Forums Discussions Outrage at Cambridge Union offering Pole Fitness Classes

  • Outrage at Cambridge Union offering Pole Fitness Classes

    Posted by miss fern on April 25, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Hey guys,

    Check out this news coverage about Pole dancing classes being offered at the Cambridge Union.

    Between a Pole and a Hard Place:

    Union Pole Dancing Classes Attract National Attention:

    A quote from the piece:

    Supporters are wrong in saying that they can divorce pole dancing classes from the sex industry….. It is excruciating to hear intelligent women talk about their ‘choices’ without thought for the cultural drive behind them

    Can’t wait to hear the thoughts of all you intelligent women! :O

    x Sakura x replied 14 years, 1 month ago 15 Members · 15 Replies
  • 15 Replies
  • amcut

    April 25, 2010 at 5:25 am

    All these articles are written by people who seem to think anti-pornography feminism is the way… it’s kind of alarming that these types of feminists refuse to believe that the other, more sexually lenient and positive varieties have valid points.

    As though I must be disillusioned to use the word "empowered". By definition, I have BEEN EMPOWERED in every possible way. All thanks to pole dance. I refuse to be shat on by the same prudes that have been shitting on me and my ilk for thirty years now. Seriously, if we listened to these girls, we’d never have sex with the lights on.. if we had sex at all. Too much of a risk of appearing like sex objects… too much of a risk of appearing primitive and earthly and glorious.. like we actually live in our skin.

    Civil Rights.. Check. Freedom of Choice… Check. Freedom to Never Have a Man Look Admiringly at My Bits Because I’m a PERSON Before I’m a Woman…. Uhhhh. Thank sweet jesus we don’t have that one.

    Just as I have a mind, I have a pair. I don’t take either gift lightly.

  • sosagely

    April 26, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Ah, nothing says "feminism" like women telling other women that they cannot and should not be empowered by anything that may be sexual/sensual. Ha! It’s almost laughable. I consider myself a feminist, and pole has helped me become even more of a fighter for women. We ARE sexual and sensual and some (if not most) of us WANT AND NEED to let it out. From the moment we are born we are covered up as if our bodies are dirty. You see little girls who have no breasts yet, wearing bikini tops when swimming while the boys are allowed to go topless. Why? At that stage their upper bodies are identical. We are conditioned from the get go to be modest about our own bodies and pick other females apart. T.V. shows today openly have story plots about teenage boys going through their "masturbation phase" and it is accepted and laughed with. No mention of teenage girls discovering their bodies in the same way, just another message sent to girls that they are not to be sexual or enjoy sex unless a male is involved.
    These articles and their writers are just fueling the fire! I CAN’T STAND fake feminists. Yes, society often makes women sex objects, and it sucks. But I don’t think that it means I should suppress my sensual side for fear that men might have sex fantasies about me. I’ve felt degraded many times by men while innocently standing in the grocery store line or walking down the street! If that’s going to happen I might as well do what makes me feel happy, and that is pole. After reading articles like this, I can’t help but think that these "feminists" have the same mentality as the extreme religions/cultures that cover their women up from head to toe to keep men from fantasizing about them (like that helps). Why do women need to suffer because some men can’t handle themselves? Why can’t women, under any circumstances, be sexual? Articles like this hint that it’s women like us who are to blame for the way women are treated in society. hmmmm. This blaming of women isn’t such a new idea and is definately not something that any true feminist would think or say.
    Pole dancing was not an act of desperation for me to get my husbands (or any males) attention. In fact, other than spotting me occassionally to make sure I don’t fall and crack my head open, my husband hasn’t ever seen me dance. It has NOTHING to do with him, but EVERYTHING to do with me. I dance in my bedroom or dance studio for and to myself and feel fantastic afterwards. What is wrong and degrading about that? I suppose this is where the "feminist" would say "why does it have to be sexual? Why do you have to do it on a phalic symbol like a pole?" Where I say:
    "Because I am sexual and sensual and sick to death of hiding it. And what dance doesn’t have a sexual/sensual side? If you believe women should be equals, then shouldn’t that include showing that we are equal sexually? Men can be open about how sexual they are, why not women? Because someone (like you) will take it the wrong way? That’s just encouraging the suppression of women and their sexuality."
    As far as the men not being allowed in class thing, I suppose it never occurred to any of these "feminists" that it’s for the comfort of the women taking the class? It’s the same reason there are "women only "gyms. These writers are taking the issue of the class being "women only" and interpreting to mean that it’s grooming women to be sexy and hot for their lovers. It’s so ridiculous that these people can’t think beyond themselves and their own comfort levels.
    And…uh…let’s not forget what an amazing workout it is!!!!
    *whew rant over*

