Swansea University has banned its pole fitness club – because it’s too reminiscent of the sex industry, they say.
However, the student union’s unanimous decision that the society should cease to exist – because it’s “inextricably linked to the multimillion pound sex industry” - has been criticised by the international pole dancing community, and the issue is now spinning out of control.
In a letter to the society, the board expressed concern that it could not separate "pole fitness" from "pole dancing" and worried that the concept of pole fitness was "linked to the rise of so-called 'Raunch Culture'".
Student pole fitness fans are up in arms. Bethan Morris, the erstwhile president of the society, argues that “pole fitness is in no way associated with the sex industry”.
“Males and females come to class to keep fit and gain strength, flexibility and coordination,” she insisted to The Independent.
“I see it as a fitness class like any other form of dance or gymnastics class,” said Heidi Muir, treasurer of the society.
The cause has now been taken up by the Pole Dancing Community (PDC). The founder of the community, Sam Remmer, points out that the society’s details “clearly promote pole fitness and not lap dancing”.
“We would like to question why you think the society does not promote gender equality when the group takes on both male and female members,” Remmer asked Swansea in an open letter.
The PDC gave Swansea's SU three options: justify their position, reverse their decision, or resign en masse. They argued that the union’s judgement was “against equal opportunities and merely discriminating against a society on the basis of ignorance and misplaced stereotypes” and have hinted at legal action.
The union declined to comment on the PDC’s response, claiming it never received the letter. It merely reiterated that they didn’t feel the society met their "aims and objectives as an organisation" and that the decision had been made clear to the society. They invited the society to raise the issue at the monthly student forum.
What next? Ms Morris confirmed that a campaign has been set up to try and get the decision changed: “we are currently working on publicising the issue as much as we can with the aim of arranging a meeting with the board”.
It remains to be seen if the union will be flexible enough to change their mind.