is also an important part of the economy as well. In 2012 the UK fitness industry was valued at £3.86 billion, growing even despite the recession. Pole dancing is growing more and more each year, becoming a significant part of this enormous industry.
Of course, it is true that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women in the sex industry does exist. Sian Young knows this for herself, as she has been the victim of sexual assault and rape multiple times in her life. However, Sian explains that there is a huge difference between women who are being exploited in the sex industry and women who are taking charge of their own sexuality and learning pole dancing as an art form. In this way, positive and empowering pole dancing classes do not cause women to be taken advantage of. In fact, they actually do the opposite and give women the strength to stand up for themselves.
It is women who suffer from low self esteem who are the most vulnerable and likely to be exploited and marginalized within the sex industry. Women who are struggling, have no faith in themselves and believe that they have nowhere to turn can be victims of predatory treatment because they are not able to stand up for themselves. A confident woman does not end up working in the sex industry.
A confident women knows that she has other options available to her and that she does not have to do something which makes her feel worthless in order to pay her rent. She will stand up for herself in the face of abuse and seek the help she needs.
The confidence building benefits of pole dancing classes give women this self-assurance, enabling them to protect themselves from any exploitation. Rather than leading women into a life of being taken advantage of, pole dancing classes such as the ones at Soul-POLE and other studios give women the power to say, “No, my sexuality is my own and I don’t have to be treated that way.”
Some have argued that pole dancing is detrimental to women because it teaches them to fit into male sexual ideals and to “perform” for men in an erotic way. Sure, the final performance can certainly be hypnotizing and provocative, but a confident woman is not performing as a way of submitting to any man. She is performing for herself. She is challenging her own abilities. She is basking in the spotlight of her own feminine grace and beauty, which is a sensation that is incredibly empowering. She will dance when no one is watching, because she knows that it’s all for her. She has the power.
Why is it that we still have such an old fashioned and negative perspective of pole dancing? Why is the sight of a strong and powerful woman, completely in charge of her own sexuality and celebrating her strength and ability, so intimidating?
Why can’t women choose to express their feminine sensuality in this way?
Let’s let go once and for all of these negative stereotypes which are holding Pole Dance fitness back from helping women. Share this message with your friends and spread the word about the positive, confidence-building goddess power of pole dance fitness. Show your support by buying your copy of the Soul-POLE Calendar 2013.
Written by Kelly Dunning