Edinburgh University Pole Dance Society members have sent a letter to the Swansea University Student Union board of trustees after they banned the Pole Fitness Society on campus.
The trustee board of the Swansea University Students Union rescinded their previous decision to allow the Pole Fitness Society to be an official society at the union. This decision was made on the basis that the society is "inextricably linked to the multi-million pound sex industry," and that pole dancing as a form of exercise “upholds and bolsters sexist attitudes and behaviours”.
The board of trustees went on to state, "Pole fitness and pole dancing are a direct spin off from lap dancing.
"We should not be deaf to the very real issue of pole fitness playing a part in upholding this raunch culture and objectification of women and girls and the impact of this on our female students."
Beth Morris, the President of the Swansea University Pole Fitness Committee called these comparisons “highly, highly offensive” saying: "Since the classes are purely for fitness, there is, therefore, no link between it and the sex industry".
Heidi Muir, the treasurer of the committee, questioned this decision, saying: "There are union societies that encourage binge drinking, have done naked calendars, yet a fitness class which encourages a healthy lifestyle, body confidence and self-esteem doesn't fit into these policies".
The trustee board stated that, “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.”
A member of Edinburgh University Pole Dance Society, Kate Harrison, in a letter addressed to board of trustees which she shared with The Journal, said: “There is definitely oppression at work here, but it isn’t pole fitness classes that are the perpetrators, it’s the University of Swansea, and I and the pole dancing community refuses to let it go unchallenged.”
A member of the Edinburgh society added:"The difference is Chinese pole and Mallakhamb are both traditionally male activities. Would these activities be allowed to have societies at Swansea, or would they too be lumped under the 'all pole fitness is linked to the sex industry' umbrella [they] seem intent on erecting?"
Cat Moody, committee member of Edinburgh University’s Feminist Society told The Journal, “My personal opinion is that, women and people of all genders should be able to express their sexuality in any way they choose. Attitudes such as this highlight the stigma and blame attached to sex workers, rather than tackling misogyny and patriarchy which fuel these attitudes.”
The decision was appealed by the Swansea Pole Fitness society, but the board stood by their original decision. A spokesperson for the students' union said: "Representatives from the Pole Fitness Society were contacted and the reasons behind the decision were explained in full to them."