The Onion infiltrates mainstream media

Is it just me, or does this article about pole dancing classes for children read like it is something from The Onion?

Langley, has taught students age nine and up in regular classes, and has gone as young as five years old in private lessons.There’s even talk of introducing a mommy-and-me pole class.

“I just had a baby six months ago and I’m hoping she’ll start to learn pole-dancing as soon as she can,” says Tammy Morris, owner of Tantra Fitness. “Kids love the pole. If anything, it’s hard to get them off it because they’re such naturals.”

and

Notably, the only Tantra classes on which there are firm age restrictions are Exotic Dance and Lap Dance, leaving open those with names such as Bellylicious, Sexy Flexy, Pussycat Dawls and Promiscuous Girls. But for anyone underage to participate, Morris says a waiver must be signed by the youth’s parents.

and

In the case of seven-year-old Kennedy Benko, who’s been taking lessons for two years — and had Morris at her last birthday party, to teach her friends some pole tricks of their own — this isn’t a problem. Her mother is a fellow student at Tantra.

“It’s just another form of exercise, and an awesome core workout . . . You should see (Kennedy’s) little abs — they’re rockin’,” says Randi Moscovitch-Benko, a fitness instructor.

Yikes.

I, like others, am not denying that there is a huge level of athleticism needed for some of the stuff people pull off on a pole, but I really don’t know about  young girls attending classes called Promiscuous Girls, or Sexy Flexy. Even with the required parental consent. If anything, that kind of makes it worse… (and doesn’t really serve to subvert people’s opinions that pole dancing/fitness is only sexual, as Tammy Morris claims she is trying to do).

9 Comments

  1. Katherine says:

    Why can’t people see when they aren’t subverting anything at all?

    • steph says:

      I guess the woman in this story assumes that by saying ‘it’s just fitness, obviously no stripping! So clearly it isn’t sexual’ counts as showing people it isn’t a bad thing or a sexual thing. But really that gives no consideration to the history and context of the act, or how a class called Sexy Flexy doesn’t really suggest that it isn’t at all sexual. Sexy is in the name! If kids love it so much, why not have a kids’ class with a really, really, really non-suggestive name? (Not advocating for or against, just making a point about the name not really supporting her point about the non-sexual nature).

      • Katherine says:

        Yeah, I mean I don’t have a problem with the classes or anything, mostly just the names like you pointed out. Hey, does she allow/encourage boys to take these obviously non-sexual fitness classes?

  2. Boganette says:

    Fucking seriously woman – do not talk about your seven-year-old having abs.

    I’m really not buying the “it’s just fitness!” bullshit. And I’m sorry but I can’t be bothered with an “it’s so empowering” speech either because I just don’t buy it.

    Pole dancing is sexual. That’s it. There’s no “fine line” or grey area. It’s sexual. It’s wrapping yourself around a pole to turn on men – strip clubs are not full of women. They’re there for men. These women are teaching their daughters to sexualise themselves in an adult way for the benefit of others because that’s what they are into. And that’s fucked. This shit just fucks me right off. And then if you dare say that there’s something wrong with teaching a child to dance on a pole you get slammed for not being “sex-positive” or some shit.

    1) I betcha $50 this woman isn’t a feminist and doesn’t identify as a “sex-positive” one at that. So there’s no need for self-identified feminists to back this shit.
    2) I bet you she’s not Hindu and she thinks “tantra” just means exotic fucking.

    Arghhhh this shit makes me so angry. Sorry if I sound psychotic but I had this debate weeks ago about pole dancing and how it’s so empowering and shit and I am still sore from it.

    • Boganette says:

      And to clarify – I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with sticking a pole in your bedroom and performing. By all means knock yourself out. But don’t get your kids involved and don’t be disingenuous by claiming pole dancing is about fitness and empowerment. It’s about turning yourself/others on – and that’s sweet as. But be honest about what it is. Don’t try to push that shit onto kids and force fucked up body issues onto fucking seven-year-olds.

      Ok yeah I’ll shut up now. Sorry if I’ve hijacked.

      • steph says:

        Nup, you haven’t, it’s all good. I totally get where you’re coming from!

        The abs comment freaked me out, because I just don’t think you should comment on your child’s body like that (even though it is a compliment) because it makes a point that how they look is important and praiseworthy. And there are enough fucked up body image messages out there as it is.

        One of the comments (maybe on the oringinal article, or on Shakesville, I forget where) is that if kids love doing pole tricks and having fun and doing something athletic like a pole class, why not have a jungle gym fitness class? (Or just actually let them play on one during lunchtime, but for the sake of this let’s pretend we need to have some sort of formal exercise class). You know, let kids do an actual child-appropriate activity where they can swing and climb and do all the stuff they apparently love doing on poles in pole dancing classes. Or is the point of them coming along to Sexy Flexy and Promiscuous Girls that they can do it while their mother is doing it too? Because the Mommy and Me thing is just a bit weird to me.

        All in all, I have no problems with kids wanting to have fun and do something athletic and have exercise that is enjoyable to them. But this just skeeves me out.

        • Boganette says:

          I’m not a personal trainer but is it even right for kids to have “abs”? And should a mother be commenting like that’s something her daughter SHOULD have? I mean is it too far a stretch to wonder if these mothers actually want their daughters to have “abs”?

          And I’m so with you on the jungle gym thing. I’m just not buying that a kid is saying “Hey mum I wanna hang upside down on a pole by my legs”. The mothers obviously want their daughters to do this because THEY do it. And somehow I think there’s something there in wanting to validate their own opinions on pole-dancing. Which frankly they should just own. If they feel sexy pole-dancing then fantastic. But own that. Don’t call it something else and get your kid involved. A seven-year-old doesn’t need to feel sexy anymore than she needs to be told she has “abs”.

          • Boganette says:

            And another side-issue on this pole-dancing thing is it puts pressure on young women to ALWAYS be sexual. It’s not enough to go to the gym and sweat it out on a treadmill – you have to get fit while being sexy. And if you express any kind of caution about pole-dancing and/or this idea that even exercise has to be sexy (if you’re buying that it’s exercise) then you’re a prude or you’re “no fun”. Or worse you’re not “empowered”. Because after all it’s all about having fun and getting fit right? There’s nothing at all sexual about it and certainly no aspect of “turn your partner on while you maintain a figure society approves of” right?

          • steph says:

            I agree that it is probably a ‘I want to be like Mum’ thing, and if that is the case, well, not everything that adults do is ok for children to do to. Even if you say ‘well nobody is stripping!’, because that isn’t the point, and it it was never the problematic part.