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Weird Culture Alert #312
Ever get the feeling you're living in a parallel universe? Where the things that you see can't possibly be true?

I had that feeling this week. My husband is a physician, and as such, the Canadian Medical Association sent him a ton of their consumer magazines to put in his waiting room. And there, on the front cover, was prominently advertised the article "Pole Dancing: For Fun and Fitness".

I thought this was strange, so I tweeted about it. And the CMA tweeted back.

Get a load of this (my initial tweet is on the bottom. Theirs is on the top):

Where to start?

First, they didn't pick pole dancing because it was a great exercise trend. They picked it because they wanted to put something about sex on the cover because sex sells.

Second, pole dancing is something which married couples are not exactly famous for. It's what the young twenty-somethings do in their promiscuous days. Pole dancing = promiscuity in most people's minds. I mean, honestly, how many of you with kids own a pole in your bedroom? Can you imagine what those kids would think? "Cool! Mommy and Daddy want to play fire station! Can we slide down the pole, too?"

The only people who have poles are those who are pretty much immersed in the promiscuous lifestyle. And call me crazy, but I kind of assumed the promiscuous lifestyle was a little, well, unhealthy, what with all those diseases and all.

So is this really something the Canadian Medical Association should be touting?

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against having fun in the bedroom as a married couple. But that's not what this is about.

I haven't figured out how to respond yet to that tweet. If you have any good response that's under 140 characters, leave it in the comments! Or just tell me what you think!

(And if you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm right here!)

Labels: ,


At 9:25 AM , Blogger A'ine said…

I'm a bit concerned about the whole aspect of pole dancing starting to become "normal." In the Ottawa Citizen this past summer (I tried to find the article but the link isn't working anymore) about Tantra Fitness in Vancouver offering pole dance classes, called Promiscuous Girls, to young girls around age 9. There was one girl in the article, whose parents let her do the class...and they were "mystified" as to why people would judge, or have a problem, with their young daughter doing that.
Let's just call it like it is: pole dancing didn't come about as a result of women wanting "better abs." 'Nuff said! :)


At 9:30 AM , Blogger Cherie said…

I agree with you Sheila. This way of thinking can lead to a life of promiscuity. I deal with this subject a lot in my ministry especially with the younger generation. They are being fed that they need things other than what God created them with. I have found this to also be pushed in certain cultural beliefs. I was asked to be on a call for women who are praying for their marriages. The lady doing the devotion was talking about this and encouraged the listeners to step out of their box and try it. They would find that they enjoy it and it will enhance their marriage. My question to her is, why would we want to give our husbands what the world is offering??

I was astonished the first time I heard a WM leader telling her group that they should do this. "It will rejuvenate your marriage" she said.. Really?? It will?? So this is what my marriage has been missing all this time?? What the world can give him? Not prayer, or time alone with my husband, or listening to him thoughts, ect...

This is a huge red flag. I know others are going to disagree but one fact is still true. God created male and female with all the toys we need to enjoy the sex life He created for marriage!

No Poles required!



At 10:16 AM , Anonymous Michelle Stroud said…

Hi Sheila,
I enjoyed your article. These ideas have been the barriers that I have gently been breaking down right in your own community for the past two years :)

I am never offended and I love the opportunity to show you the other side.

I have a pole studio, right here in Belleville. I am not a former stripper and the women who come to my classes are not strippers either. They are moms, human resources managers, prison guards, factory workers, hair dressers, personal trainers.. they are 25, 35, 45, 55 and older. They are thin, fit, have muffin tops, out of shape, exercise regularily or not at all. They like to dance or haven't danced in a long time. Everyone is different but in these classes, they laugh a lot. They encourage each other and cheer each other on when after weeks of trying, one them releases an inhibition and lets her head hang down as she swings around the pole side ways. They make friends with each other. They talk about the kids, their husbands, their jobs but most of the time, they forget about it all and get back in touch with someone inside them they've never met or who has been away for a long time. Someone who knows its okay to shake her hips a little, it's okay to walk with head held high, it's okay to embrace that muffin top, the boobs that have grown to be too big during pre-menopause or the chest that long term breastfeeding has left them with.