  • Solya

    April 26, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Eh, this is just getting more and more sad. I’m in the UK and I’m quite shocked how much abuse pole dancing has received in the past few weeks, especially since Cambridge have opened their pole club. Mind you, I think they should have scrapped the empowerment stuff from their communication, focusing on the sports aspect would have exposed them to a lot less abuse.

    "However, supporters reiterate that the classes will be strictly female-only. The acknowledgement that pole dancing must be hidden away from the peeping eyes of boys contradicts the Union’s denial that it exploits sweaty amateurs clambering upon poles, sticky with desperation."

    This is just gross. Sticky with desperation? Also, maybe the classes are female-only because the club doesn’t have male instructors yet, seems this hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind yet.

    Again, the author of this article failed to google pole dancing before writing an article on it, I’m really not sure how this could pass through the editors. The whole article just assumes that all Cambridge students (who must be *really* stupid and impressionable, of course…) will pole dance because they want to become strippers and deliberately destroy their intellectual integrity. Fairly insulting, isn’t it – especially written by a woman!

  • polefairy

    April 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I agree Solya, I think even the fact that intelligence was brought up in her article is quite offensive. Pole dancing is a physical activity, whether somebody does it for fun or fitness or both does not reflect on their intelligence. However, writing an ill-informed article on something you clearly have not researched does. (wink, wink Jessie)

    It seems that certain people still haven’t come to terms with the idea that a woman can be both intelligent and beautiful. If you’re smart, should you behave like an Ugly-Betty type book worm? Heaven forbid you should be intelligent and sexy, how intimidating, huh?!

    Just like the men who look at you in amazement for pole dancing when you’re not a gorgeous, 6ft, blonde, beauty queen or the ones who constantly talk about stripping when they know you don’t, this article screams insecurity and ignorance. The author does not have a clue and to sink as low as to question the intelligence of women who partake in these fitness classes – well, you couldn’t be blamed for sensing a hint of fear in her words. Similarly to the gentlemen who view pole dancing women as sexually objectified, Jessica Jennings is guilty of doing the same. The very nature of her article is piquing the same ignorant preconceptions that sexy women are sexy for men, not for themselves. What a terrifying concept – getting dressed up, wearing make up and dancing for anybody but yourself? Is this how the author feels? She certainly seems to be suggesting it.

    Having read her article, I’m not sure it’s the pole dancing women who appear to be repressed – there is nothing liberating in the idea that you cannot feel beautiful for yourself, Jessica.

  • Spinnesque

    April 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    It’s getting so boring listening to narrow minded people with no idea what they’re talking about.

    After taking up pole dancing last year and loving it I looked for a society back at my university, and when there wasn’t one – I set it up. There was loads of interest straight away just from the facebook group, and now having run it for a few months we’ve got 30 committed members who love coming every week. Yeh most of them were quite nervous at first and not sure what to expect, but have soon realised how much hard work it actually is! The social atmosphere is fantastic and we’ve had a couple of great nights out. A couple of the girls have even bought their own poles, and they love coming along every week to learn new stuff and have a play.

    People who insist that there is no way it can be separated from the sex side of it obviously don’t have a clue, and I’d like to see some of them give it a shot!

