Pole fitness ban sparks huge backlash

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The students’ union’s rejection of Swansea Student Pole Fitness Society and the YES/NO debate between women’s officer Rosie Inman and Beth Morris, President of Pole Fitness Society, have generated a huge response.

Since the articles first appeared in The Waterfront, the story has generated a great deal of comment on the internet and social media. The story has also been taken up by The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, the South Wales Evening Post and Wales on Sunday.

The Pole Fitness Society created the group ‘Swansea Pole Campaign’ on 16th October “when we realised that the issues were becoming widely known” explained treasurer Heidi Muir.

Within five days the group has attracted almost 250 members who have joined to show support for this campaign, Ms Muir claims “…to date we have not found anyone supporting the union’s views.”

In response to the rejection of Pole Fitness Society, the pole dance community (PDC) sent an open letter to the students’ union stating they had three options: “You must justify your position, you must reverse your decision [or] you must resign your positions on the board”.

Thus far, Ms Muir said that they have received “no response from the union”.

President Beth Morris said: “We are waiting to see what happens over the next week with regards to a response from the union. If we don’t get a response then we will go down the route of petitions.”

Many comments beneath the articles featured arguments suggesting that the board of trustees did not appear to have beliefs representative of Swansea University students.

Richard Cowie, a former section editor of The Waterfront, said: “The point of the elected officers is to act in the best interests of the student body in Swansea rather than personal opinions of the officers themselves.”

Katie Druce suggested women’s officer Rosie Inman “should have spoken to the girls she’s supposed to represent… rather than making such wide-sweeping generalisations. Far from over-complicating anything, her arguments are over-simplified and poorly informed.”

The students’ union’s board of trustees stated they wanted to end ‘raunch culture’ which “tells women their worth is directly proportional to how sexually attractive they are” and as such rejected pole fitness.

Commenters, however, drew comparisons with students’ union organised club night events which are, according Richie Cowie ‘marketed on sex’.

Another Swansea student, Rhiannon Sandy pointed to the ‘#Guilty’ event held in Oceana, endorsed by the union. In promoting the event, the union tells us to ‘Imagine all the FRESHBOOK fun with ‘Big Screen’ live SnapChat banter’.

Rhiannon Sandy claims the event ‘promot[ed] the idea of ‘slutshaming’ as students were asked to hold placards stating they were ‘guilty’ of ‘sending naughty snapchats and slutdropping on the dance floor’.

The Halloween Ball is also being marketed as ‘Dead Sexy’.

Heidi Muir wanted to clarify that “Views being expressed and comparisons made… are the thoughts of individuals on the page… and is not necessarily the views of the Pole Fitness Society”.

In relation to the board of trustees stating that ‘women have been deceived into thinking [pole fitness] is a way of taking charge of their sexuality and their own decisions’; Ms Sandy replied she was “aggrieved to find that I am not believed capable of making a rational decision”.

“Obviously I was deceived into thinking that I am an independent woman! And how deluded was I to think that there is absolutely no excuse for assault!

“This is an inexcusably out-dated viewpoint and the trustees should be ashamed of themselves.”

Rosie Inman’s comment article argued that: “Pole fitness normalises an industry that thrives off the degradation of women and continues to feed into the objectification and sexualisation of women.”

Hollie Downer, another commentator on the issue said: “[I] fail to see how women telling other women what they can and cannot do is any different from a man telling a woman what she can or cannot do – yet the latter is sexist and wrong while the former pretends to be ‘in everyone’s best interests’?

“How about you let women make their OWN decisions what exercise they want to do, if you don’t agree that’s great don’t go – simply as!”

Samira Javadi also pointed that “Pole doesn’t objectify and degrade women, people do.”

Blogger ‘Spin Doctors’ wrote: “The SUSU has completely failed in its mission to combat sexism… it has enforced sexist ideologies and humiliated many of its female members.”

The society say they have never had a chance to meet the trustees to put their case forward.

When asked for a response, a spokesperson for the students’ union said: “Representatives from the Pole Fitness Society were contacted and the reasons behind the decision were explained in full to them.”

The students’ union have failed to comment further on the matter.

The trustee board have met since the story first broke, but decided to stand by their original decision.

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