It was a few sentences at most and the tone was a bit tongue-in-cheek. And, ok, whoever wrote it called them "poll dancers", which is actually pretty funny. But the comments! The comments people posted made me shudder.
I'm not sure which bothered me more:
a. The fact that most of the people who commented clearly had absolutely no appreciation (let alone curiosity) about what goes into putting on a performance like that. It takes strength, grace, and stamina. You have to be very comfortable with your sexuality - comfortable enough to share it with strangers.
b. The fact that there was absolutely no distinction in many of these people's minds between pole dancing and stripping in a club. I have respect for both, but they have some important differences.
c. The fact that it was automatically assumed that because these women were choosing to express their sexuality in a public venue, they were whores. I'm appalled at how little respect people have for women who perform in the sexual arena. It is extremely difficult to put your sexuality on display. It takes loads of confidence. But putting down the women who are brave enough to choose to do it? THAT is really easy.
I suppose what disheartens me the most is that it shows that we still have a long way to go when it comes to shifting the pervasively negative, knee-jerk and hypocritical reactions most people have towards overt displays of female sexuality. A massive billboard in a very public place of a model laying on her side half naked, back arched and mouth open is a-ok, but a woman dancing seductively for prize money, well, that crosses the boundary into whoredom. And if you are willing to present yourself as a whore then you are automatically a less valuable woman in this society. It would be nice if someday we actually cherished and maybe even honored the women who choose to make a life out of exploring, studying and sharing their sexuality with others. It would be nice if when we saw a woman twirling and hip circling and climbing the pole, we thought to ourselves, "WOW! What an amazingly beautiful display of female sexuality. She is smoking hot. She is super brave. I really respect that woman."