Do they dance for their husbands or spouses at home? Some might, but I don't think most do. Most do not purchase poles of their own. Pole dancing is something they share with each other, once a week, their own personal get away to forget about laundry, co-workers and family challenges, just for one hour.

Remember too, that dancing to attract or entice a spouse, is a natural part of survival in the animal world. It's not much different than putting on lipstick or blush. Think about the birds and the fish :) Have you ever seen a peacock shake it's tail feathers in confidence to attract a mate? Or a fighting fish? It's a beautiful thing.

Even if regular wives are or are not swinging around poles in the bedroom... I hope that they are feeling a little more comfortable in the bodies they are blessed with and carry themselves just a little bit different.

I would welcome you Sheila, to please come to the studio, meet me, even try the pole or come and see a class.. and maybe write another article. There is another side of pole and in Belleville we play with it in a space that is healing and safe.

Michelle Stroud
Belleville, ON


At 12:15 PM , Blogger Gretchen said…

I take pole dancing classes and I'm married. I do it at the community center and we ladies who do it have a blast. We do the class in a totally enclosed room, not one of the ones with floor-to-ceiling windows, so truly it is about fitness. I also take a club dancing class because my husband doesn't like to go dancing and I love it, and it's a GREAT workout.

For the record, I have danced for my husband, and he loved it. I'm sorry that there are ladies out there who don't see the potential for their love lives in this. Why is that strip clubs and "dancers" are so popular among the unchurched (and some churched, unfortunately) male set? It's sexy, it makes men feel special and desired, and it's primal. I did it as a gift for him for his birthday and he was over the moon about it.

And by the way? My abs have never been stronger, my thighs are toned, my legs are strong, my arms are defined and strong- and my husband can't get enough of my body. My confidence is through the roof because I FEEL beautiful.


At 1:03 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

I don't want to get into a big debate here, because quite frankly I'm swamped today! So I'll just type a few things and maybe write a longer post later.

1. I'm not against people doing fun things in their marriage, or women trying to have more confidence. I think that's great.

2. I am, however, worried that "stripper" stuff is becoming mainstream, so that we give a mistaken view of sex--that it's all about being physically sexy, and it's not about the relationship. Sex is great within the context of a relationship. Too often, when we talk about female sexual empowerment, it's done outside the confines of marriage, and I think that can be hurtful. What makes sex great is not ONLY the physical (which is obviously wonderful), but also the relationship, the commitment, and the companionship. Making mainstream that which basically is all about getting strangers to stare at your body has very little to do with that commitment--even if you save your pole dancing for your husband!

3. And, to get back to the main point, I have an issue with the CMA promoting it. If fitness clubs want to promote it, that's one thing. But we're talking a medical association here, essentially glorifying something which, rightly or wrongly, is associated with promiscuity. Again, I'm not saying that women who take these classes are promiscuous. Not at all. But they are emulating something which is promiscuous. If the CMA wants to support health, they should really be talking about how married couples can exercise together, not how we can bring stripper activity more into the mainstream.

4. Again, I think it's great that women are trying to become more sexually confident and fit. I just feel very uneasy that we think we have emulate strippers to do that. The people who have the best sex aren't strippers; surveys say that they are people who have been married to the same person for several decades and are very committed to that person. Great sex isn't predicated upon us learning how to strip; it's on us learning how to give to each other. Again, I have no problem with a woman stripping for her husband in their bedroom; but I think to mainstream this whole thing and talk about it in the public sphere is harmful.

And just to clarify: my husband's a pediatrician. The CMA sent these magazines to a pediatrician's office. Just sayin'.


