As all of you in blogland know, I will be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding this summer. I recently got an email from the Maid of Honour telling us that the bride thinks it would be super-fun if we took a pole-dancing class to celebrate her dwindling days of singlehood. I was very surprised. Clearly, I don't know this woman as well as I thought I did. We've been friends since our first meeting in fifth grade, mumble, mumble, cough ,cough years ago and I never thought she would want to do this--and we have done some pretty crazy things in the years we've known each other.
My first reaction was: "Ew, gross, I would never do that!" After some time to think on it I have formed a much more coherent opinion. I also talked to several of my friends about this party and found them very clearly divided on the subject. It seems there is no middle ground when it comes to pole dancing. Some of my friends were really interested and said that it could be fun and asked me why I didn't want to be sexy for my husband. Others were in my camp and wondered what would be in it for them. They didn't see this as something that would make them feel sexy at all. One of my friends, a certified feminist (she has the woman's studies degree to back it up) was actually nauseous. I could hear her gagging over the phone. I noticed the people on the "con" side of the argument were a little older and married a little longer than the ones on the "pro" side. Have the older women had less exposure to the media influences that tell us how to be sexy and what is sexy now? I doubt it. We all watch TV and browse the magazines in the checkout line. Are we more self confidant and secure in our relationships and therefore more resistant to falling for these unrealistic expectations? Perhaps.
I still stand by the "Ew gross" and raise it to a "Why do I have to try so hard to be sexy for my partner?" I don't believe it when people say that wearing uncomfortable lingerie and spike heels and swinging around on a large phallic object bolted to the floor is empowering, sexy and "for me" in any way. We are not celebrating our womanhood and being powerful and independent by doing something that is so clearly for men. I don't want to be sexy for my partner. I want to be sexy with my partner. There is a big difference in my book. Quite frankly, if I ever did try to swing from a pole my dancing would look more like the Elaine Bennis version of pole dancing, not the Carmen Electra variety.
What about those that claim there are fitness benefits to be had? If I want to strengthen my core muscles I will take a pilates class, fully clothed, dignity intact. If I want to dance to celebrate my femininity and womanhood, I will do so by bellydancing--an artform that celebrates the female form in all of its curvy powerful glory with no stilettos and large phallic objects in sight. As for being sexy with my partner as opposed to being sexy for my partner? Well, that stuff is none of your business!
I will go to the party, because I love my friend and am so very happy for her and her upcoming marriage. I will not dance on the pole. I will probably knit licorice thongs for everyone. I don't want to be a total party pooper --and undies made from candy are fun for all consenting adults.
Are you wondering what hubby thought of all this? He just laughed. I didn't marry a man who needs me to subjugate and demean myself for his enjoyment. We don't believe in spectator sports behind closed doors--we are full contact participants.