It might seem like a paradox, right? Most people believe that when a woman dances seductively at a party or a club, she is degrading herself. That dancing exotically makes her look cheap and that she gets around. When she exposes her body freely to everyone who wants to look, she is not modest. She is not embarrassed or bashful. She shows off her curves more and more with each angle that she creates with her body as she bends over and arches and crawls. If you told your everyday father that his daughter would grow up to become a pole dancer, I’m sure he would feel as if he had failed as a parent. So….why would this style of dance be empowering?
Understanding how pole is empowering can be a bit complicated, but let’s just start off by saying this: it’s not about your friends, your family, or anyone else in your social circle. It’s for you. Just you. It’s a way for you to become more self-aware and to become comfortable in your own skin. When I attend class, I don’t pole dance for other people. I pole dance for myself and to embrace myself. Instead of being the subject of other people’s desires, I am just embracing my own femininity and confidence.
While I was going through engineering school back in college, I quickly learned that in order for myself to be heard and taken seriously, I had to suppress my femininity. I had to act like one of the guys. This way, my male classmates would not dismiss my rational thoughts as emotional or fleeting. At the same time, I was a committed member of a religious student organization that lead women to believe that if we don’t want the men in our organization to be tempted, then we should always dress and behave modestly and also be aware of how our beauty can cause them to backslide….
….but once I started taking pole classes, I realized that was never my responsibility. The moment I started pole dancing was the moment I started to feel like myself again. Pole dancing allowed me to be feminine and sensual without feeling a sense of shame. When I’m in pole class, I begin to recognize who I am, what I look like, what my strengths and abilities are, and what I can challenge myself to learn and do. You would be surprised to find out how many people don’t know what their own bodies look like.
For most members of the pole community that I know, this is our mindset during class. When we dance, we are saying:
This is my gorgeous body. This is my femininity. We are not ashamed of it. We embrace it. We feel positively about ourselves. We don’t feel contempt towards or guilt about our bodies. We are not hiding our femininity to make other people feel better about their social standards or moral conduct. Their moral conduct is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to be ourselves. We acknowledge that we are strong and beautiful as we dance. We love ourselves for it.