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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Dirty dancing
By Jacqui Head

Pole dancing class
A bruising experience- literally

Pole dancing is now promoted as a legitimate form of exercise, and dance, but is it really just about keeping fit?

When I first told my friends I had taken up pole-dancing classes - all in the name of fitness - I expected, apart from a few raised eyebrows, general cheers of encouragement.

Instead I was given a three-hour lecture on why I was "perpetuating the culture of pornography that we live in". Perhaps it was optimistic of me - most of my friends are feminists.

Despite my protestations that this was purely about toning up and doing a bit of acrobatics in a fun, supportive environment, it did start me thinking.

Are classes like these - now booming in popularity - really breaking ties with their historical stereotype, or are they only serving to further the image of women as sex objects?

Degrading

For me, it was the lure of doing something acrobatic and a bit different that drew me in to the classes. And when I joined I found a group of like-minded girls.

Annis Kooshesh, a 27-year-old HR coordinator, and Brigitta Busak, a 31-year-old graphic designer, both say they take the classes to get fit.

"I took the class mainly for a fun way to build up my upper body strength, boost my confidence levels and also to make myself feel sexier," says Brigitta.

And although many may not believe it, the classes are tough. They're more awkward than sexy, requiring solid concentration and a lot of strength.

Pole dancing
Pole-dancing clubs are big business
But despite my good intentions I was still selective about who I told - and rightly so. Most of the male reaction I got was "so when do I get a show?" I had to confess, it wasn't like telling people I'd taken up tennis. But should it be?

Simon Hinks, deputy director of sport at the Bristol Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health says while pole dancing is not a traditional form of exercise, it's still something that strengthens most of the muscle groups.

"We don't see it as a sport but we do see it as a valid form of exercise," he says.

But he adds: "I don't think you can do pole dancing as your only fitness. It could form a small part of an overall exercise programme."

Alison Hudd, the 28-year-old owner of Pole People - a London based pole-dancing school - sees pole dancing as "an art form in its own right".

"I've always loved ballet and other forms of dance. When I first saw pole dancing I realised what a beautiful art form it is and it's a really fun way to get fit.

"When I set up Pole People the main point was to provide a space to learn to dance, free of the context of what it had been known as."

Art form

But feminist Sheila Jeffries, author of Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West, says this new dance craze has nothing to do with fitness. She sees it as degrading to women and an excuse to allow pornography into the mainstream.

"Often when pornography is normalised it comes in the form of art," she says. "The same has happened with burlesque. We are now in what I call the 'pornographication' of culture."

She says women are being told that "correct exercise" is something that has its roots in prostitution.

I don't think the feminist cause has reached its end but I don't think denying ourselves the fun of pole dancing is going to help
Alison Hudd
Pole People

"Pole dancing is perpetuating a culture of prostitution. It's not actually prostitution because they're in a class but it's the codes of prostitution and practice that they are engaged in."

Ms Jeffries says over the last two decades the divide between music, fashion and pornography has been broken down, to the point where the "codes of pornography are now in".

"How have we come to this, where a vicious industry that does something so horrible to women and girls has become so normalised? It's desperate. What it shows is that women are far from being equal."

It's a tough argument. Are we really letting the female side down this strongly? Ms Hudd doesn't think so.

Fake

"We are teaching it as a form of dance, not as a way to please men," she says. "The consideration I made when I set up the course was that it was a way of people dancing and expressing themselves.

"I don't see why a woman dancing in a more sensual way has to be something that's wrong. Why can't it be something to celebrate? I would love to take these feminists to a class and ask them if it's perpetuating prostitution."

But what do men think of all this?

Peter Howarth, former editor of Esquire, where he was famed for taking women off the front cover, says pole dancing could be perceived as a step forward for women in terms of allowing them to be more open about their sexuality.

He says it falls in line with the "Sex and the City phenomenon" and women who have taken sex retail out of the hands of the "dirty male brigade and out into the open".