At 1:39 PM , Anonymous Heather Laurie said…

It is weird to have the medical association promoting this. Aside from whether this is a prudent choice for aerobic exercise or not. You are absolutely right that the CMA is banking on the sex appeal or the startle affect to get more attention. I would hope they would be more interested in medical things than PR.
For me I was disappointed when Hannah Montana pole danced on stage. Enough that we stopped watching her show or buying her products. It is not appropriate for an underage person to be pole dancing. Why? Because it screams of inappropriate sexual behavior. If you are adult it's your decision just don't put it right under my nose or on the front page of a magazine so my teen can see it.
God bless
Heather L


At 1:46 PM , Anonymous Alyce said…

I have to agree totally with Sheila. Why is it necessary to use a pole to get get stronger abs, etc.??? There are MANY fitness programs out there that are not raunchy. P90X is a great one, there are also some great Christian about a good old fashioned walk or sit-up! Anyway..I just find it pretty weird that a medical association promotes it too..and to send the info to a Pediatrician's office is just hilarious!


At 1:48 PM , Blogger Michelle said…

Great discussion.
The more one becomes aware of mainstream pole dancing classes, the less one thinks about strippers. One of my best friends has a pole at home and they do enjoy family pole dancing sessions. Picture mom trying repeatedly to get "the crouch spin" and dad looks on and says "I bet I can do that!" and before you know it, everyone is laughing, competing and exercising.

It's impossible for me to keep pole dancing out of my son's awareness nor is it in his or my best interest. He is 3. He's seen me practice or exercise. He tries to imitate me in a harmless, innocent way. It's inevitable that he will pole dance in the play ground based on his experiences with me being in the business of pole fitness.

The next generation of children will probably view pole dancing differently than the current adult generation does.. as a harmless, fun, fitness activity.

If we are increasing the confidence, strength and flexibility of women, they are respecting themselves and others, doing no harm, why not talk about it in the mainstream and why keep it out of the eyes of children?

Some women do dance on poles who may be doing it for the wrong reasons, perhaps they lack self love or respect, perhaps they are mistreated.. but that has nothing to do with pole fitness.


At 2:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Just wanted to quickly comment on your current Twitter fight and send you a link to a young blogger (I am not endorsing her just really loved this particular blog) - I guess I can't imagine why the CMA wouldn't endorse something that they thought is "healthy" and perceptually "liberating" to's so politically "correct" and perfect for them. As much as I have trouble with the idea (and reality) of this being as mainstream as it is - for me the greater concern is that there aren't other equally viable voices - like this young lady's ( that are given at least the same kind of prominent and widespread exposure. As a woman it frustrates me that there is a certain "authenticity" and authority to articles such as these. I can't expect others to believe and live and have the same values as I do, but I certainly will react to the proclamation that those values expressed on the pages of a medical magazine in a Dr's office, somehow now have greater weight because the Canadian Medical Association has declared it to be so.


At 2:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Easy test: would you want your (10? 13? 8 year old?) daughter pole dancing or stripping for health reasons? No? Then maybe it should stay in the red light district. How much more hypersexualized can/will this culture get...


At 2:11 PM , Blogger Kathleen said…

I think this paragraph: "The only people who have poles are those who are pretty much immersed in the promiscuous lifestyle. And call me crazy, but I kind of assumed the promiscuous lifestyle was a little, well, unhealthy, what with all those diseases and all" is a perfect response!


At 3:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Older people often have poles in their home, next to a chair or bed to help them with mobility. Just wanted to let your readers know that in case they go visiting shut-ins this holiday season. I wouldn't want them to be shocked to see a pole in a living room of an elderly friend! :-)

Nurse Bee


At 4:00 PM , Blogger trish adams said…

This is a matter of class and professionalism. The CMA needs to seriously think about what message they're sending. A Ped's office should certainly be off limits for that type of marketing.

