'Empowerment' and the pole: a discursive investigation of the reinvention of pole dancing as a recreational activity

Kally Whitehead, Tim Kurz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The activity of 'pole dancing' has recently been transformed from an act performed exclusively in strip clubs to one currently marketed as a form of aerobic exercise. While much feminist academic work has investigated aspects of the sex industry, such as stripping, very little research has been conducted into this recent social phenomenon of pole dancing as a recreational activity. This study takes a feminist poststructuralist approach to the investigation of this topic through the discursive analysis of talk produced in a range of focus groups and interviews. Participants included instructors at pole dancing studios, pupils regularly attending the studios, one-off pole dancers and general university students (a total of 25 participants; 20 females and five males). Our analysis focuses on the ways in which ideological dilemmas surrounding issues such as empowerment, control and the male gaze are managed within the participants' accounts. Implications of these constructions are discussed in relation to the redefinition/reiteration of hegemonic, patriarchal notions of female sexuality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-244
Number of pages21
JournalFeminism & Psychology
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

Keywords

  • Discourse analysis
  • Empowerment
  • Female sexuality
  • Raunch culture

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