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Jul 31 2010

Pole dancing classes offered to girls 9 and up

This story has officially broken the Feminist Analyzer in my brain (no, it doesn’t come standard – you have to get in installed and make sure to keep it updated). A fitness center in Canada is offering pole dancing class for girls ages 9 and up, and even younger for private lessons.

I’m mentally flip flopping between both sides. My thought process is going something like:

Aaaugghhh who would let little girls pole dance?!”
“What’s the problem? It’s good physical exercise!”
“What’s the problem?! Pole dancing is associated with a sexual and oft-exploited activity, and minors shouldn’t be doing it.”
“They don’t think of it as sexual – it’s just like playing on a playground. You only think it’s bad because society has conditioned you to think that way!”
“I mean, why should we be honing the pole dancing skills of little girls? Isn’t that just going to encourage them to do something they’re good at when they’re older?”
“Nothing is wrong with pole dancing if an adult chooses to do so of their own free will.”
“But why not spend that money signing them up for a sport? Or some geeky science thing? Increase those skills!”
“Listing other choices is irrelevant.”
“But pole dancing is inherently erotic. Even if the children think about it innocently, the reaction from others will negatively effect them.”

Maybe I would be able to think about this more if I hadn’t been blogging for nearly 12 hours straight. Gah, I give up. What do you think? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

This is post 24 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

45 comments

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  1. 1
    LS

    I think the fact that it’s only being offered to little girls MAKES it sexual.If it was offered to boys and girls alike, I would tend towards accepting that it was simply an activity being divorced from its sexual context. There’s certainly a skill and a beauty to pole dancing. And I say this as a guy who has never been to a strip club, and only seen it performed by fully clothed women. (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with strip clubs, I just want to point out that I have less of a sexual context for my view of pole dancing as an art.) (I do tend to blather, don’t I?)Anyway, targeting it to girls makes it something that “girls do,” which is negative, I think.

  2. 2
    libraboy

    I think that pole dancing is learned for one reason: to pole dance. I already think that pre-teens sexualize themselves and are sexualized WAY too much already. Thumbs down.

  3. 3
    Peter Madsen

    Yeah, I’m kinda leaning toward the negative, too…. but now I wanna see if there’s a Pole Dancing for Men class being offered somewhere near me.

  4. 4
    LS

    Of course the point of learning pole dancing is to pole dance. But there’s an active movement to de-sexualize pole dancing. A movement which makes some very compelling arguments. I mean, can YOU support yourself on a vertical pole using only your legs? That’s some serious muscle tone.

  5. 5
    LS

    Um…”"Kids love the pole. If anything, it’s hard to get them off it because they’re such naturals.”"Okay, there’s no way that wasn’t intentional.

  6. 6
    LaurelT

    As a person who spent 15 years (from 2 until 17) in dance classes – not pole dancing admittedly but by my early teens I was doing things which I reflect upon now as almost blatantly sexual – I don’t really see any problem with this as long as its done in the right way. Rather than thinking of this as conditioning young girls into something exploitive, think of it far more as teaching them about their own body, something which through puberty will undoubtably change. In a time when girls are far too often exceedingly body-conscious, teaching them to love their own body, to revel in their own sexuality not for the approval of men but for their own enjoyment can only be a good thing!

  7. 7
    Thomas Everett Haynes

    Finally, our sexual entertainers can benefit from lifelong training like the ones in Japan. :-|

  8. 8
    Jonathan Figdor

    As Nabokov illustrated so well, this is a recipe for disaster.

  9. 9
    LS

    I think this is a superb point. I think it’s particularly relevant to note that most dancing has some roots in sexuality. Not all of it, obviously, but rain dancing didn’t really carry into the modern era.Honestly, it seems like we should be slightly more concerned with the fact that in any couple’s dancing, the man leads. Though even that seems like a rather minor issue when compared with others.

  10. 10
    Icaarus

    Oh my friend ( a pole dance instructor) would kill me for saying this but I don’t see how you can remove the sexual element from pole dancing. I also don’t see how you can remove that element from Ballet. So while I feel emotionally that this is in some way wrong, I cannot help but think that any rational argument against it would have to be applied to a lot of other things in children’s lives. So in summary while I find it very strange, I don’t think we have the right to judge .

  11. 11
    Lyz

    Aren’t there also belly-dancing classes for <del>kids</del> girls? I’d think this would fall into the same category. Although I guess they also make lingerie for <del>kids</del> girls. ‘Cuz *that’s* not creepy or anything.

