I am perplexed by the apparent craze for pole-dancing. It may not in fact be a craze, but we certainly seem to be hearing more about it these days. Marketed as ‘pole fitness’, its proponents are quick to stress the physical benefits of the classes, as well as the fact that they are ‘fun’. Quite apart from the fact that hanging upside down clinging on to a metal pole doesn’t particularly strike me as ‘fun’ (although I do recognise that this is probably a personal perspective), I find it hard to separate in my mind the notion of ‘fitness’ from the notion of degrading sexual entertainment, performed by women for men, in strip clubs.
I doubt that I am alone – I would find it hard to imagine that any practiser of ‘pole fitness’ is not aware of its sexual connotations, so the question is – can this activity be reclaimed and/restored to ‘innocence’, or at least to a state where it is entirely unconnected with its more demeaning form? Even if it can, eventually – and the ‘pole fitness’ enthusiasts will in due course take their positions as great liberators of women – then surely this is an adult struggle, and not one for our children?
Why, then, are we introducing our children – girls, of course – to this activity, at an ever earlier age? Last week it was reported in The Sun that seven-year-old girls were taking pole-dancing classes … and pictures of them were being posted on Facebook by their parents. If their parents really do not see the psychological and practical dangers in introducing their seven-year olds to a heavily sexualised adult activity, then I think we have failed somewhere along the line in our society to pass on the wisdom of ages – of what it means to be a child, and of what it means to be able to grow up rather than miss out on the process altogether.
Still, this realisation just makes it all the more important that we do stand up and that we are counted when we see our children exposed to age-inappropriate messages about sex and sexuality. Our children deserve a childhood.