The View discusses the controversy of pole dance classes for kids

Whoopie is the sh*t, ok. Here the ladies of The View discuss the controversy of pole dancing classes for kids, and regardless of your viewpoint on that topic, Whoopie’s insistence that a pole CAN simply be another apparatus is totally refreshing! Added bonus, they replayed footage from my appearance on the show in May. Watch the clip here:  The View / Pole Dancing for Kids

Incidentally, when I was in Mexico City, I was interviewed by 15 a 20 magazine, which is billed like the Teen magazine of Mexico. One of the questions I was asked was how their readers (15 to 20-year olds, natch) could get into the sport. I was a little surprised by the question…and perhaps a little thrown off and said something about researching legitimate pole dancing schools that teach proper technique, and if your parents allow it, asking them to put up a portable pole in your bedroom.

This is a topic I’m still grappling with, as I do see how it’s possible to desexualize the sport/art (as I have sometimes been criticized of doing with my own dance!) but inherently, I do think pole dancing has, and should, have elements of sex appeal and subversiveness. That’s what attracted me to the artform in the first place. But are children and teenagers, who already deal with enough bullying and self-esteem issues brought on by their peers, ready to admit to the world, their fellow students (and their parents), and teachers that they pole dance? What do you guys think?


nata9841

12 COMMENTS
  • Chepo
    Reply

    Sherri Shepherd is a complete idiot. She didn’t know the world was round.

    Joy Behrar rules.

    1. nata9841
      Reply

      Well, hello Chepo!
      (and thanks for sharing your opinion. I am impartial either way.)

  • Jan Carraway Chavez
    Reply

    I agree with Charley 100%. Point well made! And Natasha, your routine at the CPDC 2010 was more than beautiful!! I was so drawn to it. Why can there not be a place in pole dancing for the erotic category and the gymnastic category? For both the adults and children? There are enough people out there that would give interest to both of these areas. Why throw the baby out with the bath water?

  • shimarella
    Reply

    I think getting kids off their butts and moving is a good thing, period. You can teach kids flexibility, strength & derring-do when you look at a pole as a vertical circus tool and when they perform on it as such, any skeeviness is purely in the eye of the puritanical beholder…waiting for those folks to come around is unrealistic. You don’t bring a viewpoint to the middle of the road without pushing from the edges.
    Having said that, I’m not interested in general in seeing pole become unsexy & sterilised for public acceptance, and my personal preference as a viewer and a poler is to reclaim the transgressive grown-sexiness of the form. So yes, to kids playing on the pole and even performing/competing as long as it doesn’t start nudging out the grown-ups.

  • Mary Ellyn Weissman
    Reply

    I love the sensual aspect of pole dancing and I support the fitness side of it. I can completely understand how pole can be non-sexual enough to be “child friendly”.

    However I do not feel that the world is ready to see children on a pole. I also think that we have a more important controversy to overcome when it comes to the general public denouncing even adult women on the pole whether we enjoy the fitness or the sensual aspects of it.

    I think Whoopi and Joy are correct…it’s just a pole and we need to get the word out there so that we are more supported.

    However, I think that “daring” the general public to accept that it’s ok for children to pole dance is too aggressive at this point in time of our growth.

    While I think Elizabeth’s comments were obnoxious and unsubstantiated I do believe she had a good point about publicizing pictures of children on the pole when the majority of the world does not see it as a non-sexual activity. It opens up new avenues for sexual predators who don’t need further encouragement.

    We’re going to further inflame those who are opposed to pole dancing by going to extremes too soon.

    Keep the concept of minors pole dancing private until we have grown more. I’m not saying they should not do it but it’s a bit of shoving it down everyone’s throats when you try to convince everyone that children can pole dance!

    1. Claire Griffin Sterrett
      Reply

      That’s exactly what I meant to say! You just said it more coherently ME! 🙂

  • Claire Griffin Sterrett
    Reply

    I oftentimes wonder if the trend we see towards the “de-sexualisation” of pole is really a reflection of our culture’s sex-phobia. It’s interesting that in Mexico, the inherent sensuality of the dance was not what the teen magazine was interested in focusing on or even concerned about.

    I agree that a pole can just be a pole. But I find it unfortunate. I got into this form of exercise for it’s sensuality and subversiveness as well, and it makes me a little uncomfortable to see it taken in the direction of vertical gymnastics. With that said, I would find it inappropriate for say, 7 year olds to be learning sensual moves on the pole. I agree with Charley: parents need to decide when and how to introduce their kids to sexuality. But pole dancing has its roots in exotic dance, striptease and burlesque. And by the way, all three of those forms of dance are different. Pole dancing has a history, it comes from the clubs, and it’s just not well known because it was never formally seen as an art. The question then is how do we define pole dancing today? Do we say, well it’s sensual in this studio but not in this one? Well it’s for kids here but not here? I just finished reading a book on the history of belly dancing. Belly dancing is something that was passed down from mother to daughter for centuries and learning the aspects of the dance was not just rooted in sensuality and pleasure, but was looked at as a rite of passage into womanhood. I think it would be delightful if we could see pole dancing the same way.

