Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Feminist, Shmeminist

There was a magazine article over at the beeb today regarding the increase in classes offering to teach the (ig)noble art of pole dancing to those who might be interested.

The views expressed in the article and some of the resulting comments made me angry enough to mail my two-pennorth to the website*. I wasn't the only one by any means - the article had a huge response, and rightly so, in my opinion. In the body of the article there was the usual reactionary response from the feminist brigade (or at least someone purporting to be speaking under that banner), banging on about prostitution and exploitation, and bemoaning the fact that women are seeking to "normalise" this activity, and, in turn, "perpetuate a culture of prostitution". Um, hello? I really, really cannot subscribe to this point of view. The thing that struck me the most was that the feminist viewpoint seemed to rail strongly against a woman who said that the classes had boosted her confidence and made her feel sexy. Now, I may have missed the point, but isn't true feminism about empowerment? What exactly is wrong with a woman choosing to increase her sense of self and perhaps enjoy her sexual side in a more fulfilling way, by a method of her own choosing that is acceptable to her and that she feels comfortable with? Isn't the very act of doing so a feminist statement? As long as the classes are freely available for individuals to choose to participate in, or not, what on earth is the issue?

I'm not suggesting for a minute that prostitution is acceptable if it's undertaken without choice. Exploitation is wrong*. But a room full of giggling thirty-somethings bruising their inner thighs to a soundtrack of Christina Aguilera before going home to show their other halves a good time (or just to giggle with their mates over a glass of wine or three afterwards) - well, where's the harm? Judging from the response, it's rash generalisations in angry-wimmin speak that set the cause for equality back much farther than allowing freedom of choice to those who are lucky enough to have the benefit of it. Why not concentrate on the truly exploited - draw attention to those who really have no choice in how they live their lives, rather than barking out pointless soundbites that only serve to reinforce stereotypes of hairy-legged, dungaree wearing, right-on sisters.

Now, where did I leave my perspex-soled mules? Only he'll be home in an hour and I need to perfect my routine to "Steamy Windows", otherwise I won't get my housekeeping this week.

* Competition time! Which comment was mine?
** But I like dirty films. How to reconcile?


Blogger Annie Rhiannon chimed in with...

Only today I was reading an old post at LC's blog about this:


And I like dirty films too. Don't reconcile. Just be a walking contradiction.

25 April, 2006 20:03  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

this post read so much better in my head.


25 April, 2006 20:03  
Blogger Annie Rhiannon chimed in with...

I love Jill Arscott from Brighton's comment...

"It's exercise, is it? So you'll all be wearing trainers then?"

Um, what?

25 April, 2006 20:07  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

you are either 'lushes' or dr tuppy owens (albeit lying about your age)

boy would i like to be able to do what she's doing in the second photo - wow, just WOW

25 April, 2006 20:07  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i loved jill arscott's name. not enough names with "arse" in them, in my opinion.

25 April, 2006 20:11  
Blogger claire chimed in with...

Erm... who cares, really?
no one is forcing the feminists to twirl around a pole are they? Why are they getting their panties in a bunch over it.

Looks like fun to me. Though i'm not nearly coordinated enough to do it.

Friend of mine took a burlesque class. She had a blast. Pasties and all.

25 April, 2006 20:47  
Blogger Mike chimed in with...

pole fitness is a workout for the body & mind!.....but can i just ask..we go to the gym to sweat..workout..but we still insist on putting on the gloss before hand..wearing our tight lycra.... most women will have a desire to feel wanted and we are a society influenced by the media..images of perfection...pole fitness quite simple gives everyday people the chance to reveal a confident stronger side to themselves...without going to extreme measures of cosmetic surgery ...yo-yo diet's and need i go on....
surly girl, Bournmouth.

Prize please.

25 April, 2006 21:02  
Blogger First Nations chimed in with...

oh lordy. they had the striptease craze in the late 50's; time magazine even did an article on it. then there was the bellydancing craze in the mid sixties...my MOM took bellydancing at the YWCA ( and she could shake that thing, too, as i recall)then there was the roller-disco thing... and
every single time the knee-jerk feminists came off with their crapola. and i bet every single one of them probably had that poster of Mark Spitz in his speedo displayed prominently...but only to PROVE that they were FREE WOMEN taking charge of their sexuality, of course.
( i had it because he was hotter than a five dollar pistol. PACK-age!!!!!)