  • poledanceromance

    April 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Jesus that article reeks of judgement and paranoia of her own gender. Someone get this woman an xpole, a bottle of wine, and a bullet vibe STAT!!

  • Bex

    April 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    However, supporters reiterate that the classes will be strictly female-only. The acknowledgement that pole dancing must be hidden away from the peeping eyes of boys contradicts the Union’s denial that it exploits sweaty amateurs clambering upon poles…

    Jessica, you should protest Curves and every other Female Only fitness center! How dare they not allow men to watch them exercise and sweat!!! Women want to work-out with only women for a variety of reasons, self-confidence being one of them. I know I feel much more empowered in a gym/class with only women… men are too judgmental in positive and negative ways. Drooling over women who have tight abs and laughing at those who struggle just doing a mile on a treadmill.

    Obviously she has never taken a pole class!

    She isn’t a true feminist if she denies a woman the right to be sexy! She’s one of those girls who thinks sex or anything of the nature is just for the benefit of men and has probably never experienced an orgasm.

  • DeliciouslyDark

    April 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

    ANYTHING in the world can be sexual if you see it that way (or WANT to see it that way). There are people who eat strawberries all the time simply because they love them, and there are people who eat them all the time to increase their sex drive. Both are the same thing (a strawberry) but in intention completely different. Just like Pole Dancing. You can Pole Dance to attract guys or to become a stripper, or because it’s a fun, unique sport.

    Pole Dancing is only dirty if you want it to be. Just like watching TV and using the internet can be very dirty. You can use the internet, TV, or YouTube for porn. You can use YouTube to see naked people or you can watch it to see fitness videos and makeup tutorials. Same thing with Pole Dancing.

    I have a question. When writing an article, aren’t you SUPPOSED to be neutral? Somehow I don’t think "Supporters are wrong in saying that they can divorce pole dancing classes from the sex industries’ isn’t very neutral. And as for the crap about "Sadder than their naïveté", so now you’re calling us naive? You are talking about something you don’t understand, and probably don’t know anything about, and I highly doubt you’ve actually seen fitness pole dancing, not the stuff you see on TV and strip clubs, then you have the nerve to say WE are the naive ones?

    …one Women’s Officer asks how students who expressed distaste would feel if they were told that something they did was undermining the female population?

    Oh, OK. Sure. BLAME IT ON US. Don’t blame the media, and don’t you dare blame the guys who can’t control their sexual urges, no no. Blame US. Don’t even try and blame the girls who go around wearing super-slutty clothes – which is 10 times worse than pole dancing, since pole dancing does NOT have to be for a guy, it can be for you to do in the privacy of your own home. But wearing a mini-skirt and crop top and walking around the street with it on is definitely for people to look at you and whistle – no, blame the women who want to keep their body fit and feel sexy.

    disturbing motives behind a modern desire to learn a degrading dance over going for a run, blissful in the quiet of intellectual integrity.

    So now you’re saying we have no morals? Really? REALLY?

    the margins are liberated from the consumerist sexism prevalent in society, to which the debate over pole dancing classes is testament.

    Excuse me, byotch. Sexism was present from the BEGINNING OF TIME. Waaay before pole dancing ever came along. So how is sexism in society caused by pole dancing? In China for example, major sexism has caused people to actually KILL their baby girls, which has resulted in the major gender imbalance there. So you’re saying that it’s because of us that this happens? Yeah, makes PERFECT SENSE.

    The second article:

    "Shouldn’t men get the chance to be empowered too?”
    WHAT. a. piece. of – Men are ALREADY empowered you moron. Men have always had power/rights over women, until women STOOD UP and FOUGHT for their rights. And until this day, women all over the world in every single country are oppressed because they were born female.
    Most women/girls in this day and age have very little self confidence, and they’re pressured into thinking they need to look good to fit into society, so much that they’re beginning to STARVE themselves to lose weight and supposedly look better. So isn’t pole dancing what they need to feel sexy and confident in themselves and overall? AND to keep themselves fit?
    As for Diva Tommei: she’s reminding me how lucky I am to have logic and common sense.

