Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thoughts On 5 Year Olds Pole Dancing


'Pole Waxers University Pole & Exotic Dance Studio' photo (c) 2011, Robin Olson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
In part of one of his stand up routines, comedian Chris Rock quipped that a father's job is to keep his daughter off the pole.  It seems that a fitness studio in Duncan, British Columbia, has a very different opinion about pole dancing.
The 'Little Spinners' sessions have been added to the timetable at a Canadian fitness studio, alongside 'Flexy Sexy' and 'Babes on Bikes' classes.

Instructor Kristy Craig has insisted the classes are focused on fitness and that children are not taught any 'sexual moves', but a child psychologist has warned that parents should be conscious of pole dancing's association with stripping and the sex industry.

Girls and boys aged between five and 12 have already been enrolled in the controversial classes at the Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness studio in Duncan, British Columbia. [source]
From a child's perspective, I can see how this would be great fun.  They get to climb on the pole do twists and turns and generally speaking, burn off some excess energy.  A child as young as five would not be able to make the sexual connection, nor would they understand it if they could. From an exercise standpoint, to excel at this, they would have to be in great shape and develop new muscles as well as improved coordination. None of these factors can possibly be denied, yet there is a part of me that is forced to ask, do we really need our daughters on a pole? For boys I think it is an interesting way to challenge gender norms, but when it comes to girls, I cannot help but worry.


We have a tendency to sexualize little girls from a very early age.  I don't think that the problem is that pole dancing is bad but that it is clearly linked to adult sexuality in a way that ballet, gymnastics etc., are not.  Even in classes for children like jazz, or hip for instance one does not have to look to far to find young girls dropping it like it's hot at the behest of an instructor.  Moves that appropriate for Beyonce to do on stage, are not appropriate for a young girl because they teach a young girl how to sexualize her body before she knows what this means, or if this is the message she chooses to impart to others. There's also the issue that these kinds of things are ripe to become masturbatory tools for sexual predators. The problem with this class for me lies in the potential to sexualise rather than the absolute assumption that it will sexualise.

There has been much rush to judgement as far as these classes are concerned. It is after all fair to state that whatever skills picked up in the pole activities could most certainly be picked up in other activities without the risk of children being sexualised but on the other hand, is it fair to deprive children of an activity that they love if such activity can be done innocently?  I am usually quite decisive in my opinions but in this case I think a wait and see attitude is more appropriate.  If the teachers can teach them to climb and swing and embrace the activity without sexualising the performance then I say why not.  There was a time when it would have been unheard of for women to be taking pole dancing classes let alone installing them in their bedrooms.  Everything is subject to change and what was taboo yesterday can quickly become acceptable today.

What are your thoughts on the classes?