25 April, 2006 21:08  
Anonymous Whinger chimed in with...

I've often thought stripping was a clear example of how much power women actually have. Men pay them! To dance around! But not touch them!

SO doesn't matter if women get a workout and a good time and there happens to be a pole there.

Silly people.

25 April, 2006 21:51  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

enderby - nope. that wasn't me. do i look like the sort of girl who puts lipgloss on to go to the gym? no - granny pants and fifteen-year-old t-shirts all the way for me.

first nations - down, girl*

* by girl, i of course mean empowered, equal member of society who isn't downtrodden by the labels forced on us by the heinous male OPPRESSORS...


25 April, 2006 21:54  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

whinger - you rock.

25 April, 2006 21:55  
Blogger Zippy chimed in with...

Zerbina pole dances for me, and I love it. She's so cute in the fur hat and the knee-high boots, kicking her legs out and yelling "Hey." Makes me feel all ethnicy.

25 April, 2006 22:47  
Blogger mig bardsley chimed in with...

I feel this subject ought to be researched in a practical way before making any comments. Trouble is I wouldn't get much beyond pole flopping or I'd do it.


26 April, 2006 00:50  
Blogger Universal Soldier chimed in with...

I was just wondering what they'd do if a bloke wanted to attend the poledancing classes - and whether the feminists would think he was trying to get in touch with his feminine side or just after a free letch.

26 April, 2006 07:31  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

This week at my salsa class they decided to teach us a new dance whose basic moves seemed to consist of standing very close to your partner and doing pelvic thrusts.

We all had a go in a very British-half-hearted-can't-make-eye-contact-sort of a way, before giving up and going back to doing salsa. There is now an unspoken agreement that we will never go back there...

My point is, it's all very giving empowerment to us women, but British blokes would only be too embarrassed to bloody notice. Even if we are wearing Pepto-Bismol coloured lycra and pigtails.

26 April, 2006 07:31  
Blogger MinCat chimed in with...

yes. exactly. what is this about feminism anyway? its just nitpicking now. like some article about how it is insulting to call a woman mademoiselle, because it iplies she is sexually avaiable. isnt that just buying into heterosecual partiarchal structure of women only being allowed sexual freedom within marriage? people today!

26 April, 2006 08:04  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

My bird does the best pole dance ever !!!!!

26 April, 2006 08:55  
Blogger The Boy chimed in with...

Ah, but freedom is only freedom if you are free to do what I want you to do. Revolutionary feminism is just another brand of reactionary fundamentalism in (ahem) another garb.

So fight the fundamentalists, a pole in every house, free mules and leg massages on the NHS...

26 April, 2006 09:51  
Blogger DavetheF chimed in with...

The pole in stripping is standing in for the male member, so to speak. That is the feminist issue, I suspect. But it is merely a variant of dancing round the Maypole.

26 April, 2006 20:13  
Anonymous Mr Angry chimed in with...

I agree with Other Half... she really does ;-)

Seriously though, I'm all for female empowerment. There should be more of it in fact, definitely. If this really does empower women then perhaps we should make the classes compulsory? In the name of empowerment of course.

Right on sisters.

26 April, 2006 20:52  
Blogger Inexplicable DeVice chimed in with...

I'd go with MC, UK too.

Jill Arscott, indeed. You'd think she'd change her name? Unless she also thinks that not enough peolpes names rhyme or look like 'arse'...

26 April, 2006 21:27  
Blogger Inexplicable DeVice chimed in with...

'people's' Godammit, 'people's'

26 April, 2006 21:28  
Blogger frangelita chimed in with...

Pole dancing classes? Count me in! My only issue - how am I going to get the danged pole home to dance around and where should I put it...

26 April, 2006 22:16  
Anonymous Stu Savory chimed in with...

Wouldn't it be illegal in the UK for them to discriminate against men participating?



27 April, 2006 05:49  
Blogger tom909 chimed in with...

The pole dancing class that my Mrs goes to is run by Mrs R.Sole so everybody's happy with that arrangement.

