Swansea University Students’ Union trustee board recently banned >> the pole fitness society for promoting a ‘Raunch Culture’.
The Women’s officer who voted to ban it and the president of the pole fitness society bringing it to media attention, debate the issue of the ban for the first time.
YES – Rosie Inman, Women’s Officer
THE popularity of pole dancing as a form of exercise has soared in the last few years, with it being branded as an empowering and fun way for women to keep fit.
I don’t for one second doubt the hard work and dedication needed to become a skilled pole dancer, nor do I have any less respect for women who partake, whatever their reasons.
However, attaching the label ‘empowering’ to something doesn’t necessarily make it so.
Advertisers and the media have been using the term for years to prop up and market unrealistic standards of femininity.
Though some women may choose to enter the sex industry voluntarily, many more don’t. These women are victims of human trafficking, an industry that millions of women and girls worldwide are enslaved in.
These women are not empowered – they have been stripped of power over their own lives and forced into a world of sexual exploitation.
To call pole dancing empowering is an insult and mockery of the women stuck in this world.
Maybe you think I’m over complicating things and that pole fitness is just a bit of fun, but there is an inescapable social and political context to everything we do.
Pole fitness normalises an industry that thrives off the degradation of women and continues to feed into the objectification and sexualisation of women in every area of our lives.
Furthermore, even those women who choose to pursue pole dance as a hobby don’t make that choice independently from external pressures. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy it, but we live in a culture that tells women their worth as is directly proportional to how sexually attractive they are.
As a Students’ Union, we are committed to ending this culture – as are our students who voted our Zero Tolerance policy through Student Forum – which is why we chose not to approve the Pole Fitness society.
NO – Bethan Morris, President of the Pole Fitness Society
POLE fitness is a great way for anybody to improve flexibility, strength and coordination in a fun environment; lessons are open to both males and females.
Classes are taught in a dance studio by Dawn Roberts, a 4 star PDC approved instructor (the highest level qualification achievable) and should be treated like any other form of dance fitness class, such as Zumba or Bokwa. For the Students’ Union to suggest that the class is provocative or overly sexualises the participant in any way is ludicrous.
There are no spectators and participants do not perform; I believe that these thoughts stem from a preconceived idea of pole dancing and are largely down to stereotypes.
Other universities in Wales and the UK have pole fitness societies and have incurred little or no objection from their student unions.
Cardiff University pole sport has now been fully accepted into the athletics union which is why I was so shocked with the ruling that the society was unsuitable.
Members of the pole dancing community have been doing so much good work recently in campaigning and showing the public that pole fitness is not a spin-off of the type of performances you would see in a gentleman’s club but is in fact a very demanding and skilful art form.
The International Pole Sport Federation hold world championships each year that see competitors from over 30 countries compete and are currently campaigning for pole fitness to be recognised and included as an Olympic sport.
Why the union would want to shut down a society that promotes fitness, healthy lifestyle choices and builds confidence in young adults is beyond me.
I believe without a doubt that the decision they have made is the wrong one.
Who’s right? What’s your opinion? Comment below!