Well well well. That caused a bit of a fucking commotion didn’t it? In all honesty I had been meaning to blog about Jennifer Lopez’s half time performance at the Super Bowl before now, but as per usual my expert procrastination skills got in the way. Anyway I digress. JLo’s performance caused such an uproar on the internet and in the pole community in general that myself along with every other pole dancer has a pretty strong opinion on it. Strap yourself in dear readers, as I’m about to unleash my opinion on the performance for you all. An opinion that has had a week to boil, fester and grow into an entire, mammoth sized blog.
Unless you have been living under a rock or in some other wonderfully peaceful location for the past week, you’ll know that JLo delivered a half time performance at this years’ Super Bowl, which involved pole dance and the occasional, brief bit of crotch grabbing. Fair fucking play to JLo’s dancers on the night, who were busting out all manner of badass pole combos and delivering a show of strength and gravity defying brilliance to a worldwide audience. The moves Jlo performed herself (yet acquired all the attention for as opposed to her dancers) were pretty basic, with some assisted and unassisted seats, a climb to the top of the stage pole and an upright crucifix, but hey I’m not judging her for that. We all know how long pole takes to master and she gave it a good go.
My initial thoughts and feelings on the performance were ones of joy and pride for my beloved hobby and it’s wider community. Fuck yeah bitches we have made it to prime time TV! We are officially mainstream now, look at us go! I was delighted to see pole dancing getting the fucking recognition it damn well deserves. Whether you were one of the dancers executing a perfect Ayesha or Jlo herself doing a pole sit, it was fabulous. What with this and FKA Twigs delivering a stunning performance at the Grammy’s a week previously, it was brilliant to see pole making two very prominent appearances in pop culture in 2020.
Now, Jlo’s performance wasn’t without a notorious amount of outcry from to be quite honest some utterly boring cunts. The same utterly boring cunts who kept rather quiet when Adam Levine performed shirtless at the 2019 Super Bowl half time show. Double standards much? I make it a point to avoid the comments sections of social media posts from “news” outlets, as nine times out of ten all they do is fuck with my blood pressure and make me want to knock people out, and nobody has time for that. However, having seen screenshots from friends and fellow pole dancers, a lot of uptight dickheads deemed Jlo’s performance inappropriate, sexualised and disrespectful to women. Well, does anyone really, really give a fuck about these uneducated, misogynistic and downright daft opinions? It’s a bloody shame that women still cannot dance how they please without facing criticism and judgment from the Karens, Debbies and Keiths of the world, but one day I hope this changes.
Personally, I do consider myself to be quite thick skinned. I’m not quite at the extreme, buffalo hide levels of thickness that I would like to be at just yet, but the opinions of other people really don’t tend to bother me. Growing up I didn’t really fit in at school and I grew up listening to death metal which the majority of people don’t really get, so I have been pretty used to the world and her husband think the shit I’m into is odd. So if some regular, beige bastards who I’ve never even met have an opinion on one of my favourite hobbies then to be honest I’m really not going to lose any sleep over it. By all means if I can I try to educate and open people’s minds to the awesomeness that is pole dancing, but some souls just can’t be saved. Thank you, next.
What has been troubling me though since Jlo’s performance has been the many, many justified outraged responses I have seen from various strippers and sex workers towards it. StripperWriter wrote a bloody fantastic piece for Huffington Post about how Jlo’s performance was cringe worthy and embarrassing for real strippers that I strongly advise you read. It made me realise that perhaps my watching of her performance had come from a place of ignorance, and the more I thought about it the more I agreed with the point of view of strippers and sex workers. In a time when sex workers and strippers in the USA are being fucked over royally by FOSTA-SESTA (strippers do not even qualify for health insurance in America for Christ’s sake), which has now trickled down into the pole dance community on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram in the form of the great shadow banning battle (at the very least), it seemed a bit fucking hypocritical for Jlo to appropriate and cash in on the stripper aesthetic whilst doing precisely fuck all to actually help strippers, who’s careers are being made increasingly more and more difficult.
To add insult to injury, it’s not just JLo who seems to abandon strippers when they need her the most, or use their lifestyle for her own gain. Both Cardi B and Amber Rose are former strippers who have amassed millions of followers on Instagram, so why aren’t they also stepping up to the plate and challenging Instagram, or doing something at the very least to help the many sex workers who are being banned, abandoned and put into dangerous situations both physically and financially by the same website that gave them their careers? Why aren’t they joining in with their fellow sex workers and protesting against this shit? Can you imagine how fantastic it would be to see the likes of Cardi B and Amber Rose calling Instagram out on their bullshit instead of selling “Detox” teas that make people shit blood? Or how fabulous it would be for Jlo use her gargantuan power as an established A list celebrity to fight for the people that she and her fellow actors portrayed in Hustlers as opposed to turning a blind eye when it suits her? This whole fucking situation reeks of elitism and once again it’s the smaller fish in the sea (ie the accounts with less followers) who are bearing the brunt of Instagram’s barrage of bullshit . Take Playboy for example, I have nothing against Playboy and the content they post to their Instagram, but fuck me if I posted nude, lightly edited photos of my naked body on Chrome Chronicles Instagram account they would be taken down within minutes. Maybe if Chrome Chronicles had millions of followers I would be able to shake my baps freely on the internet.
There are truly wonderful people out there though who are doing their bit to try and make social media and the world a fairer place for sex workers. My buddy (and girl crush) the incredibly talented Carolina over at Blogger on Pole recently attended model, sex worker and activist Rebecca Crow’s protest outside Instagram’s London offices, where surprise surprise they refused to even meet with protesters. Also I thoroughly recommend checking out the East London Strippers Collective, who work to promote the self-organisation and empowerment of UK strippers and lap dancers and Every Body Visible ,who are a collective of individuals working to fight back against the discrimination of banned hashtags for content that did not break Instagram’s community guidelines policies, and the shadowbanning, deletion and blocking of accounts that belong not just to strippers and pole dancers, but also “self-expressed women, trans people, LGBTQIA folk, yogis, artists, photographers, the BBW community, feminists, disability activists, body-positive, sex and birth educators, fitness professionals.” This problem is way bigger than we thought folks.
I did warn you all to strap yourselves in as this was going to be a long one. TL;DR yes, a considerable part of me still does believe that Jlo’s half time performance is a good start towards pole dance receiving the respect and recognition that it deserves, and for that I am grateful. But it’s the tip of the ice berg. We still have a long way to go before equality is reached and we can pole dance on TV without being judged by the Karens Debbies and Keiths of the planet and accused of being everything that’s wrong with society. We have a long way to before sex workers, strippers, pole dancers etc stop being shadow banned on social media, having our accounts closed down and most importantly, strippers and sex workers being entitled fucking basic workers rights. I do firmly believe that if celebrities such as Jlo used their huge following and power to really help strippers and sex workers as opposed to tuning into stripper culture when it suited them, then the great fight for equality would gain a shitload more momentum.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!