"It kind of makes sex less scary and less taboo and possibly you could argue pole dancing is similar and you could see that as being positive," he says.

But Steve Beale, editor-at-large of Arena magazine, says we are "in a culture in which everybody is told to love sex", that pressures people to follow the trend rather than be honest about what they enjoy.

"Personally, I think girls are buying into [pole dancing] because it's trendy," he says. "We call them 'fake dirty' - it's a big men's saying because there are so many of these girls [doing pole dancing] who are not actually very sexual. There's something very cold about that.

Shallow

"It's disingenuous in that the same person that goes to a class would turn their noses up at a pole dancing club. It's very shallow."

But Ms Hudd says it's "frustrating" when others criticise something that is boosting people's fitness and confidence.

"I don't think the feminist cause has reached its end but I don't think denying ourselves the fun of pole dancing is going to help," she says.

At the end of the day, I'm feeling stronger and proud of the tricks I can do, despite the bruises, although I can't say my conscience is completely at ease.

But for the moment I've convinced myself that this is perfect training for my next challenge - trapeze.


I can empathise with the woman who says that she took pole dancing classes to make herself feel sexier (amongst other reasons). But that in itself is slightly worrying to me; why is it that "feeling sexier" should result from an activity designed to titillate men? And, why should this lead to a boost in confidence levels?!
Sarah, Sheffield

Surely the point of feminism (for me) was to allow and empower women to do what they want, when they want - regardless of what men think. I've done a pole dancing class and there was nothing sexy about me landing in a heap on the floor! As an exercise class it's great fun and very difficult.
Carolyn Mitchell, Manchester

Just another sign of the degradation of society. Any woman desperate enough to argue that pole dancing improves their confidence and fitness, needs to urgently address why they are so unfit and unhappy to turn to a practice commonly regarded as smutty. A young male, im far from the grumpy old man era, all i see and recognise here are women needing reassurance in a culture perpetuating vanity.
Christopher , Oxford

On what basis do feminists decide whether something is degrading or not? Surely, it all depends on whether the person in question feels degraded by the activity she or he performs?
Jonathan Davies, London, UK

I'm sure I read somewhere that we lived in a society of choice and freedom...? How can this be seen to be exploiting women when women choose to go to the class? Are the classes watched by men sitting in tables and giving money to the women dancing? Erm .. no! People who say it's exploitation really need to get a life and focus on more important things that really ARE exploiting women across the world. Pole Dancing classes don't fall into that category.
Sian Healy, Fleet

Steve Beale's opinion that it is disingenuous for someone to go to a lesson but who turn their nose up at a pole dancing club is not clearly thought out. I would love to go to a lesson, but also think that 'attached' men who go to pole dancing clubs are being unfaithful by watching other women in that environment. The difference for me is that going to a lesson is not a sexual experience, whereas the men who go to pole dancing clubs invariably are going for the sexual aspect of the dance.
Alice Spencer, Northampton, UK

Yes, pole dancing is exploitative. ...but only of the men who part with their cash for it.
Ben, London

It's amazing to see how women are allowing men to use them as sexual objects thinking that they are attaining freedom. I can see very clearly that women are getting exploited everywhere in this world- in boardrooms, in sports, in films, in fashion industry, in porn industry, so on and so forth. Yet, women continue to "offer" themselves to men for bringing their nefarious designs to reality without even realizing that they are being degraded and exploited.
Naveen, Bangalore, India

A fairly typical feminist over-reaction from Sheila Jeffries. They see everything as exploitative. Pole dancing is incredibly physically demanding, and requires huge acrobatic ability - just as much as the horizontal bar and parallel bars. Somehow, just because the vertical bar is called a "pole" it becomes pornographic? I think not! There's absolutely no reason I can think of to prevent it becoming an olympic event - maybe in 2012?
John, Nottingham, UK

Another dance that has it's roots in prostitution, the exploitation of women and so on is the Argentine Tango. It is also sublimely beautiful, and Tangueros are not prostitutes. Times change. Perhaps the best way to stop pole-dancing being about exploitation is to bring it into the mainstream as an art form. And, if you don't like, don't do it, but let others decide for themselves.
JS, London UK

