Saturday, October 24, 2009

It was a slow day at work today, so on my break I headed over to a store called Trashy Lingerie.  Trashy Lingerie is situated across the street from Star strip, an all nude stripping club and is famous for their custom made lingerie and their very provocative window displays.  They also have very beautiful, very sexy and yes, very trashy Halloween costumes.  Around Halloween the store gets packed with young ladies searching for something that will put their best assets on full display.  It totally made me think of the movie Mean Girls.  Lindsey Lohan’s character comments on how Halloween is the one day a year where a girl can dress like a complete slut and no one can call her one.  Judging by the number of women in the store, there are quite a few ladies who are happy to take advantage of this free pass. And then I got to thinking how hard it is to be sexy in our culture.  You should be sexy, but not too sexy, because then you risk being labeled a slut by men and women alike.  We get told to “look” or “act” sexy in our culture, but there is no real room for a woman to authentically display her sexuality, to put it out there, so to speak, without risking shame, embarrassment or real harm.  (Except on Halloween, of course.)  I think that is why so many women love pole dancing class.  Not because they just want to put themselves on display, but because they can be authentically, openly sexual and they will be supported, even cheered for it by other women.  In that one or two hours of class, they give themselves permission to fully express a part of themselves that has otherwise been pushed away, cut off, demonized.  They have a safe space in which to fully express their sexual selves. And that doesn’t really exist anyplace else in our culture.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I just finished reading a little blurb in the Huffington Post about the Pole Superstar Competition that took place a few weeks ago in New York City. (
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."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First, let's get in the mood...

The room is dark, so dark that it takes a half a minute for your eyes to adjust.  When they do, the first thing you notice is the reddish glow cast from the single lamp in the corner of the room.  Next, you see three silver poles, each reaching ten feet in height from the hardwood floors to the ceiling, scattered throughout the room.  You can barely make out the silhouette of a female form sprawled gracefully in the center of the room, lying motionless.  Off to the side, five women are lounging on a bench covered in silk pillows, waiting in anticipation.  Music starts out of nowhere.  It is deafeningly loud, and then the female shape begins to move slowly.  The women on the bench erupt into cheers.  The woman on the floor begins to move her hips and butt in an impossibly slow circle, her long blonde hair cascading down her back while her eyes peer seductively at the women from underneath the rim of the baseball hat she is wearing.  Her body is thick and voluptuous.  As she arches her head back, the baseball cap tumbles off onto the floor.  She continues to dance, reaching out for the hat, putting it on and letting it fall off again.  You get the sense that there is a connection to this hat, that it means something to her.  Wrapping one hand around the pole she swings her legs out, her body lifts graciously into the air and she twirls back down to the floor again, this time on all fours.  Her movements are sensual and arousing, but there is more to her dance than that.  She is communicating to you through her body, holding a conversation about her desires and her emotions.