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From time to time we all hear stereotypes about pole dancing that aren’t true. I’ve complied a list of the judgments I hear most and my opinion of why they just aren’t true. What do you think? Have I missed any? Also check out me defending pole dancing on YouTube.

1. All pole dancers are strippers.
While the history of pole dancing is deeply intertwined with exotic dance, not everyone who takes up learning the art of pole dance is a stripper or will become one. Many do it for fun, to get a good workout and yes to feel sexy. What is so wrong or dangerous about wanting to feel sexy?

2. Pole dancers are stupid/sluts/whores….
There isn’t a stereotypical pole dancer “type.” I am an instructor and I’ve had every gender, age, race and size in my classes. I’ve danced with lawyers, actors, medical professionals, journalists… you name it. Most have normal day jobs and come to pole class to relieve everyday stress and have fun.

3. Pole dancing is all about being sexy.
Pole dancing can be sexy. Very sexy. It can be just as sexy as any other form of dance can be. Pole dancing has an association with strip clubs which makes people automatically think of sex. At its core though, it’s a form of dance. Its range is as versatile as dance itself. It can be strength-driven, it can be modern, it can be poetic, it can be vulgar and it can be explosive. Dance involves movement of one’s body which has been used as a display of one’s fertility throughout history. What is wrong with expressing this sexuality in a healthy way? Regardless, it can be sexual, but it can be many other forms of expression as well.

4. It proclaims to be empowering to women but is actually degrading.
Contrary to what many think, it is not all about learning sexy moves to bring home to one’s partner. This may be the initial motive for some but it’s more of an added bonus than what pole is actually about. The drive to please someone else is not a drive that can sustain itself for very long. Pole dancers soon learn after becoming enveloped in the classes that it’s about that moment with yourself in the studio where you are moving freely and strongly in your own body that you feel empowered. It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror with all your flaws, watching yourself nail that new move and being able to say, “damn I look hot.” The patriarchal world always tries to repress female sexuality. Pole dancing allows women to express themselves in a safe and healthy way.

5. It’s all about exposing your body to get attention.
You need your skin exposed to grip the pole. If you do not believe that, try to climb to the top of a 15-foot pole wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt. If you try to invert with clothes covering your arms and legs you will fall directly on your head and injure yourself!

6. The pole is a phallic symbol.
The pole is an aerial apparatus like silks or hoop. It is the same exact thing as the uneven bars in gymnastics except it is vertical and not horizontal. Judgments on it being a phallic symbol belong solely to those individuals casting the judgment and have no bearing on what the pole actually is about.

7. Only women can pole dance.
Many men enjoy the benefits of pole dancing, Steven Retchless and Evgeny Greshilov to name a few. They are perfectly built for mastering the pole, having significant upper body strength. There are styles of pole dance in different cultures that are in fact male-dominated such as Chinese Pole and Mallakhamb.

8. Only skinny people can pole dance.
People of various builds or body types can pole dance. Just because someone is of a larger size than another doesn’t mean they aren’t stronger. What’s more important is knowledge of your own body and how to utilize the strengths you have.

9. Pole dancers have insecurity issues.
Some people may choose to take up pole dancing to gain confidence. Situations and circumstances vary. Inevitably once students begin pole dancing they become more confident. Their bodies get stronger, they are more comfortable in their own skin and they make new friends. All these elements lead to happier lives and healthier self-esteem.

10. It is not that physically demanding.
If you believe this then you have obviously never tried it for yourself. Pole dancing is many different workouts combined. Cardiovascular, resistance training, flexibility…. Take a class, see if you can walk the next day, then get back to me.

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