You don't have to be a feminist to think that pole dancing is exploitative. It only one up from stripping - which could also claim to a sort of exercise. The object is to titillate male desire, not in a personal way, but as a commodity.
John Lloyd, Exeter

The point is that pole dancing like prostitutions is to get money from men ie exploiting men's weakness. Personally, I think it just makes women look silly.
Dave, Bristol

If pole dancing is simply "something that is boosting people's fitness and confidence", why don't you talk about the males who have tried it and agree? I would like to hear about that...
Ivy Summers, Boston, MA, USA

I got myself fit and energised by doing a ladies only self-defence class taught by female instuctor. And being fit and healthy has made me feel very sexy and confident - without the need to wind myself around a pole!
Heather, Luton

How many men are taking up this demanding and acrobatic form of exercise? If zero, then I'm sure that settles any debate on whether pole dancing is exploitative.
Paul Schleifer, Chiswick

I'm a man and I¿m proud to say that I've tried pole-dancing. It is pretty demanding - many of the moves involve a lot of coordination and upper body strength. Why/how have I tried it? My girlfriend had a pole in her bedroom and I was intrigued. Once I'd tried it she couldn't keep me off the thing ¿ not because it made me feel sexy ¿ but it was just fun exercise. Ultimately don't most of us enjoy feeling sexy - and often its reactions from other people that enforce this feeling? Isn't that one of the reasons people do any sort of get-fit? Is that being exploited?
phil, London

The defenders of these classes are promoting pole dancing as being 'sexy' for women. It isn't - it's sexy for the men watching it. Even if it's in an all-female setting, what does it say about our society that women see this as empowering? Female sexuality shouldn't be about performing for men.
Lucy, London, UK

I could not think of anything thing more unerotic than some woman strapped for cash, rubbing herself up a piece of aluminium in some sad Ann Summers clothes.
tery, Lyunndfulldd

To answer Paul Scleifer point, I have several men that attend my pole dancing classes.
FW, Manchester

Why are so many women so desperate to make themselves 'feel sexier'. To me that denotes a lack of self confidence and in my humble male opinion a woman at ease with herself is far more sexier.
Steve, Derby

It's exercise, is it? So you'll all be wearing trainers then?
Jill Arscott, Brighton

As a male pole dancer I am fascinated to hear how it creates a culture of 'prostitution'. Could it be that if men and women were doing this and there wasn't some ridiculous 'double standard' about when women do something they are being exploited - when men do it it's 'ust a bit of fun'. Lets not blur the line between real prostitution and a form of dance - which is no more 'smutty' than salsa and tango.
Ross, London UK

I have no problem with pole dancing - it can be pretty to watch but that isn't on my mind when I watch it. What modern female culture seems to forget is that many men don't care whether pole dancing and other expressions of female sexuality go under the title of 'empowerment', 'art' or 'exploitation', the end result is the same.
Martin, Hemel Hempstead, UK

Pole dancing... is addictive, wonderful and a great way to make friends. As I head out to my advanced course tonight, I'd just like to ask you. Swinging on the Monkey Bars at school wasn't a degradation of our "feminist" rights, why the heck would this adult derivation of this be degrading, albeit with a vertical instead of horizontal pole? It's the same principle, pushing your body and breaking through your fears. Are you aware that a group of professional women raised £8000 in one night for women's charities by getting a group of people together for a charity poledance? Is raising money to benefit women less fortunate than ourselves degrading?
Fiona, Wimbledon

What's the difference between salsa dance classes and pole dancing classes apart from the pole? Salsa is considered a sexy dance but I don't hear the public complaining about people taking Salsa dance lessons?
Rachel, London

