Pole dancing is for women. Men who dance outside of social situations are gay.
In the last month I have witnessed a few examples of this kind of thinking. There are many pole dance studios here in the United States that right up front exclude men. A man recently commented on a friend's Facebook page that pole dancing is a style of dance that is for women. He went on to say that it doesn't matter how well men can execute the moves. They will never look good on the pole. My dance teacher taught in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico recently and also found that men are not allowed in pole dance classes.
Male pole dancers face some interesting challenges. We find ourselves excluded by the same people who want to show the world that pole dancing is a sensual, athletic dance form that is not about stripping. I also find it interesting that when it becomes known that a man dances artistically, questions about his sexual preference are more often than not raised. In a search of Amazon.com I found books that examine the relationship between a man's sexuality and dance in a few keystrokes.
Prejudice. What is it that makes people uncomfortable when men dance outside of social situations? The best dancers put it all on the line when they dance. As Baryshnikov once said, "Dancers are stripped enough onstage. You don't have to know more about them than they've given you already." When a man dances he opens himself up and shows you his body, and his emotions. The feminist movement redefined the roles women can play in our society. What about men? Are we still dealing with a dominant/submissive power dynamic? Is showing the world our emotions and bodies submissive and effeminate? I think the key to understanding the prejudice aimed toward men who dance depends on the answers to these questions.
A man crosses a lot of boundaries when he steps up and grabs a dance pole. As a society we seem incapable of seeing men as emotional and sensual beings. Men are stereotyped as providers and defenders of the nest. We are football, basketball, soccer, baseball, ice hockey, testosterone, snails and puppy dog tails. If you are male and want to pole dance you have to be totally at peace with your sexuality and masculinity because you are going to see some raised eyebrows when some of your family and friends find out that you love swinging around a "stripper pole".
Men can pole dance. The way we express ourselves at the pole enhances the breadth and beauty of the dance. It also brings us in touch with a side of ourselves that we repress because we do not question the rigid roles men are expected to play in our society. As I see it the only way past the prejudice is to keep dancing.
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