There is a stigma surrounding pole dancing because it is associated with sex work, but being a sex worker is not the only reason that some women choose to pole dance. Kandice Mason is a teacher from North Carolina and her hobby is pole dancing. She uses it as a way to exercise and also express herself, but she has separated her hobby from her professional life because of previous criticism. She made a private Facebook account so that she could freely post videos of herself pole dancing, but an anonymous tip about those videos was sent to the assistant superintendent of the middle school that Mason was about to start working for.
Mason explained that the tip led to her being suspended because:
"The superintendent, the principal, and another woman basically berated me about how my song choice was vulgar, and that if parents found out they would have an issue. She also asked me what I thought seventh- and eighth-grade boys would think and whether they would still view me as a teacher."
It is ridiculous that the situation was flipped into Mason somehow being the bad guy when she was the one who had her privacy invaded by the anonymous tipper. Her being a pole dancer does not suddenly make her unqualified for her job. Mason has a master's in Psychology, a bachelor's in English, and a certificate in Phlebotomy, but ultimately none of that mattered because she is too comfortable with her own body. It did not matter to the school that she sees pole dancing as her sanctuary where she can completely let go and be her most authentic self because it is still seen as a deplorable activity to take part in.
In the past, Mason even considered giving up pole dancing for good because of the negative effect it was having on her career. It is not fair that she should have to consider giving up a hobby that is such an important part of her life just because our society is too immature to handle anything relating to a woman's body or sexuality.
It would not have been Mason's fault if her male students sexualized her for pole dancing because she never asked for that attention in the first place. Children should be taught that it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to be comfortable in her own skin and want to show it off. Suspending Mason because of the sexual thoughts that her male students could possibly have towards her only continues to contribute to the idea that a man is justified in making unwanted sexual advances towards a woman just because she was embracing her sexuality.
Women are not only worthy of respect when they keep themselves covered. If a woman pole dances, whether it is for exercise or sex work, it is a decision that should be respected, and frankly, it is no one else's business. Mason did everything she could to keep her hobby a private aspect of her life, and it was in no way affecting her life as a teacher. If the school had never found out, she would still be the same exact teacher that she would have always been. The only difference is that now she is seen as having no dignity because she takes part in an activity that many people view as shameful. The truth is that many women see pole dancing as empowering and it gives them a renewed sense of confidence, so there is no reason for it to be looked down upon.
I also want to clarify that it is not only acceptable for women to pole dance if they are just doing it as a hobby. If a woman pole dances as part of her sex work, then she should be defended from backlash just as much as a woman that pole dances for fun. Women should be able to freely express themselves in whatever form they see fit.