Pole Dancing for Jesus - Now I've Seen Everything
So on one my regular cruises around the web for weird stuff, I found a youtube video about a woman in Texas who offers 'pole-dancing for Jesus' classes. How can you resist checking that out? I mean, what could pole-dancing for Jesus possibly entail? So I checked out the video and now I'm confused. It's really a non-story - this is just a woman from Texas who used to be a stripper and now teaches pole-dancing classes. That was a story in 1996 but now there's a million of them out there. The only difference is that this woman offers classes on Sunday afternoons to people who bring in their church programs. Oh, and they dance to contemporary christian music. Yes, really. So I'm completely befuddled. Part of me thinks, big deal, good on her for still doing what she likes to do and not letting the rest of the world tell her that it's not okay because of her religion. And what does it matter anyway? No one holds the rights to what pole-dancing is and is not and what it should look like, so she is free to turn it into whatever she wants. She says she wants to remove the stigma from pole-dancing. Fine - it's a great form of exercise and if that's all she wants it to be, more power to her. But as I watched, I started to get a little twitchy about that. To my mind, if you want to de-stigmatize something, you boldly and openly love it for what it is, you don't try to turn it into something else entirely. This is what has happened amongst many of the pole dancers and it makes me batty. They've taken a form of dance that started in the strip clubs, ripped it off for the benefits they can get out of it, and then worked hard to entirely divorce themselves from the roots of it. I have been to many a pole-dancing class and party in my life and I can tell you that there wasn't one where I didn't get the speech from the instructor about how she is either a) NOT a stripper, just a normal person like me or b) was a stripper but DOESN'T DO THAT ANYMORE. Sigh. They take this really cool form of art, dance and exercise and use it to their own ends but then completely shun the people who invented it in the first place? Doesn't seem right to me. It seems like we have some serious problems with strippers and we don't want to be associated with them. Often, they don't even want it to be associated with sex in any way. I went to a pole-dancing party a long time ago and when I told the instructor that I do sex toy parties, thinking we had lots in common, she clammed right up and said that she couldn't be associated with 'that sort of thing'. For one thing, who really cares pole-dancing in a strip club? The very fact that you are not doing it in a strip club means, at least at that point in time, that you are not stripping, so why do you need to make that so very clear? It just feels to me like it's a discomfort that's coming from within, not a judgement that's coming from the outside. To try to take all of the sex out of it doesn't take the stigma off, it entrenches it further. Yes, we are pole-dancers - but we are not THAT kind of pole-dancer. Maybe it sets you apart as something different, but it makes it clear that you think there's something wrong with all the others. It seems to me that the Texas woman is really conflicted about the whole thing. There are obviously aspects of this that she loves - the fitness, the expression, teaching other women and even, she says, helping them to feel beautiful. But in the very act of doing that, she is using elements that relate to sex, sexuality, sexual expression. Most of the moves of pole dancing are so cool for the very fact that they accentuate a woman's butt, chest and hips and make her body look beautiful as she moves. To do it right, you need to be comfortable about showing off your body and how it can move. That isn't solely sexual but to deny that there's a sexual aspect to that is ludicrous. But that's what so many pole-dance advocates seem to want to do. They encourage women to be cute and sexy - but there is definitely a line. You can be sexy, but not too sexy. We are not sluts here - we are not strippers. The best pole-dancers and instructors I've ever seen don't give a damn about any of this. They embody their bodies and they don't censor what they do. If a move is perceived as overtly sexual, they really don't care - they do what feels right to them and they don't apologize for it. The woman in the video had been a stripper in the past. She was so painfully uncomfortable with that fact that it was hard for her to even talk about it. That makes me sad. I know that sometimes there are things that go along with that job that are exploitative and abusive and if that happened to her, I am truly sorry for that. But to me she seemed uncomfortable with it because of the concern of being judged for that. That stinks. I would love to see her and every other woman who dances or has danced hold their heads up and stop apologizing. It's not their fault that our society is so screwed up about sex that they make stupid assumptions about women who dance. It would be lovely if we could all just stop doing that. And I think one thing that would help is if all the pole-dancers out there stopped telling people that they are not strippers. It doesn't matter whether you are or aren't, you are a woman who likes to pole-dance and that's just fine. In my searching for more info. about this, I also discovered this video that pokes fun at the idea of pole-dancing for Jesus. It's not nice to poke fun, I know, but it is hilarious and it points out the absurdity of the whole thing.