by Alessandra Izzo aka Ally Cat
As you all know, the mystical creatures inhabiting our pole community are often reminiscent of Disney princesses, ninja warriors and Hermione Granger, all rolled up into packages of pure inspiration. In fact, it’s almost written into the fabric of destiny, that should you become a pole dancer, these qualities laying dormant in you will be awoken merely by undertaking the journey.
So many of us are inspired by one another, lifted up by one another, and morph into better versions of ourselves because of each other. For this reason, the pole bubble is mostly a warm and fuzzy place where we can all leave the cares of the world behind us.
Unfortunately, certain elements of the outside world are so deeply ingrained within many of us that we can’t help tarnish the glittery pole universe with our unconscious prejudices. Which brings me to the topic of todays discussion: internalised misogyny.
Misogyny can be defined as: the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
It is often overly simplified as “woman-hating”, but it is far more nuanced than this. Misogyny is any belief system or act that subjugates, demeans or devalues women, usually with the end goal of disempowering them.
Many of the foundations of Western society were built upon misogynistic practices, and many of the messages we receive and the way we are brought up cements these practices inside of us so that we end up policing ourselves, or judging other women for not conforming to misogynistic “rules”.
Anything that is a double standard between the sexes comes under the banner of misogyny: beauty; ageing; sexual practices; body hair maintenance; parenting attitudes; uniform policies; and much more. You can read more about internalised misogyny in this article. If you aren’t clear on what it is, I recommend you check it out.
Back to internalised misogyny and the pole world. Part of the problem many studios have in enticing new students into the fold is breaking through the barriers of internalised misogyny.
Did you know that as pole dancers, we break many misogynistic rules simply by being the outrageously hot, sexually liberated women we are, for nobody but ourselves? Treachery! Women should be looking after themselves in order to seek approval from men! Surely a woman sexy dancing for herself is a lie? She must be practicing for her next date, lol.
Obviously I jest, but this is why some men can be intimidated by us, and also why male trolls try to tear us down, call us sluts, or make cracks about us being strippers. It’s because the biggest threat to misogyny is an empowered and sexually liberated woman. And you know those female trolls? Yep, that’s right – internalised misogyny.
Guess what? Pole dancing is literally one of the best ways to empower a woman. We not only become physically, mentally and emotionally stronger, but we begin to claim our sexuality as our own, and confidently prowl around inside it without relying on compliments from others.
Yes, we become “motherfucking ninjas”, and yes, we become “unicorns”, but to take it back to the simple truth, we actually start to reclaim authority over ourselves. We take back our pieces that the misogynistic world has chipped away, from the time we were old enough to perceive differences between male and female.
Internalised misogyny is the reason why muggle women might look at us and think “wow, it’s impressive, but does she have to be so slutty?” It’s also why it’s confronting for beginner polers to walk into a room where the instructor is proudly displaying her gluteal folds. The longer we surround ourselves with empowered women, the more these “false prejudices” fall away.
Unfortunately, with the advent of “pole fitness”, and the “sanitised” versions of pole, there is a lot of side-eye going on within the pole community towards the exotic styles, and the more sexually liberated polers. It goes hand in hand with “distancing” pole from strippers and sex workers.
It was recently brought to my attention that there even exist competitions out there that refuse entry to anyone working in the sex industry. When I heard this I was flabbergasted. Fortunately in Australia we don’t have to deal with internalised misogyny at the competition level, but that kind of prejudice is the antithesis of what makes pole so magical to begin with.
If you have found yourself on a pole journey, whether you are a beginner or elite, I would implore you to educate yourself around internalised misogyny. You probably have some – most of us do. I have to check myself regularly, even though I’ve been trying to overcome it for years.
Misogyny is everything pole dancing is not. It’s a system that will play you – always moving goal posts and waving non-existent carrots. Don’t buy into the game. Just strap those pleasers on, flip your hair about, and vagina-monster your way to pole liberation.