If you've missed this latest bit of news, the question plaguing British Columbia's court of public opinion is whether parents should sign their nine-year-olds up for pole dancing. Canadian fitness studio Twisted Grip has announced it's going to offer a regular Saturday class called "Little Spinners", and its owner Kristy Craig defends the action by claiming children will be getting a good workout rather than an introduction to the adult entertainment industry.
Craig, who already has four girls and a boy signed up for the class, insists that there's nothing wrong with her decision.
"There is nothing provocative. There is nothing sexual about it…It's pure fitness and strength and fun," she told ABC News. "I mean, kids love climbing trees. They will climb anything."
Apparently, Christy is not alone in thinking this is a good idea. Last year, London studio Make Me Fabulous offered pole dancing classes to children as young as three. "The girls love it. But it's not a wise idea to announce at school that you let your children pole dance," said one mother, whose daughters aged three and five both joined.
Pole Fitness and Dance Credit Image: © Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)
In Scotland, the Up Yer Pole studio accepts girls of six.
And in 2010, another Canadian pole dance instructor - Tammy Morris - offered classes to girls of five. Morris, who is also president of the Canadian Pole Fitness Association (yes, it really exists) said: "The kids just love it. They have no association with it or think there is anything wrong or bad about it. That's an adult putting that on them." Her classes were called Bellylicious, Sexy Flexy, Pussycat Dawls and Promiscuous Girls.
Craig and her cronies argue that pole dancing is more like a sport. In fact, there is a movement to make pole dancing part of the Olympics. The International Pole Sports Federation even hosted a world championship in London, days before the Summer Games in an attempt to get on the Olympic Committee's radar. The argument is that pole dancing takes fitness, strength, athleticism, and grace.
Pole dancing might provide a good workout. But is it really an appropriate activity for kids? There are literally hundreds of ways children can exercise and build muscles without involving something synonmous with sexuality. And protests to the contrary ring hollow. Craig's comparison of sliding a pole to Cirque de Soleil is as ridiculous as a strip club comparing itself to ballet.
In an interview, Craig claims mothers who already worked the pole demanded a class for their pre-pubescents,. Really? They demanded a class? I think the motivation may come from a different place. Shannon Rupp of The Tyee writes:
Pole dancing for girls probably appeals to the same sort of parents who dress their toddlers in thongs and T-shirts that say Porn Star. As the 2008 book The Porning of America points out, sexualizing children has become all the rage." She continues "...just because those mummies are dummies doesn't mean the rest of us have to be. The logical-if-absurd conclusion of embracing porn culture as just another art is that soon you and I won't just be tolerating it, we'll be funding it. (If the Olympics admit pole dancing government sports grants will be automatic in many places.)
So let's call a spade a spade. Is pole dancing really an activity appropriate for kids? No matter how adamently supporters claim that it's a sport or art or exercise -- we all know what images of women sliding on poles signify.
And, by the way - thanks mom, for signing me up for soccer rather than pole-dancing. I think that was a much better choice.
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