  12. 12
    Buffy2q

    I don’t see how the sexual element can be separated from pole dancing, and it appears only girls are being offered the classes which further suggests they’re not for fitness purposes. If adults want to do it I’m not bothered in the least, but I find it creepy that it’s being pushed on little girls.

  13. 13
    LS

    Honestly, I wish they’d start making KIDS underwear for ADULTS.Forget the lace covered, transparent bits of nothing that cost hundreds of dollars. If my girlfriend walked in wearing a black bra with the batman symbol on each cup? I would lose my mind.

  14. 14
    Pet Serrano

    A. When I asked to learn belly dancing at 7 or 8 because the Bionic Woman did it, I knew full well it was sexy and good for attracting boys.B. I didn’t turn into a hooker. Been happily married for 16 years to a good friend who talked a lot of philosophy with me and also loved to watch me dance.I’m of the mind that girls with proper, intelligent role models will be fully capable of incorporating whatever they learn as they see fit, including physical fitness and sexual/body confidence.That being said, if they are getting access to good role models and books, more power to their families for allowing their daughters to experience a variety of activities, but if their mothers are signing them up because they’re hoping they’ll be picked up by a reality show producer, I would be strongly concerned.

  15. 15
    Peter Madsen

    Wait wait… sexual element in Ballet? Really?

  16. 16
    LaurelT

    Exactly! Dancing, even in its most reserved forms, is something inately sexual as it is rooted in an understanding of your body. The feeling of emotional freedom I get when I dance comes from being able to concentrate purely upon my inner core – this is a domain in which I am in complete control, in a world where realistically complete control is almost a fallacy. As a naturally big-busted curvy girl in an era when, especially during my teens, it was considered fashionable to look more like a starvation victim, I have never once felt the need to diet, or felt especially self-concious about my own body. I attribute a large portion of my body-confidence to the years I spent in dance training. So if teaching kids how to pole dance stops them developing issues later I’m all for it!

  17. 17
    LS

    Ballet is one of the few forms of art I really can’t stand, but from the four or five performances I’ve attended I would definitely agree that there’s a strong sexual element to it. But at this point I think we have to really figure out what we mean by there being “sexual elements” in something. I mean, I’ve got a dick, some people have vaginas, in my day-to-day life, I encounter people with vaginas which I find attractive, and have sexual urges. We’re sexual creatures, and even the most benign elements of our life have a certain sexuality attached to them.That said, there’s a reason male ballet dancers pad their crotch.

  18. 18
    LaurelT

    There’s a sexual element in every type of dance – and definitely in Ballet. Ballet is, at its element, story-telling through movement, and the stories ballet tells are not exactly innocent!Ballet is about controlling the movement of every muscle in your body – and then contorting yourself into shapes you would never in normal life place yourself into in order to look asthetically pleasing. To dance Ballet you have to have complete self awareness of your own body and how it moves – and that is inately sexual.

  19. 19
    LaurelT

    You make a great point – we are sexual creatures. Sex, no matter how much some people might like to deny it, is a part of our every day lives. That said, surely its got to be better to teach young kids about their own sexualty – to learn to embrace it and enjoy it for themselves rather than purely as something for the opposite sex to validate – rather than to attempt to desexualise life completely. Especially in this modern era when sex is so easily at everyone’s finger tips.

  20. 20
    LS

    I very much agree. This has always been one of my primary concerns when formulating an approach to child rearing. My ladyfriend actually found a great video recently where Bill Nye talks about sex in a way which I felt was very much appropriate for children.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

  21. 21
    Peter Madsen

    You know, I’ve never thought to look at it that way. Next time I’m at a Ballet I’ll be seeing it through very different eyes, I think.

  22. 22
    Peter Madsen

    >>”surely its got to be better to teach young kids about their own sexualty – to learn to embrace it and enjoy it for themselves rather than purely as something for the opposite sex to validate – rather than to attempt to desexualise life completely.“This has to be, without a doubt, the best thing anyone’s said this entire day. And possibly the best blog comment ever.

  23. 23
    LS

    Just learn from my experience: they frown on masturbating in the audience.

  24. 24
    Peter Madsen

    Wait wait… when the dancers masturbate in the audience, or when the audience masturbates in the audience?

  25. 25
    LS

    The latter, duh. I mean, jeeze, don’t you know anything about ballet? The former is pretty much essential to any performance!

  26. 26
    LS

    Oh come on, man! I totally referenced Futurama earlier!