Surely as long as long as the person doing this is happy and nobody is getting hurt in the process then what on earth is wrong about doing something that makes you feel good? life's too short as it is and we all need to live it despite what others may think! If it offends you, don't look, and don't do it yourself but for gods sake don't put others down for taking part in it. As for it just being a performance for men, how wrong can that statement be, there are plenty of females out there that sit in the crowd among men that watch it! Anyone that does it or is thinking of doing it........enjoy yourself!!!
Kelly Louise Gara, northwich, cheshire

COMMENTS: Surely it's up to the person who chooses to attend the class and no-one else? Ss for stripping being exploitative, I have many friends who are strippers, one has even built up a property portfolio worth over £1m solely through this income, I can honestly say that she doesn't feel in the least bit exploited, there is a difference between stripping, poledancing and prostitution. perhaps people condemning this should wake up and realise its a matter of free choice. I've never been to a strip club, and have no desire to, but I known these girls as friends for over 10 years, they're perfectly happy to take their clothes off for money, the sort of money they couldn't dream of earning any other way. if people are happy to pay them money in return for some titillation (because that's ALL it is) then more fool them
Fletcher, brighton

We can't solve the exploitation of women by wagging our finger at the normal procession of culture from marginal (e.g., ragtime played in a brothel in 1899) to respectable (e.g., ragtime played at Carnegie Hall in 1976). Rather, we need to start 1) paying women the same as men, 2) ensuring women have benefits they need like paid maternity leave and affordable child care.
J, Urbana IL USA

It's only exploitation if you let it be. I don't think I could do it as I'm not in good enough shape to, which says to me it has be good exercise. what about women pole dancing for women is that still exploitation?? if its not women have a double standard in there favour and its us men that should be up in arms about it or just that women don't really have a right to object unless it is only part of a big exploitation.
Richard, cornwall

Why does no one get that the whole point of us doing pole dancing in gyms and at home in normal gym wear and not in clubs in high heels and underwear is that we are claiming pole dancing for OURSELVES!! Surly this is point of liberation for women NOT degradation!! We are liberating pole dancing from clubs and giving it a loving home in studios, gym and box rooms across the country!! We taking something that was for the pleasure of men and saying "oohhhh that looks fun lets just take that fun bit, take the art form, the skill, the dance, and develop it!! People are letting their imagination inform their option of pole dancing lessons, how many of you have seen a class and know what REALLY happens. A reporter turned up to one of classes yesterday and he look very disappointed that we weren't in heels and underwear!!! Silly man!!! Fitness Pole Dancing lesson in a gym is NOT Naked Pole Dancing in a club.
Fay, Manchester

Maybe some feminists have realised that the gender gap is now so small as to not exist, they'll have to start arguing against other things. 1)A woman's right to choose what she does.... other topics include the destruction of the role of the father and the removal of male culture.
Ben Wood, Bourne, Lincs, UK

Why do feminists insist on inflicting their strong man hating opinions on everyone else and making all woman out to want the same things and be the same as them? It is an insult to me personally as a woman that these woman dictate to me what I can and cant do, what I should or should not want and what I do and do not think, no wonder men are so confused as to what woman what in this society that seems to be dominated by the opinions of a minority of woman. It is ridiculous of course poll dancing is not a form of prostitution anymore than any form of modern day dance or ballet for that matter.
Tania, Edinburgh

My daughter is a professional pole dancer in a club where one of the other dancers is a medical student financing her way through medical school. The money can be good, and it certainly exploits a male weakness but I fail to see how it could be likened to prostitution. Only trouble is that my son is now feels he cannot now go to a club he used to frequent with his mates! I think his mates still go though...
Andrew, Exeter

Surely it all depends on the attitude of the person doing it? If you're going to take classes purely for exercise, then go and a have a laugh! But if you're doing it to make yourself feel sexier, then maybe you need to have a look at your self esteem issues before giving it a go.
Cat, Cambridge

