Discrimination in pole dancing… WHAT?!

As the title of this post suggests, I am flabbergasted. And I never use that word! Can somebody PLEASE tell me how, why, who, what and when racism and other forms of discrimination entered our inclusive industry? Before anyone says it, yes I know that it has always been there and that the people acting out of prejudice have always been prejudiced, but why do they think that it is okay to bring it into the safe haven of our community?

Since day one, I have loved the pole dancing/fitness industry for its level of acceptance toward everybody. The lack of natural prejudice reflected my own views and I loved hanging out with people who kept an open mind and saw through attempts to throw the wool over their eyes. Pole dancers generally are a unique breed of ‘take no crap’ ladies who call things as they see them and aren’t afraid to let their inner selves out.

Now let’s flash all the way back to the 1950s – oh wait – I mean last weekend, when a dancer in Pole Art Italy decided that it was okay to dress up as Whoopi Goldberg complete with “blackface” at the Pole Art Worlds in Italy. But the worst part was that nobody, including the organisers, did anything to stop it! Everybody sat back and watched the performance without questioning the rules, the LAW or considering the people of colour in the audience who may be offended by the costume.

Since, the Pole Sports and Arts World Federation (POSA) have issued an apology, stating that there will be a change in the rules:
“We will immediately add rules in which all athletes will be required to submit their costuming and make-up no later than 15 days prior to the competition. All athletes will be checked to ensure that they have conformed to all rules and regulations before entering the stage area. Athletes who do not conform to these rules will not be allowed to compete.
“We are revising our approval process so that more committee members and federations are involved to ensure this type of situation does not happen again. We will be posting all new regulations within the couple of weeks.”

However, their apology appears bittersweet, as they also said that “we do realize that there are sometimes mistakes in judgement especially with the number of countries and athletes involved. However, we do take this seriously and we will immediately take steps to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Here is my problem with their apology: it’s not a real apology. Let’s break it down… “mistakes in judgement” should have been where the first sentence ended. Saying “especially with the number of…” minimises what they have done and suggests that it was only a mistake because there was a potentially increased number of people who could have been offended in the audience. They are not saying that this is never okay, regardless of who is in the audience because it breeds ignorance. Any pole dancer in the Pole Art World championships is going to be a role model for somebody.

POSA have not addressed that anyone who sees this who admires the dancer will see this as acceptable because someone of a high level did it at an international competition, therefore it just should not have been allowed, period.

So, where did it come from? Because I am very confused.

Please can all pole dancers and other influencers generally please consider that many people are watching you and want to be like you. Be sexy, be strong, be graceful, it doesn’t matter. But please don’t be prejudiced and discriminatory. We are not that kind of industry.

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