Shelia, I agree with your comments. Sex sales, but the question becomes who are we selling it to?

They need to rethink their strategy and if they're looking for shock value try something different. Something that will speak to the heart of a woman not what a woman can give you in the bedroom.


At 4:06 PM , Anonymous Catherine said…

Michelle's POV, and this snip of her comment:

>>The next generation of children will probably view pole dancing differently than the current adult generation does.. as a harmless, fun, fitness activity. <<

is precisely what bothers me about it. I'm far from a prude, but I don't want pole dancing articles in my pediatrician's office, and I don't want them to think a woman dancing provocatively around on a pole is no big deal.

Little by little it's gotten so that nothing is shocking. Kids drop the "eff bomb" in every other sentence, a movie that has Happy Meal toys and a whole line by Hasbro has all sorts of foul language, innuendo and half naked women, and Nickelodeon shows have boys with several different girlfriends at a time.

I don't want my children desensitized. I want my sons to think a woman dancing provocatively is sexual. I also want them to compartmentalize sexual as something important and special between two people who love each other - not something that is ho hum and no big deal. JMHO.


At 4:10 PM , Blogger Llama Momma said…

I got a flyer for a pole dancing studio near me, and it struck me as very odd!!

With that said, I'm in a zumba class, which is kind of a mix between jazzercize and salsa dancing. it's great exercise, and it IS kind of sensual...but I love it! I do think it's okay to celebrate our sensuality as women.

Of course, the whole pole dancing thing doesn't make me think "sensual" makes me think "porn."


At 5:09 PM , Blogger Michelle said…

Yesterday's blog post was encouraging women to initiate sex.

Pole dancing classes give women reassurance that it is okay circle their hips or walk with confidence which can influence how they feel in their relationships. This added confidence is what some women need to enjoy a healthier sexual relationship with their partners in a culture with an epidemic of low sex drives in middle aged women.

Will their daughters be promiscuous if they are exposed to magazine covers (or blog posts) about pole dancing? That depends on the attitudes of their own parents.

What of little girls who's mother's pole dance? If a mother is monogamous, confident and has a healthy sexual attitude.. why would her daughter grow up to be promiscuous due to her exposure to the "pole in the living room"?


At 1:23 AM , Anonymous Catherine said…

Maybe her daughter would think pole dancing is such a normal, mainstream thing to do that she'd do a dance for her friends. That would probably lead to her earning some interesting nicknames and some assumptions being made about her.

I can't imagine we'd ever get to a point as a society where a boy could see a girl pole dancing, and it would make him yawn.

I don't walk around my house in lingerie, but I wear it for my husband. If I should ever choose to pole dance for him, my kids wouldn't know about that, either.

Pole dancing doesn't belong on a medical journal cover. A woman getting a pap smear and a breast exam is doing something healthy. That doesn't belong on the magazine cover either.


At 10:25 AM , Anonymous Kim said…

Hi there,

I have a any of you own running shoes? To those who say yes, are you a runner? I have run a 1/2 marathon and do various races but owned running shoes long before ever running. It's the same with pole dancing. It only has anything to do with sex and stripping if you CHOOSE that.

I am a runner, a yoga instructor, a wife, a mom... and a proud 'pole girl'. I have never stripped and never danced for my husband. For me it has nothing to do with sex. When spinning on the pole I have bare feet and wear the same yoga clothes that I teach my yoga classes in.

I don't own a pole but I would in a heart beat (my ceiling doesn't allow for it). I would not have the pole in my bedroom but a rec room and to answer someone's previous question... I am the mom to a 3 year old who has danced using the pole (since she was 2) and YES I would allow her to do it at 8 or 12... since it has nothing to do with sex - unless we CHOOSE it.

It's all about intention, self confidence and fun. Here's my blog post on pole dancing:


At 10:57 AM , Anonymous Dena Dyer said…

I agree with Sheila. Fitness is one thing, and sex is GOOD inside a marriage relationship--but pole dancing, whether we want to admit it or not, has sexual roots and IMHO has no place on the front of a medical magazine (or in the lives of children). Weird culture, indeed!


