Feminists have instigated major backlashes over the Pole Dancing Society at the University of Swansea and the York University Conservative fox hunting social in the past few weeks.

In my view, both reactions were extreme and actually more derogatory to women than if the thought-police had just left things well alone.

Let me first attack the condemnation of the Pole Dancing Society. The Students’ Union at Swansea University banned the society, but it has since been revoked over mass objection. However, the ban still sent me into a small fit of rage.

Firstly, how was it that these ‘student representatives’ found it justifiable to ban students from doing something completely voluntary and private? This is what the Swansea SU had to say: “although ‘pole fitness’ is sold as an empowering activity, we believe that women have been deceived into thinking this is a way of taking charge of their sexuality and their own decisions. Moreover, we believe that it is just a further debasement of our culture and another sign of a creeping backlash against women’s true empowerment and a show of misogyny”.

How was it that these ‘student representatives’ found it justifiable to ban students from doing something completely voluntary and private?

Well this just says it all. Let me translate this: “Although some women (and men) actually enjoy pole dancing and do it for reasons other than making people horny, we are going to ban it anyway because it is only right: men want them to do this. Don’t worry ladies, we will control your every move and ensure that men do not control you. It’s for your own good”.

To be frank, it all reminds me a little bit of the ‘for your own protection’ rhetoric out of V for Vendetta. Creepy.

Here’s another comment which made me chuckle with despair: “We believe that activities such as ‘pole fitness’ contributes to an atmosphere where women are viewed as sexual objects and where violence against them is acceptable”. Wow. How in any way does a girl doing some pole dancing say to people ‘come and have sex and be violent towards me’?

Pole dancing in no way asks people to come hither. It is an art, a very skilful form of exercise that is carried out as any exercise class would be. Even men could take part should they so wish.

Empowering women is about treating them as autonomous individuals

Roxy Walsh, President of Pole Dance Society here at UoN, said “pole dance provides a full-body workout, and unlike tedious trips to the gym, shows visible progress and is enjoyable for its own sake, making it intrinsically motivating…pole dance is a fantastic way to build an ‘I can do it attitude’”. What’s so wrong with that?

Roxy agreed with me on my interpretation. She said that “Swansea’s Students’ Union has entirely missed the point. Empowering women is about treating them as autonomous individuals, and respecting their right and ability to think and make decisions for themselves…this deformed view of feminism serves only to reinforce and embody the attitudes it purports to reject”.

This type of feminist absurdity has also been seen in York, though admittedly not to such a ridiculous extent.

There was supposedly a somewhat violent outcry from feminists (and animal rights promoters) towards the Conservative Society’s decision to hold a social where women were dressed as foxes to be hunted by the male ‘hunters’.

This reaction then caused the event to be cancelled, despite sensible talks between the Conservatives and the discerned groups which led to an agreement to amend the dress code. Conservative Society Chairman Dan Hawkridge said that threats thrown at them on Facebook by “certain members of the feminist and vegetarian society groups” led to the cancellation. These insults included, according to Hawkridge, “spraying [the Conservatives] with red paint, lemon juice, water pistols with food dye, deodorant and chloroform”.

Even if Ali Ryland, Chair of Vegetarian and Vegan Society at York, and Josie Field, the YUSU Women’s Officer, deny that these threats represented their societies, they still thought that the original idea for the event was wrong and forced it to be changed.

What these critical people appear to miss is a thing called ‘fun’ and ‘not taking oneself seriously’. If those girls did not want to dress as foxes, they would have said so. Believe it or not feminists, these girls actually have a voice of their own.

I’m getting annoyed with this constant speculation that women are somehow always being ‘forced’ to do things against their own will, and find it even more insulting that the people telling them this are those who call themselves ‘feminists’ and ‘student representatives’. I thought they represented the freedom of women. If some women, shock horror, might actually consider dressing up as a fox for a social quite fun, who are they to tell them they should not? Why does there have to be a ‘submissive’ stance on it? Leave them be.

These people appear to miss is a thing called ‘fun’ and ‘not taking oneself seriously’

I would like it if there were hotly contested debates about these things, but the fact that there has been action against the freedoms of individuals without much prior talk infuriates me. These ‘liberals’ ignored people’s free will and insulted women needlessly by saying that they are constantly, if not directly or consciously, suppressed and controlled. It is offensive and counter-productive. Their talk of repression is incessant, yet the only repression I’m seeing is coming from them.

My advice to these people is to live and let live. Promote your views in debate and argument, but do not impose your views upon others. Otherwise, you just begin to lose your point.

Emily Metcalf

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Image: Brett Sargeant via Flickr

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1 Comment

  1. Jacki C
    November 23, 2013 at 20:17 — Reply

    Spot on with the Swansea issue. As a poler, I have often found that feminists who are against pole dancing as talking over polers and not giving us the autonomy we deserve as individuals. Their attitudes are very condescending and you hit the nail on the head with this paragraph
    “Well this just says it all. Let me translate this: “Although some women (and men) actually enjoy pole dancing and do it for reasons other than making people horny, we are going to ban it anyway because it is only right: men want them to do this. Don’t worry ladies, we will control your every move and ensure that men do not control you. It’s for your own good”.”
    Thank you.

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