Feminist Friday: Am I Still a Feminist While Dancing on a Pole?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pole Dancing in Lagoon
Image by Lululemon Athletica via Flickr/Creative Commons

Reese Witherspoon lied.

A few years ago in an interview with Glamour magazine, the Academy Award winning actress said that she felt much sexier as a 30-something than she ever did in her 20s. Inspired, I cut out this quote and glued it to my vision board, certain that once in my 30s I’d finally feel sexy. But 30 came and went and no such luck.  
So it was on to plan B in my quest to feel sexy – pole dancing classes! And to live up to my nickname Writeous Babe, of course, I wrote about my experience. You can check out the article here on My Scoop. 
While twirling my body around that vertical steel bar, however, I got to thinking "Is this anti-feminist?" 
Some of the feminists I admire most have argued that the sexiness offered in striptease aerobics classes is fabricated and based on the male gaze.
Sure, many women may attend pole dancing and striptease aerobics classes with a man in mind. Some of the women I interviewed for the My Scoop article admitted that they wanted to leave the class with a few ideas to bring home to their husbands. But is that really so bad? 
And with all the girlish giggling that goes on at these classes, they feel more like a slumber party or a ladies night out than anything and seem to have very little to do with impressing men. 
Furthermore, I believe that unorthodox fitness classes like these encourage women to make the time to exercise because these classes make getting fit fun; and I believe that they can help stressed-out moms feel sexy again.
What I do struggle with, though, is the idea of sexiness. When we say these classes make women feel sexy how exactly are we defining that word? I frequently ask myself: Does sexy simply mean men find me attractive or does sexy mean I love my body because it’s healthy and strong?
What I've realized is that all these years when I've been saying I want to feel sexy what I've really meant is I just want to feel confident and comfortable in my own skin, regardless of how much I weigh or what I'm wearing. Obviously, I don't need to take pole dancing fitness classes for this to happen. But while I was twisting my hips in that mirror I realized that I'm a lot more self-confident than I thought and I realized that maybe Reese Witherspoon was right after all. 

8 comments:

  1. i would break my arm in one of those classes!!

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    1. Ha! The classes are very tough. My arms and legs were sore when I left. It's a good workout.

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  2. High Five to feeling confident and comfortable in your skin! It's a glorious feeling and I'm all for some pole dancing to boost self esteem!

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    1. Thanks, C. Love. It's weird. I don't think the class boosted my self-esteem, it just made me realize I am a lot more confident than I thought.

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  3. I think by even asking the question "is pole dancing anti-feminist" is a huge signifier that feminism is not where it should be. Although I identify as a feminist, I reject any notion that proposes that women should act x way because if we don't, we are ruining the hard work of those before us.

    I think at the core of the issue for me, is the tremendous amount of pressure I feel for being a perfect representative of my race, and of my gender. And when identifying with a progressive movement, like the feminist one, I expect it to be the release I need it to be so that I can focus on the things that really should matter. What do you think?

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    1. Excellent point, Demetria. I completely agree that it's a problem that there is still a notion that a feminist is supposed to act or look a certain way. And that's exactly the type of thing I want to discuss on this blog with my Feminist Friday column. I've been told by people I'm not a real feminist because I like makeup and high heels. And you and I both know that's ridiculous.

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