    Recently there was a little scandal about a studio in the UK that posted pictures of kids pole dancing on its website/FB. They defended themselves by saying there was nothing sensual about the pictures. There might not have been, but I still disagree with the studio’s decision to post the pics. Not because I think what the studio is teaching is inappropriate, but because they are putting images into the world and they have no control over how people will perceive them. As an adult, I can choose to post pics of myself pole dancing and deal with the outcome/stigma/reaction of what people perceive me to be doing, even if they are misguided. A child cannot even begin to understand that and should NOT be put in the public eye in that fashion. It’s irresponsible.

    Finally, there are deeply healing benefits to pole dancing and pole dancing sensually especially – for teenagers too. I am currently working on an article for a Psychology Journal in the UK that talks about this phenomenon and I write about it in one essay in my book. If what we are focusing on is changing people’s perceptions of sexuality and sensual displays, then I think we need to be strong and clear in our own views and choices with regards to sensuality. At the very least, this will offer children a positive model, whether they pole or not.

  • Charley
    Reply

    I think we should take a moment and consider other forms of dance we allow our children to perform and do not find inappropriate like hula dancing and belly dancing. Both of those styles of dance come across to me as being very sexual and sensual. So, how is climbing a pole MORE sexual than hip gyrations and skimpy costumes?

    Additionally, there needs to be room for all kinds of pole dancing. Pole dancing can be so many things and there is no reason our children shouldn’t be allowed to partake in the fun; after all, at the end of the day, those of us who have been drawn into pole are doing it because it’s fun.

    It’s our responsibility as adults to teach our youth about sexuality when the time is right. When it comes to teenage girls, we need to educate them by giving them the truth. There are many, many young women who were never exposed to pole dancing who have decided to become strippers, I doubt having pole experience will encourage women into that type of vocation. I think proper knowledge is the key to helping young women make the right decisions. It’s not the pole that is wrong with the strip club industry…it’s the owners of clubs holding girls financially hostage, drug addictions, alcohol addictions, poor decision making with customers and a whole host of other the things, the pole isn’t what makes stripping *not the best vocation.*

    I believe we need to make room in our lives for all styles whether sensual or desexualized.

    BTW, Natasha, I find you very sexy 😉 I don’t agree with those who say you desexualize pole, you certainly have a unique, beautiful and sensual style.

    1. nata9841
      Reply

      Charlie, you raise a good point in regards to hula and belly dancing — but while those dance forms are indeed sensual, they have a historical/cultural context that pole dance hasn’t achieved — YET. I have a theory that in 50 years pole dance will be mainstreamed to the point that we might even forget its origins as coming from the strip club. And is that a good or bad thing? I’m not so sure.

      I do think however, that there is an aspect to pole dancing that is very much empowering because it encourages women to get in touch with their sexuality. It allows them to explore the taboo in a safe, non-judgmental environment, sometimes under the guise of just women, sometimes not. I guess it’s up to parents to decide whether their teenagers are ready to explore this, but I think it takes maturity to understand the implications of this form of dance when done in a public (competition, performance) setting. It also takes a change in the public perception of pole dancing. Inevitably, whether you like it or not, men see a pole and their minds immediately see the apparatus and performer as a sexual object. Just like what (I think – I couldn’t catch the first part of her sentence) Elizabeth H. said on The View, the male audience left with a ‘you know what’ after my appearance on The View, even when my performance was relatively neutered and ‘family friendly.’ (but thank you, Charlie for still finding me sexy 😉

    2. Jan Carraway Chavez
      Reply

      I completely agree with you! You could not have said it better my friend!!!

  • Zinmd
    Reply

    I’m not too sure how I feel about this. Yes, it is empowering for women to pole dance. I believe that pole dancing has let me explore the more sensual side of myself through movement and dance. I don’t know how I feel about younger women doing it…I think that young girls are already sexualized enough without adding this to the mix. Our sport is still very much stigmatized, with many of us being called strippers and whores by folk who don’t understand it. I also like that my dance studio is 18+ because it allows for fully-developed women to tune into their bodies…I think a part of me is afraid that if younger girls get too into this that their growth and development could be stunted, much like that of female gymnasts…

    I dunno…maybe I’m just afraid for them after seeing too many 13 and 14 year-olds becoming mothers…

  • miriam
    Reply

    why is a vertical pole so different from a horizontal one?

    anyway, i agree with the point that most of these arguments make: the problem is the perception of sexuality, not that what the kids/teens/you are doing is overtly sexual. we need to take responsibility for our hyper-sexualised culture and perceptions and not blame the artist/performer and punish them (ahem… bill henson)

    http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=nSBD_KTxL2I

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