Yesterday Facebook and the online community really made me angry, then terribly sad. Take Back the Night (TBTN), an annual march and rally that is held in communities all over the world to bring attention to the issue of violence against women, came under attack from the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAW) because they had planned to have a Pole Fitness demonstration at the rally. LAW was then supported by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CAT) with this post.
And the Pole Community took offense. Yes, that is correct, this post says that Pole Fitness is comparable to the sex industry and that men’s violence against women is because of their actions. It’s no wonder that the internet blew up as thousands of pole-ers wrote in about the benefits of Pole Fitness and how it has empowered them. Dancers wrote about how Pole made them physically and emotionally strong. How Pole let them express themselves in a safe environment and that they pole-ed for themselves, not a guy. Pole Fitness has nothing to do with entertaining a man and everything to do with believing in yourself. (I’d share these comments but the post was removed…which is probably good because a lot of what was written back was plain ugly.)
A lot of pole-ers wrote comments to help educate the masses about how pole saved/helped them after an abusive situation. As someone who re-found herself at the pole, I tried to  educate by sharing my own story (which makes me super uncomfortable but I choosed to be part of the solution and not the problem.) I wanted to help those who don’t pole understand context of why so many of us are so passionate about this. And that is when I went from being angry that the sport I LOVE was being compared to the sex industry to becoming so sad. Because the painful stories shared weren’t read by the oppressors. I posted a link to my blog and humbly asked that any opposed to the fitness demonstration to read it to gain perspective, within a minute a women wrote back saying she didn’t had no problems with pole but didn’t want it there. Well first off, you must be the fastest reader on the planet. Oh wait, your response indicates that you didn’t read it. You just have an opinion and you’re entitled to it. Great. But EDUCATE YOURSELF. That is all I was asking. Learn.
commentBut this Meredith woman didn’t. She just attacked with her opinion. Absolutely she is entitled to it. But if she cares so damn much about survivors and had taken the two minutes to read my blog she would have known that the “r” word triggers me and now I need to go have a cry and a lorazepam.
I totally understand that someone may not feel comfortable with pole but why can’t we learn instead reacting. Meredith, and a great many other people, never learned anything yesterday in the discussion. I learned a lot:
We as a community of pole-ers were just shamed and judged. Through the events of yesterday, we as a larger community of women once again supported the idea that “she asked for it.” If you think Pole Fitness is an “action taken to normalize men’s violence against women” then you think that a woman’s actions actually create the violence. What she wears, the activity she does, that’s what causes violence against women, that is what yesterday taught us. So congratulations Take Back the Night, London Abused Women’s Centre and Coalition Against Trafficking for letting the world know that it is the survivor’s fault and not the man’s. Thank you to all the women who were against a fitness demonstration for empowering violent male offenders instead of your sisters because that is what your actions condoned.
nopoleThis morning I woke up to see that TBTN fell to the pressures of LAW and withdrew the Pole Fitness demonstration. Oppression won. I’m glad I don’t live in Canada or I would probably now go to Take Back The Night with a stage pole to protest. How can I feel supported by this group when they’ve told me that the thing that helped me recover isn’t welcome or appropriate. That makes me insanely angry.
But I’m also really sad. The decision to not have an empowering demonstration means that somewhere at that TBTN rally is a women who’s nervous about being there. Who has likely never told anyone that she has a personal reason for being there. And she scared. And now when she’s there at an event that is supposed to show support and ways to cope/heal, she isn’t learning about an option that has helped thousands of women. She may not find Pole Fitness now. Her journey to re-find herself just got longer because TBTN didn’t stand up to a bullies and uneducated people and took away a demonstration that could have saved. This makes me really sad for that girl that need to find pole.
And the bully, London Abused Women’s Centre, they didn’t reinstate their support for TBTN. So what did they accomplish? Shamed the millions of women who do Pole Fitness, took away the opportunity for survivors to learn about an empowering healing option, and gave strong credibility that a woman’s actions is responsible for the violence against her. Great work for a group that is supposed to support women.
I now call to rally the Pole Community to unite to educate and find those women that are seeking a safe place to find themselves. Our journey is long and hard, so it’s a good thing we are so strong.
PS – I believe the original image of the Pole Studio was Body & Pole and the incredible Marlo Fisken. Please forgive me/allow me to repost this image as part of this discussion. And I’m so sorry your image was used, without your consent, by the oppressors.
UPDATE: Meredith apologized for triggering my by using the “r” word. Then actually read my blog and was kind. So there is the possibility of learn and growing through these exchanges! SO stay strong and kind and let’s make the world better together.