11 June, 2014

Who the fuck are these people?

A while ago a famous pole dancer wrote a blog post or a facebook status that was a little controversial. Essentially they asked (paraphrasing)- who the fuck are these judges? They're meant to be judging us - the worlds best - but I don't know who they are? Can they do what I can do? Do they even understand the mechanics of this or that move? *Unfortunately I have been unable to find the original status or post, for some reason I thought the original poster was hunky Alex Shchukin but he pointed me in the direction of Pink Puma, if it was indeed her post she has since deleted it. If you know the post I am talking about please share it for provenance. EDIT: it was Oona Kivela on Dec 6 on her private facebook account but I have somehow in my brain mixed together a post Alex did on Judges, something Pink Puma posted and Oona's post in to one event. So this was inspired by all three individuals.* And I felt like - although they could have handled it better- they did bring up an important debate. Who are these people?

I want to extend this question to all of the worlds pole "leaders". I'm not talking solely about pole celebs or world champions. I'm talking about women and men who create businesses and organisations surrounding pole. The people who run the PDC (hey Sam!), UPA, IPDFA, etcetcetc, the individuals who put together pole instructor courses, who design, make, produce and distribute the poles we use, who run businesses that provide pole dancers with outfits, grip aids, shoes etc, the people who put together competitions and decide on the criteria, the pole dancers behind campaigns such as #trainsafe#polesafe#teachsafe, groups such as the PDBA (pole dancing bloggers association, holla!). And of course, the judges of these competitions.

As "lesser beings" we look up to them as groups or individuals. But why? Why do we feel they have an element of legitimacy that we don't? In reality they are simply pole dancers who decided to go for it. They used their other talents and skills to build businesses and organisations that lead the way. That's all. And the quality of what they do is variable.  Some of them do amazing work, some not so much. Many of them are famous or well-known or admired simply because of how long they have been pole dancing for. The longer you have spent doing something the better at it you probably are. That's kind of a given - for the most part. But it's not always the whole story.

This post isn't to critique each individual group, organisation, individual or company - we all know that politics play a huge role in our industry and that we're small so who would even dare to ruffle anyone's feathers right? The point is, they're just people. People who are human like us. And sometimes I wonder - why don't more of us put ourselves out there and do something great? This also relates to my last post on insecurity. When we put people on a pedestal we don't just elevate them above ourselves - we actually put ourselves down.

But more often I wonder - who the fuck are you to tell me what to do? You have no legal legitimacy. And other times I think holy shit, that's great advice, I am so glad this group/organisation exists.

Authority is simply something we perceive. It's not set in stone. It's not "truth". It's in the stories we tell, the ways in which we market and represent ourselves. Sometimes it's simply taken by someone who wants it. And I wish that our small industry would start to stand up to those who do things badly, who don't present us with the level of service we want, and expect, for fear of upsetting the status quo or being pushed out of the popular gang. I want us to start expecting more from each other. I want us to start acting like grown ups and fixing things, not throwing a tantrum when we are criticized. I want us to be both more professional but also more personable as an industry. And I want people to stop saying "c'mon now guys be nice, let's all just get on" because like fuck am I not going to tell it how it is. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed then we need to be addressing it. Not keeping our mouths shut for fear of causing controversy. And lets be straight, there is a huge difference between pointing out an issue and attacking someone personally. Some people don't seem to be able to tell the difference there on either end of the debate. I just want these people to show us who they really are and what they're really made of. Not just hold some place of authority without anything backing it up.

I want us to grow. The pole industry is still a baby, or put more aptly; a toddler. We have so many years to get this shit right, but lets start doing it now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Now.

- Bex