  • PoleDanceABCs

    April 29, 2010 at 6:12 am

    We are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect. ~Henry David Thoreau

    I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped. ~Frederick Perls

    What we see depends mainly on what we look for. ~John Lubbock

    It is like a finger pointing to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger, or you will miss all of that heavenly glory. ~Bruce Lee


    I don’t want to get too into because I will… I have to hold back…. WE can’t divorce the sex industry from pole dance? Look who keeps bringing it up! We keep talking about feeling strong and having the best workout ever… I haven’t heard one girl yet say, "Oh I pole dance because I want to show my coochie to the WORLD! F me! F me! I don’t care about my body!"

    I’m still so surprised that people are shocked by pole dance. It is not like 10 years ago when there were only a few studios or limited teachers. Pole dance is international! We have studios across the globe! That deserves some gosh-darn recognition that isn’t negative. *hmph*

  • Danielle Tillie

    April 30, 2010 at 5:11 am

    I found another one… it’s gut-wrenching. I literally makes my heart ache, reading how unfair and judgmental these people are being. Get on those poles, Cambridge ladies! Get up there and prove these people (*cough*haters*cough*) what pole dancing is becoming!

    Here’s an awful quote: "Pole dancing is grim and I don’t see anything empowering about learning it. Even if you say that it’s just dancing and good exercise, surely it would be more empowering to learn a dance that can be employed in contexts other than strip clubs?"

  • PoleSkivvies

    April 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    What gets me most is it’s the same old, tired arguments that are always used when women do anything out of the norm. Somehow, the desire not to be seen as sexual objects in a time when very few other roles were possible, has become a demand that no woman be sexual, even when many roles are possible.

    I am a feminist, but have long felt that feminism has yet to get comfortable with sexual arousal and desire. It’s like, every generation, we keep saying and doing the same thing – it’s just now we’re saying and doing it about pole dance.

    Big sigh.

  • PoleKitten81

    May 1, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Ooohhhh…the guardian article made me really mad! But the comments underneath had me seething!

    The girl who said. ‘Girls, don’t do it, you’re only embarrasing yourselves’?! Seriously…it’s away from prying eyes which people are complaining about because it means men can’t do it or see it. Fact is there’s clearly a want for the class or no one would have suggested it, on top of that it’s away from prying eyes so the girls don’t have to feel embarrassed as they’re learning! It’s a catch 22, what ever they do it’ll be wrong!

    I have to laugh because it was my ex who bought me the pole, he’s a law graduate from Cambridge, he got high and mighty about a lot of things but he thought this was great, he appreciated that it was for exercise and made me feel better about myself, he also knew if I did dance for anyone it would only be for him.

    Clearly not everyone at Cambridge is completely anal or up themselves but I really think that the writers of articles focussing on the negative, perceived aspects of pole dancing, should be invited to a class to see how hard it is…then they might understand why it’s away from prying eyes!

    I do understand that articles like this serve a purpose, to inform and encourage debate…I wonder whether the writers actually believed the words they wrote? I wanted to write underneath the Guardian article but the comments section is now closed, am considering emailing the muppet that wrote it instead just to get his views and see if he can back up his claims of it being a ‘grim’ thing! Ok, rant over…

    Polekitten x

  • NightFall

    May 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I do understand that people who haven’t seen pole dance can’t get the image of the strip club out of their mind (i would have thought the same. It was just luck – and youtube- that brought the first pole dance video on youtube to my attention before the first pole dance school in Oxford opened).
    I used to hate people who brought class into every argument, but i have to say, the more I’ve thought about this subject, the more i see it is relevant. People who are saying "go for a run" assume it’s SAFE to do so in the area where these girls live. For most student diggs locations, this really isn’t true. Where I live, I’d need to run FRICKING fast so as not to get knifed and/or raped in the morning. Sorry, but it’s true. I’m not saying the area is THAT bad, but I’ve lived here long enough to know this does happen, if not as frequently as in some other "choice" areas. So, no. no running for me thanks.

