Booty shorts are critical to pole dance.
They are also a sign of everything that’s wrong with attitudes about feminism in America, and a key sticking point in the (debatable) desire for pole to be separate from stripping.
It’s a big deal for a teeny tiny piece of fabric.
Case in point: I was talking to someone I care about a while ago about pole. No surprises there. I was explaining how creepy and fun the story line for my performance would be (this was for the Oogie Boogie song performance).
The answer: that it would be “hot” because of the booty shorts.
I found this answer pretty deeply disturbing, because what that really means is that nothing about pole dance matters except the fact that women are in booty shorts. If you think about the implication of this, it’s even more disturbing. The work that went into preparing the performance? Irrelevant. The strength to be able to do the moves in the performance? Irrelevant. Flexibility training? Irrelevant. The message I was trying to get across in my dancing? Irrelevant. My sense of humor? Irrelevant and slightly distracting. My story, ideas, opinions, and humanity? Worth far less than my fantastic ass in tiny shorts.
This is not an issue that is confined to the world of pole dance. It’s common to all sports, and many other facets of life, particularly entertainment. If I had a dollar for every time, during the summer olympics, I’ve heard someone say that they watch volleyball because of the shorts, I would be retiring somewhere warm right now.
Some men argue that the only way to make it worth it to pay to watch women doing mixed martial arts fighting would be if the women do it topless. I’ve heard the same argument applied to basketball, soccer, and many other sports.
I read a blog about Orange is the New Black. I don’t watch tv., but the blog discussed how great the show was for dealing with real issues that impact women. Then it discussed how all the men at the blogger’s work only watched the show to see an actress topless.
I could go on. And on, and on.
No wonder people can’t see pole as being anything more than a “nice girls” way to try out stripping. All they see are booty shorts and body rolls, and nothing else that makes pole so awesome. It is disheartening, particularly since this is a culturally acceptable response that spans all of sports and entertainment, and particularly since the people who feel that way don’t think they are doing anything wrong.
Look beyond the toplessness. Look beyond the booty shorts. See people as people. Recognize the achievements people have made for themselves. When you hear other people saying these things, call them out on it. Ask them why they feel that way. Make sure that if you are admiring the ass in the shorts, that you are also admiring everything else that makes people who they are.