27 April, 2006 09:13  
Anonymous Sharon J chimed in with...

Not a great lover of dirty films, I must admit, but think pole dancing's great. I only I had that kind of energy! Mind you, wouldn't I need to erect a pole in the living room/bedroom? Or could one simply dance around a naturally erect pole, so to speak?

I think it's time I took off the red stockings. Feminism is becoming embarrassing.

27 April, 2006 10:07  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

surly, we need your views on Prescott, over at mine please

27 April, 2006 11:00  
Blogger Betty chimed in with...

I'm 42. In other words, I've now reached the age where men would pay me to put more clothes on than take them off.

The idea that pole dancing would make me more confident about my body and empower me is about as remote as England winning the World Cup.

So I'm with the feminists on this one, for selfish reasons, heh heh.

27 April, 2006 12:27  
Blogger Arabella chimed in with...

The pole dancing craze in LA was on Oprah - cue mad screaming. The teacher is the real-life wife of the guy who plays Toby in The West Wing and has installed a pole in their kitchen. He loves it.
As my idea of empowerment is a blank checkbook, I don't get it really, but then I like Lindyhopping.
The stripper-power idea? I think I've seen too many of the kind of toilets they have to change in.

27 April, 2006 13:43  
Blogger Bela chimed in with...

This post has made me very angry. I am a member of that feminist 'brigade' and proud of it.

No one ever said that empowerment meant that women should behave like prostitutes in the privacy of their own homes. In what way is pole dancing empowering? Isn't that - and lap dancing - the seediest kind of sexual display, on a par with standing half-naked in doorways or windows? What difference does it make if it's destined to be viewed by one man instead of a whole gang of them, and if the pole isn't there to stop the woman from being pulled away by those men, as it is in night-clubs? If I'd known that 30 years on, women of the age I was then would clamour for the right to do pole dancing in their living room I would have stayed at home instead of demonstrating in the street.

Feminism was about gaining respect from men and making the world a better place for women. Women who were too young to be around at the time and who haven't had to fight for basic human rights are now full of scorn towards feminists. How b***** ungrateful! Instead of spending their energy fighting for the right to do pole dancing they should fight for equal pay (still not achieved), for instance. They should also stop being so short-sighted (those rights they do have could be taken away again in an instant). Women get drunk and disorderly just like men these days. Is that what we fought for too? Women are very good at rationalizing and claiming they do things 'for themselves' when, in fact, they're doing it to please men (like wearing stupid clothes that hinder movement and watching stuff they find repulsive), now they've told themselves they like doing ridiculous things around a pole. I could cry.

28 April, 2006 03:04  
Anonymous Other Half chimed in with...

Personally there is nothing I wouldn't do for my Surly Girl and I am offended by the notion this makes me less of a man so by the same token if a woman decides to undertake a past time irrespective of it's origins why should that be deemed an insult to their gender ?

28 April, 2006 09:28  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

Well, I for one love a bit of porn, no pretence there. It makes me horny. So does the thought of standing half-naked in a window and someone accidently seeing me - but I think I may have said enough in that respect! We stayed in a hotel room that had a pole for pole-dancing - I only wish I'd have been to lessons, cos I'd have loved to dance for my man and make him drool.

wv: havogoa (ooh i would)

28 April, 2006 13:52  
Blogger Fifi chimed in with...

I think Surly Sis was just saying that in her view empowerment to women means being able to do whatever they want (ie. freedom of choice) whether that means climbing Mount Everest in a cagoule or climbing a steel pole in a fluffy bikini. Besides aren’t women entitled to a rocking sex life, which the pole-dancing (for those who choose to do it) would spice up??

I don’t think age should be relevant in people having an opinion about something!

28 April, 2006 17:21  
Blogger Kyahgirl chimed in with...

thank you SG for bringing this divisive issue to our attention.