  27. 27
    LaurelT

    Will I go forever down in your estimation if I admit that my first reaction upon reading your comment was to go ‘awww’ and do a little happy dance? :)

  28. 28
    Fiona

    Like a few years back when Target got heaps of shit in Australia for selling PADDED “bras” (crop tops) for the 6-10 yo market. WTF?

  29. 29
    Peter Madsen

    Nope! Feel free to go ‘awww’ and do a little happy dance as often as you like :)

  30. 30
    Fiona

    And I’m sure there’s plenty of little girls asking to do pole dancing etc cos of the pussycat dolls and then like. Britney didn’t make it look that appealing, but the dolls on their poles would.

  31. 31
    LS

    Oh! Oh! Or, each cup could be one of the two death stars!The half-completed second death star could even have a bit of transparency where the incomplete bits would go, if you wanted to make it more sultry.

  32. 32
    Peter Madsen

    Oh my god, that’s the best idea ever!

  33. 33
    Wayne Colvin

    Children’s dance performances whether Hip-Hop or Jazz or whatever *are* rather sexualized. Like whenever there’s a fair or something. Just sayin’.Doesn’t Hip-Hop often use spot-like movements like skiing or shooting basketballs? You’d think children’s Hip-Hop would have, you know, maybe playground movements. Maybe pantomining monkey bars or something.Every time I pass a local public performance in the park or whereever they have tweens and younger doing flirty or sexual poses…

  34. 34
    Kristopher W Ramsey

    I’d love to meet a girl willing to wear something like that! Geeky girls rule, hands down.

  35. 35
    LS

    I can name a dozen girls off the top of my head who I’m almost positive would be happy to have something like that available.The thing is that just because they’re wearing it, doesn’t mean you get to know about it. =P

  36. 36
    Kristopher W Ramsey

    I’m with Jen on this one. I think the money would be much better spent on getting girls into science classes, arts classes, or even martial arts. Heck, especially martial arts. I’d love to meet a girl that enjoys kendo. Strong, smart women are amazing, and I wish there were more of them.

  37. 37
    hippiefemme

    *gasp* If this could happen, I would absolutely wear it. The matching panties could say “That’s no moon…” on the back.

  38. 38
    Erp

    I agree that there is something unnerving about this probably because pole dancing is so closely associated with the sex trade. However women exercising in many forms has sometimes been seen as sexual and so restricted (think old style bathing costumes for women or tennis dresses from the 1920′s or straight out women not allowed to do this or that).

  39. 39
    LS

    OH! And in the GEEKIEST reference of ALL TIME, the front could be of the exhaust port at the end of the Death Star trench. I suddenly wonder why I was having trouble thinking up matching panties. 0.o

  40. 40
    Peter B

    How different is teaching 9 year old girls to pole dance from putting make-up on the faces of 5 year old girls and entering them in those bizarre beauty pageants?At the moment, the realm of pole dancing is almost exclusively within strip clubs. So when these little students ask what they can do with these skills, what can you tell them? Perhaps in 50 years pole dancing will be an Olympic sport, strip clubs mostly out of business and boys and girls will both learn it at school because of its fitness benefits. But at the moment, culturally it doesn’t have a good image.I fully support the idea of teaching children – boys and girls – a positive image of self and sex as a first step to achieving self-confidence and sexual equality. But that means education in the classroom (and preferably at home too), not teaching nine year old girls how to pole dance.

  41. 41
    Kristopher W Ramsey

    True, but those dozen girls sound like they’d be great to meet and or hang out with. It’s always nice to meet members of the opposite sex that are into geeky things. Makes for fun conversations. :)

  42. 42
    LS

    9 year olds are always thinking about how the skills they learn can be applied to their future careers.

  43. 43
    Phil McDuff

    Yes, this.I know a couple of very good pole dancers. Strippers, as they say. One of the best is under no illusions that what she does is sexual. She also sees it as being another skilled arial acrobatic art, like silk or strap acrobatics. These things, too, can be sexual (and she has been experimenting to make them so), however we’re used to seeing them in places like Cirque du Soleil and thus diminishing the sexual aspects that are present whenever attractive and physically fit bodies contort themselves into weird shapes in tight clothes behind our aesthetic appreciation.I do, however, totally get behind the idea that current vs ideal cultural environments matter, also. But I don’t see that putting your young daughter in for ballet lessons is necessarily better than putting her in for pole lessons. They’re just both referencing different parts of the culture, both parts of which have good and bad aspects to them.

  44. 44
    Der Cat

    I just buy my underware in the mens or boys department and size up. The later makes me feel REALLY creepy though.

  45. 45
    Der Cat

    Hoyl shit, I need that.

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