My girlfriend took up pole dancing a couple of years ago having struggled to find a dance class she really liked. She does it purely for fun and exercise as do all the girls in her class. There are girls that want to learn so they can earn money in lap dancing clubs but they are in a minority and it's their choice. Girls like to have fun and the fact that it's not perceived as being 100% innocent by people who have no idea just adds to the excitement. We have a pole in our living room and it's absolutely fab, great for parties, i'd recommend to everyone. Also, my girlfriend has made many many friends, her body has toned up a lot and she looks and feels sexier. If people have a problem with that then I think they're clearly ignorant and repressed.
Roger, London

Ultimately, as long as it is by consenting adults for consenting adults and without coercion then it shouldn't really matter. If that is the case then it is no one else's business. Having said that though it is the coercive aspect that is clearly the issue and one can't help but wonder if there are a number of men who try an "inspire" their wives and girlfriends to "go to a pole dancing class". At the end of the day, if a women wants to go to a pole dancing class for whatever reason, as long as that reason is her personal reason that was made without coercion, then it doesn't really matter if the husband / boyfriend / lover gets their jollies from it.
Willa Cartwright, Zürich, Switzerland

I regularly participate in pole dancing classes, because they are a lot more fun than lifting weights in the gym. The sense of achievement I get when I master a new trick is also something I've never experienced in any other kind of exercise class. II think it's the environment in which most people watch pole dancing that's seedy, not the activity itself. Watching a great pole dancer is on a par with watching a great gymnast or dancer from any other discipline. And as for those people who are equating it with prostitution, it's not that long ago that the acting profession was synonymous with prostitution. Times change.
Helen, London

In a culture where we are worried about obesity why criticise something which is inspiring people to get up and do something. I'm sure a class of sweaty girls (and boys) with bruises over the legs is no more titillating than any aerobics class. In response to Jill Arscott - are you going to tell swimmers / gymnasts / martial artists that they are not exercising as they are not wearing trainers!
Mimi, Grantham, UK

If you like it then do it (and good for you for getting out and doing some excercise!) If you don't, well it is none of your business what other people want to do? Surely it is better to go to a class for fun than do it in some smutty club??
Lindsey, Cheshire

I am a male who wishes to join in pole-dancing lessons as I can see the physical benefits of such rigorous exercise, however, my gym will not allow me to attend a class because I am male. Therein lies the problem. Discrimination against males is often swept under the carpet in favour for outrageous feminism to keep the PC brigade happy.
Alex, Middlesex, UK

I think the sexual element of pole-dancing is inescapable, but it is far less degrading than Ms Jeffries' assumption that able-minded women are being encouraged to do this by a misogynistic society rather than of their own accord.
Peter, London, UK

Oh get a life; if people wanna go pole dancing, they can go pole dancing. I wish these self-righteous feminist(and others) would get a life and stop criticising stuff they don't truly understand.
Henry, Oxfordshire

I believe this form of exercise is a great way to keep fit and build confidence. These classes are about the women and not about men or sex. The classes help women to come together and appreciate the beauty of the female form in all its shape and sizes and see how real women can be beautiful and sexy. They dispel the myths portrayed in media that Barbie blow dolls are the norm.
Joanne, Edinburgh

I wouldn't be seen dead in a pole dancing/lap dancing club! To me they seem so seedy but I wouldn't want to stop any woman from doing it or men from visiting them, that's their business. If Sheila Jefferies thinks that they are exploiting and degrading to women what does she think of all these male strippers up and down the country, does she not think that this is exploitation of men? If men did to female strippers what women do to those guys they would all be labelled pervs and locked up! Let's have a little parity here Sheila, please!
Carl, Newport

To all the feminist sisters out there! Chill out. You can still be damn sexy and a feminist. I've not tried pole dancing - I'd love to but with a bad back it would be more like floor dancing than pole dancing for me! I am a feminist who is proud to wear Burlesque wear - I get lots of complimentary looks from women as well as men. There are real discrimination issues facing women today - sisters let's focus on those and be proud to be sexy.
Rebecca, Brighton