I say we need to get rid of all the labels. no more feminists please, just everyone go about your business, endeavoring to achieve your full potential as a human.

pole dancing shouldn't have anything to do with equal rights or fighting for recognition or pay. for fuck's sake, if I or my other half wish to do what ever the fuck we want to do in our own home to have fun and enjoy sex, why is it anybody's business and why is it even an issue?


beside 'the rest of my life' is a long time have a fun and interesting sexual relationship with someone. I'll do whatever it takes to enjoy the journey, won't you?

so sorry for swearing on your blog missy, I know you like to keep it clean. ♥

29 April, 2006 13:58  
Blogger Lulu chimed in with...

Nope, I'm not with you on this one. As an avowed and lifelong feminist - and not, actually, a member of any 'brigade' nor most of the time 'banging on' about anything, I mostly just think that 'feeling sexy' as such is hardly a worthy goal for empowerment. Did it need the women's movement to allow women to feel sexy? Don't think so - not in the West, anyway. As one who is delighted to have a sex life (before you start dismissing me as not understanding what it's like to be buzzing in that way) and delighted for anyone else to have one too, I just think - is that all? Is that all we wanted, the right to twirl round a pole? It's not enough for me, that's for sure. I'd rather be permitted to get a mortgage without having to have a man sign for me, as in my mother's generation. I'd rather be able to walk down the street without having some man commenting on my fat behind or that I'm, God forbid, not looking cheerful enough for him and prettying up his world, or not get overcharged at a garage - and hey, that's not happening yet. Looks like there's still a place for feminism.

And that argument - that what I do in the privacy of my own home is no one's business - that just doesn't work. For me, the key feminist thought, the centre of everything, is that the personal is political. When I first understood that, at the age of around 20, it was like a revelation and I certainly often fail to live by it but I can't forget it. What that means to me, how I interpret that, is that we all live in society and the smallest thing we do can affect and change it. Because you're not just pole dancing privately at home, are you all? You're talking about it on a blog and men who are not your partners are imagining you gyrating away and telling all their mates about it in the pub, and it's getting reported in newspapers with an element of prurience, and you can't prevent that except by not doing it in the first place - or truly, truly doing it in private.

29 April, 2006 20:37  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

i'm not pole dancing at all. i just don't see why i should apologise should i choose to.

choose. that's the word to concentrate on. in my (never cared enough about anything in my life) opinion, which i'm pretty sure i'm entitled to hold.

30 April, 2006 11:45  
Blogger DavetheF chimed in with...

Yeah, I lived with someone who thought the personal was political. It stuffed up our sex life completely and irreparably and I am not about to explain why (I think there are many other guys who have had that experience). Why do the "feminists" have to write such long rants? Smacks of desperation.

30 April, 2006 19:24  
Blogger tom909 chimed in with...

I am a bloke.
I completely understand the 'feminist' viewpoint and absolutely sympathise with it. I absolutely detest the way women are viewed as being there just for our sexual pleasure etc etc. But the trouble is I absolutely get turned on by woman being woman, if you see what I mean. I cannot go round in denial about pretty girls making me horny, and about sex being a major force that runs my life - it's a fact.
I won't go on and on because I'm not a feminist - that's just being rude really, isn't it.

01 May, 2006 09:00  
Blogger Lulu chimed in with...

'Rant' - there's another word commonly used to put down a woman when she tries to explain what she means. Sorry, but some ideas can't be presented in a soundbite.

Tom - it sounds like the pretty girls would be honoured to have you find them sexy. Feminist or not.

01 May, 2006 15:49  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

oh lord, this one's going to run and run, isn't it.

when i (and if i might presume to speak for anyone else) talk about "ranting", "banging on" or any other vaguely derogatory way to put across my personal point of view regarding somebody else's response to something or other, IT IS NOT GENDER-SPECIFIC. seriously. if i exaggerate my point of view for the purpose of my own personal writing, then please don't presume that this tells you all, or anything, about who i really am or what i really think. i'm not a journalist. i have no responsiblilty to anyone to maintain objectivity. can't we all just, i don't know, get over it?

i realise that for the people who have felt moved to explain their point of view at length, getting over it may not be an option. but really, i have more important things to worry about than offending people i have never met via the medium of pointless wittering on my personal blog. i mean, seriously, about four people read this on a regular basis. if i could be bothered, i might find a lot more to say on the subject.

but really, i can't. i have never pretended to be anything more than the shallow, insensitive airhead that i am.

thanks to everyone who's contributed to the discussion on this subject. now, enough already.

01 May, 2006 19:48  

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