    Same for the gym. After a certain hour, I’m not gonna walk it. I don’t have a car, I work outside of the city. I come home late. Gym is HARD for me to fit into my life. I need a workout that i can do at home. I love yoga, but there is only so many times a girl can do downward dog.
    These critics assume everyone has time and access to a gym, but it’s not so. My pole costs less over a year than even the council gym membership. Not everyone has safe areas to go running in. If i go to tango or salsa, I know i’m going to meet a lot of middle class people, and I can put money down that a fair number of them will be bilingual at least. I’m probably not going to meet any metalheads or goths there. Pole dance is actually appealing to all classes and backgrounds.

    Pole hasn’t gotten more popular for sinister reasons. it’s just easy to fit into a life. I don’t need a dance partner to practise. I don’t need to be at a certain place at a certain time. It’s a new thing for people who are bored of pilates, spin, yoga, etc. it’s more compact than most home gyms and setting up a pole workshop is a damn sight easier than setting up a roller derby or -and i’m guessing here- an aerial class. It’s a little bit competitive too, which is something other fitness things don’t really offer.

    I think the reason people are objecting are different to my first thoughts. I think they are unconsciously emoting that this is fine for "common" people, but not for posh girls with other options.

    another thing i wonder, is that the guys who object don’t like to be confronted with the idea that "that whore" on the pole is a real person. They don’t want to be forced to accept that by someone like their girlfriend or sister going to classes. It works better for them to have their fantasy girls in their head and their real girls safely at home or at work.

    At any rate, it really doesn’t matter. they can grumble and write away: they objected when women first wore makeup (they said only whores did this), objected when women perused education, the vote and later on work. They said all their objections were for our own good. It didn’t change anything. neither will this. Pole will get as popular as yoga, and there was a time only hippies did yoga. People were afraid of being told to believe in hindu stuff and it was a sort of weird thing. Then came Madonna and it became cool. So yeah, people can kick up a fuss but it won’t change anything.

  • x Sakura x

    May 1, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    "don’t see anything empowering about learning it" well give it a chance and you might! right?
    Oh I wish comments were still open for the entry! I can’t believe no one spoke out against that! Did over people read what people wrote on the end?

    I wish you were joking about this, pole dancing is empowering say Cambridge Union, how can clever people be so stupid

    Thanks for that! Sorry love but at least we’re not blindly making statements that we have no evidence for, been to a class have you?

    Any bloke who thinks that pole dancing is an empowering activity for women is a complete dimwit. Even worse a female who shares that view has not really grasped what sexism is about.

    As this happens at Cambridge the chance of real equality any time soon is pretty minimal.

    Enough said! Ignorance that’s what it is. I don’t know about you guys, but my most recent jam, did buttefly for the first time, my mate got gemini for the first time, we were hugging and crying and high fiving all over the place. Who can say that’s not an empowering experience.
    More importantly if we can put up with this nonesence and still have a smile at the end then I think we kind of proved our point.
    Shame on you mr mitchell! Talk to some actual pole dancers before you have a bitch next time!

  • x Sakura x

    May 1, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    At any rate, it really doesn’t matter. they can grumble and write away: they objected when women first wore makeup (they said only whores did this), objected when women perused education, the vote and later on work. They said all their objections were for our own good. It didn’t change anything. neither will this. Pole will get as popular as yoga, and there was a time only hippies did yoga. People were afraid of being told to believe in hindu stuff and it was a sort of weird thing. Then came Madonna and it became cool. So yeah, people can kick up a fuss but it won’t change anything.

    Forgot to say…LOVE THIS. You are soo right! Massive high five! x x x

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