I tried pole dancing once and I have to say it's very hard. Most of the people who have negative things to say about pole dancing clearly haven't tried it themselves. If you haven't tried, you shouldn't judge other people for doing what they want. I like pole dancing, but it isn't for me. It's not because it promotes pornography or degrading women. It's because my upper body isn't strong enough. I wish I could. By the way, in the US, pole dancing class is strictly for women. There is no men allowed. So relax people.
Lanny, San Francisco, California

It's a dance and a pole, get over it!! All because of current taboos coming from the past does not make it morally bad. Many dances, including disco, salsa and tango and of course belly dance, are often used to make you feel 'sexier'. I can see this, despite never actually watching one.
Jonathan Kelk, Dalry, Scotland

As someone who's been pole-dancing for more than a year, for fitness and FUN, I find it offensive that anyone should even suggest that it's exploitative. That suggests that I'm incapable of making a choice as to how I choose to spend my time and my money... and what's wrong with a form of exercise where you can wear 6" heels if you're completely at ease with yourself and your femininity?
Linda, Hungerford, Berks

Has nobody heard of exhibitionism and voyeurism, both of which contribute to sexual pleasure? Pole dancing is a fad and it's great that so many people are enjoying it - and each to their own. Bring back the old fashioned art of striptease, I say. I did my first strip on stage aged 60 at the Erotic Awards SHOWCASE last year and got a standing ovation. It was wonderful feeling pleasing an audience.
Dr Tuppy Owens, Strathpeffer, Ross-shire

Feeling self-confident and feeling sexy go hand in hand. The assumption is made by many here that a desire to feel sexy is focused on being sexy TO MEN. This is not necessarily the case, and it is somewhat arrogant of the men, and naive of the women, to assume so. Women desire to feel sexy for themselves. It can be exciting, empowering, and uplifting TO ONESELF to look and feel stronger, leaner and more toned. Surprisingly enough, women's main goal in life is not to please men. We like doing things for ourselves.
Louisa Wood, Vancouver, Canada

What does Steve Beale mean when he says the women going to pole dancing classes are "not actually very sexual"? Does he basically mean that they won't have sex with him? What a cheeky, and weird, thing to say.
Wendy, Edinburgh, UK

pole fitness is a workout for the body & mind!.....but can i just ask..we go to the gym to sweat..workout..but we still insist on putting on the gloss before hand..wearing our tight lycra.... most women will have a desire to feel wanted and we are a society influenced by the media..images of perfection...pole fitness quite simple gives everyday people the chance to reveal a confident stronger side to themselves...without going to extreme measures of cosmetic surgery ...yo-yo diet's and need i go on....
Lushes, Bournemouth

As a lady who attends pole dancing classes I ask those that suggest this activity is more to do with sexiness than fitness to actually attend one of these classes and see if you can try to spin round a pole whilst holding your own body weight. Looking sexy is definitely not the first thing on your mind in this particular situation, actually hanging on is by far the immediate priority. I attend these classes as they are a great way to tone your upper body and they're a chance to work with an all female group where we can support each other to attempt the routine. If anything these classes are empowering women by helping them to get fit and making them more confident in their strength and aerobic ability. Hardly a bad thing surely? And in answer to the question of what we wear, I hardly think that bare feet and rolled up jogging bottoms are particularly titillating but I suppose it depends on your point of view.
Rebecca, Bedford

Why shouldn't part of female sexuality be about pleasing men? After all, we often hear complaints about how men don't spend enough time on pleasing women. I believe that true feminism is about giving women choices - if a woman chooses to try out pole -dancing classes - for whatever reason, that is her choice. Exploitation happens when someon is pushed, tricked or forced into doing something that benefits others more than themselves.
Leanne, Bristol

Men are told how to treat women, with respect, take her for dinner, tell her she looks good etc. This is what turns women on! nothing wrong with that! Why is it that anything that what turns men on is seen as degrading women? If a woman wants to do pole dancing for hers and her fella's pleasure that is her choice. There is nothing exploitative or dirty about it.
John, London

