That’s a good piece, not that I trust Colbert’s audience was viewing it from a clever, feminist perspective. I saw this clip on another feminist site–maybe Feministe?– and when I pointed out, “If it’s so empowering, why aren’t men signing up?” the best answer a stripper could muster up was that men aren’t allowed in the class. Really? Is that the impenetrable barrier holding men back from their pole-dancing dreams?
Let’s look at the reason they’re not allowed in the class in the first place; men’s presence during sexual moves might make female students uncomfortable, right? So, why would it make women uncomfortable? It’s so empowering to do this for men, after all.
If the only reason men aren’t falling over themselves to learn pole-dancing is because they are banned from the studio, why isn’t the market countering with male-only or gender-inclusive studios then? They would certainly exist if the demand were there; where there’s money to be made, business will crop up. And if the men are too impatient to wait for these mythical male-inclusive pole-dancing classes to be created, then why aren’t they buying those popular stripper workout DVDs? They may not identify with a female teacher, you say? Why isn’t some enterprising, photogenic guy filling the niche and getting himself rich?
The point is that men won’t do it because they know what it means to be a woman in this society, they know what it means to be a woman on a pole, they know what they themselves think about women, and they don’t want for themselves what they think about women. Those pole-dancing girls just don’t have the theory of mind yet to understand sexual-supremacist thinking. It’s so naive.
I can sort of see how it might be an interesting fitness challenge if the cultural context were completely removed: wear fitness clothes instead of pasties, nix the moves that involve being spread-eagle, grinding the pole, etc., and viola! You have a really challenging workout that involves loads of body control getting up and down the pole. But then there’s also emphasis on every remaining non-sleazy move being executed sexily and for male consumption. So should we nix all that too? There is no way to remove the activity from its cultural context (as proponents of stripping attempt to do) without it being a different activity altogether. I think the stripping-as-fitness element is the reasoning Amber, a sex-positive blogger, was using, but it’s a fabricated scenario removing the argument from what this pole-dancing is in reality. Oh yes, this is about gymnastics! And the activity created itself in a cultural vacuum! Right. I hear beating your wife burns calories, too. It must be infallibly good, then–no questions asked!
Since Colbert isn’t a “fat, hairy, lesbian,” and since he’s a million times funnier and tactful than I am about these things, hopefully he can get the message through to more people: stripping isn’t empowerment.
–“Probably, the spins are most empowering.”
–“I think my husband enjoys it probably more than I do…”