At 11:16 AM , Blogger Katy-Anne said…

Sheila, this just shows how out of their minds the world has become. that people are actually coming on here to DEFEND this! Sadly it's believable in this day and age.

By the way, I found it interesting, and telling, that it's a MAN that owns the pole studio that is just for women. Did anyone else see that as more than a little off?


At 11:27 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Katy-Anne, I hadn't noticed that. Interesting, indeed! And thanks for your support, Dena!


At 4:35 PM , Blogger Trish said…

When the world calls evil good,and good evil, as they have for a long time then it is very hard to debate the question. Maybe pole dancing isn't evil in and of itself but therein lies the problem. You can carry the arguement to guns, free speech, porn, lots of places. They way I see it people will defend their actions because they don't believe that what they are doing is wrong. Not sure debating the issue will change anyone's mind, I am voting with Shelia on this one, no poles in my house.


At 10:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Well I imagine I'll be one of the few men to respond to this one :). My wife showed this to me and asked what I thought. When you put pole and women in the same sentence there is only one thing men think of and it isn't fishing.
It may be a harmless activity to some women as they do not see it in the stripper "light" but that is the only context men see it in. If you or your daughters want to be respected and valued by men for who you are rather than a sexual object then leave the poles to the firefighters.


At 11:31 PM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

Thank you Tom! The male voice of reason. This is exactly the point that I think Sheila was trying to make.

All too often today women / girls neglect to recognize the power of their bodies for good or for ill. ("What's wrong with showing cleavage? If a guy thinks sexual thoughts because of it, he's just a pig.") But somewhere deep down even the "women's liberation" proponents intuitively know that the "empowerment" they speak of so proudly is inherently sexual, not intellectual.


At 2:44 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Tom--Thanks for the guy's voice! You said it very well (and I read your comment to my husband, and he totally agreed!). I'm all for exercising. I'm all for having fun with your spouse. But let's not mainstream this and inadvertently tell women that "sexual confidence" = adopting the values and actions of a promiscuous culture.

Thanks, all!


At 5:10 PM , Blogger Neal Ford said…

I am with Tom on this too and also agree with Cherie. the whole culture is pornografied, if such a word exists (if it didn't before it does now!)
Pole dancing is unquestionably associated with stripping which is nothing more than women transforming themselves into objects to satisfy the base instincts of men.
Pornography has become all pervasive in western society and the result has not been for the better. We now live in a world where guys call girls "Ho" and girls accept that almost as a term of endearment.
Back in the seventies and early eighties, if you wanted porn, you had to go to the wrong side of town and purchase it wrapped in brown paper. Even then it was a billion dollar industry. With the advent of hip-hop culture and the internet, porn went from a couple of billion to over 12 billion in 1996. According to Lifesite News it is now a 97 billion dollar a year industry...small wonder more and more people want a piece of the pie, and what better way to get there than by mainstreaming it?
I am not suggesting that women who take pole dancing are all promiscuous, however, emulating strippers is debasing oneself, and opening oneself to objectification.
As for the CMA, lets not forget that that same bunch also contributed to the mainstreaming of homosexuality and its behaviours by removing all their objections to it, despite the statistics that show the previous concerns about were warranted.
But when one subscribes to the secular humanistic worldview that dominates the culture today which looks upon us as nothing more than evolving primates contrary to what scripture teaches us about our place in creation, it's no wonder this lowering of societal standards and anything goes mentality has crept into many of the institutions we once held in esteem.


At 5:38 PM , Anonymous Susan (HomeGrownKids) said…

Go Tom!!! Out of all the prattle that we women can do, along comes Tom and sets it all straight in just a few words. Thank you for your voice of common sense, reason and wisdom... and honesty.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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