[Rebecca Reid | Metro]

If you’re good at something, and you’re ambitious, you want to be the best of it.

When it comes to sport, being the best means (broadly speaking) the Olympics.

Which is why it matters that there is currently a debate over whether or not pole-dancing should be considered to become an Olympic sport.

The main objection to this idea?

As if you even need to ask.

Everyone knows that pole dancing is more than a form of stripping. Yes, it is a form of stripping and it does happen in strip clubs. It also happens in gyms and fitness studios and homes all over the world. And yet it seems like the former apparently totally outweighs the latter.

Pole dancing can be about making money from drunk city boys. I can also be about getting toned, working out, feeling great, improving your confidence or just having a laugh with your friends.

Men spending money is also something that happens in strip clubs. I don’t hear a call for them to be forbidden to use their wallets in any other area of their lives.

The fact that the association with women taking their clothes of is apparently so toxic, so dirty, so disgusting, that the activity must be denied a place on the world stage does rather tell you everything that you need to know about the way in which we view women.

There is nothing wrong with making money from pole dancing or stripping as long as you’re comfortable with it and it’s your own free choice.

There is a lot wrong with stigmatising women for wanting to pole dance just because it can be a source of income for women, or because men find it titillating to watch.

Not to be reductive here, but the gymnastics section of the Olympics already has a parallel bars section, where women perform impressive stunts on a set of horizontal bars. It’s pretty similar to what pole dancers do on a horizontal pole. Only, because the horizontal bars haven’t been ‘tarnished’ by the bad dirty women who dare to take their clothes off, it’s allowed some official recognition.

Refusing to make pole dancing an Olympic event shows how sexist sport really is

Other sports such as Netball, traditionally associated with women, has never been played at the summer Olympics. Which does rather seem to prove my point. Girl sports just don’t seem to garner the same respect or recognition.

Making pole into an Olympic sport might help to destigmatize it as an activity. Of course it shouldn’t need destigmatizing – the fact that women do it to make money isn’t a crime and shouldn’t be treated like one. But it must be frustrating to feel that something that you engage in for fitness and enjoyment might get you judged and could even call your professional reputation into question.

Allie, 24 from London told Metro.co.uk:

‘Personally it is a hobby I do for fitness that benefits me physically and mentally, and I think recognition of it as a sport helps to dispel the stigma so that I can honestly share my hobbies on CVs, work ice breakers etc. without fear of judgement as being unprofessional.

‘I guess if it were in the Olympics that would go a step further in challenging the stigma, but I’m not too fussed about the Olympics itself, more about people with supposedly liberal, feminist, attitudes still having an archaic view of what women choose to do with their own bodies.’

I know from personal experience what the reaction to pole dancing is usually like. I was practically chased out of the Bristol University Feminist Society in 2010 when I mentioned that the Fem Soc meetings clashed with the pole dancing ones. But unlike Allie, I am very fussed. I think that including pole dancing can and would help to erase that stigma.

Refusing to make pole dancing an Olympic event shows how sexist sport really is

If you’ve ever watched a talented person pole dance – not just a drunk woman on a Hen night – you will know that it’s hypnotic. It’s fascinating. It’s powerful and impressive and beautiful and a hell of a lot more interesting to look at than some of the other Olympic sports.

 

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