It just looks like good fun to me, women doing pole dancing in a class with other women and no men watching them or paying them is not sexual at all! Yes it has it's sexual roots but the fact is to many women it simply looks a really cool thing to be able to learn to do, they'd never want to go and work in pole dancing club! I'm a strong intelligent woman but was in stitches reading some of the feminist remarks. Pole dancing classes are just a bit of fun at the end of the day... so call me a weak woman but its something I want to try myself (same as I thought having a go on a trampoline looked cool so tried that).
Lynsay, Bristol

I can't believe people are complaining about a type of dance. Most dances stem from some sort of desire to titillate and excite, attract someone sexually. I recently took up belly dancing - very good fun and something that has only really ever been done by women. My personal opinion as an empowered woman, is that I can do what I choose and be free from judgement for it. I should be able to live my life as I see fit. Feminism should be about being able to support a woman's choice - not condemn her because it's not for you! Some feminists can be as bad as the male chauvinist pigs that have tried to limit women's activities!
Jacqueline Thomson, Welwyn Garden City, UK

Jill - I don't wear trainers to do Pilates? Is that then not exercise? For that matter, I bend into all sorts of positions that would go down well in the bedroom, and in a mostly female class too... oh my god, am I being exploited?!!!
Amy, London

Why is pole dancing singled out as sexy?. The skimpy dress in most dance shows on Television could be considered provocative. The experts say it is so the body can clearly be viewed/judged more easily and in no way to titillate. Judging by the excellent body tone of Pole Dancers it clearly is a good way to improve muscle tone.
Colin , Oxford

I think it's another massive over-reaction from the feminist part to say that these classes are promoting a culture of pornography. Lets face it, men and woman - when it comes down to it - are biologically and socially different and perhaps accepting those differences and understanding why they have been and are being exploited should be a focus of feminism, rather then just labelling anything that woman do to attract a mate as some construct of a male dominated society. If pole dancing makes a woman feel more feminine or sexual it doesn't mean she's low on self esteem or is a victim of society, pole dancing could just be appealing to a biological urge to attract a mate or express her sexuality. Maybe that's wishful thinking.
Marty, London UK

Some women's desire to make themselves feel sexier by pole-dancing is not displaying their "lack of self confidence" (Steve, Derby). It simply means that an aspect of eroticism and sensuality has been lost from their lives, and they want it back. Good on them! Different things work for different individuals, and we should each embrace what enriches us.
Philippa, Amersham, UK

Pole dancing and belly dancing may both be seen as exploitative in terms of sex club employment and both have their roots in the titillation of men. But why is pole dancing in women-only classes derided but no one says anything about belly dancing which has been promoted as both dance and exercise on TV and of which there are classes in every single city in the UK. It sounds like the once-progressive but now forbidding nannies of feminism are latching on to something that will give them publicity. What is wrong with exercising and dancing any way one wants?
Janette, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Pole dancing should be considered for long term relationships, most couples who want and have good relationships should understand that having a healthy sex-life forms a major part of that and there's no reason why pole dancing should not be part of it. In a relationship sex is about pleasing each other and getting enjoyment out of pleasing your partner, its wrong to assume that pole dancing is just for men in dodgy clubs.
L, Sheffield

From a female perspective, I am astonished at the people who agree that a pole dancing class is somehow exploitative. If the classes were being run and a fee charged with a view to then somehow coercing women into "professional" pole dancing or stripping then there might be a problem. if it is the free choice of any person who wishes to take part then I can't see the harm. and for a feminist to decry any woman's desire to empower herself and become more in touch with her sexual side seems ludicrous to me.
MC, UK

I don't understand the argument that since pole dancing is exacting, technically difficult, and entails "upper body strength" and "self-expression", that it can't be about prostitution. Prostitution is not easy. Most prostitutes and strippers argue that they are expressing themselves -- their right to make a living as an "independent" entrepeneur in the back channel economy since the patriarchy is keeping them from getting a real job or a real wage. When women who don't have to start "expressing themselves" as sex slaves, I have to take a deep breath.
Amey, Washington D. C.

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