Social stigma: the extreme disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of society.
The recent “pole coming out” movement has made me think about the social stigma that goes hand-in-glove with pole dancing. Does it seem like we as humans are awfully quick to generalize and think ill of others? We see someone walking down the street and instantly judge them–often negatively–for what they’re wearing, what they look like, who they’re walking with. Do I do it? Yes. I do. I think anyone who says he/she never, ever, ever, EVER judges is lying. We all do it to some degree.
I’ve been very fortunate–my loved ones have been super supportive of my love for pole dancing. But there are some people very close to me who still don’t know, even though I’ve been poling since 2008. I just don’t know that they’d understand. It’s the pole dancer stigma. Here’s the funny thing, all the things they associate with pole dancing, I am 100% comfortable with–the sexually charged movements (I love me some good floor humpin’), stilettos, and stripping . . . just a couple of examples.
Why do some have so many issues concerning what other people do with their bodies? If my pole dancing doesn’t cause anyone else physical or emotional harm, then what makes it “harmful”? It hasn’t trashed my self-esteem to wear tiny shorts and high heels and grind my hips on the floor. In fact, I carry myself much more confidently today than I did before that first pole class.
I haven’t become a lesser member of society simply because of my pole dancing . . . have I?? Some might argue that I have. But when pressed for a reason, they hem and haw and go to the old stand-bys of generally looser morals, blah blah blah.
I maintain that unless my activity is illegal or proven to be harmful to others in some way, only I have the ultimate right to say what I can or cannot do with my body. The sole exception may be my husband, who has the right (and some would say the obligation) to speak up if he has concerns about me — that said, even he doesn’t have the right to force me into doing, or not doing.
In the end, I still choose not to tell everyone about my poling. It’s a choice I make out of love and respect for those who likely wouldn’t understand, and if I am selling them short then I’m in the wrong but may never know it. Is ignorance truly blissful?