Pole Fitness - Empowerment or Exploitation?
Pole fitness is a popular form of personal empowerment for many women, both young and seasoned. However, in September 2016 the London Abused Women’s Centre caused considerable controversy when they withdrew from the 'Take Back the Night' women's march and demonstration because the organizers had agreed to welcome a demonstration by 'The Pole House', a local Pole Fitness club. This action, and several statements made by the LAWC sparked a war of words on-line between advocates for and against Pole Fitness, which in some cases became quite heated. Lori Graystone, the owner of Barrie's 'Rock n Pole' was one of the most outspoken voices in support of Pole Fitness, so we worked with her to get to the bottom of the question for women: does pole fitness represent empowerment or exploitation?
Pole fitness is not only a beautiful show of grace, it requires phenomenal strength across the body to be able to complete, especially in the core.
Take Back The Night is supposed to be an opportunity for women to stand together on a common front all over the world, united within their communities by engaging in a march and rally after dark with the message being to end violence against women in all of its forms; be it sexual, relationship, or domestic. Hundreds of events are held in dozens of countries each year. Some of them now welcome the support of men, while others remain loyal to the heritage of having only women in solidarity within their ranks.
It is not meant to be used as a platform through which closed-minded people, in this case women, can lash out at whatever they feel does not comply with their myopic vision of morality.
In a press release, the London Abused Women’s Centre justified their position by making a statement that our research shows has little if anything to do with reality.
"Pole-fitness emerged from pole-dancing in strip clubs—where women, whether there by ‘choice’ or not, are sexually objectified by men. They are leered at and groped at by men who view them as objects for their own sexual gratification. Women and girls are also sex-trafficked into strip clubs and other areas of the sex-trade. Pole-fitness cannot be separated from this history and context. The symbol of the pole is one of sexual objectification and violence against women. Thus, while pole-fitness may be empowering for individual women, it is not empowering for women as a whole. It is a reminder that our primary role in this society has been delegated to one where we are an object to be used and abused as men, and others, see fit.
Our research, conducted independently by both men and women, revealed that this statement is a Trump level lie that is based on nothing but conjecture, prejudice, and a heightened sense of self-righteous indignation.