Are striptease aerobics classes anti-feminist?
Though I haven’t been to a class in a while, I love striptease aerobics. The classes I’ve attended were actually pole-free and the hour was filled with learning a high-energy, sexy dance routine. They were always a great workout and always fun.
As I look for new things to try this year I’m eager to move on to more advanced classes (i.e. one with a pole). But (other than the fact that my body is still recovering from being knocked to the ground by a moving car this fall) there’s something keeping me from giving these classes a twirl.
I keep wondering: Are striptease aerobics classes anti-feminist?
If you’d asked me that question several months ago I would have quickly replied, “Of course not!” and went on and on about how empowering these classes can be for women.
I would say they encourage women to take time out for themselves and get some exercise, that they make getting fit fun and that they help stressed-out moms feel sexy again.
But some of the feminists I admire most, such as Feministing.com founder and Yes Means Yes co-editor Jessica Valenti, have argued that the sexiness offered in striptease aerobics classes is fabricated and based on the male gaze.
Even though the classes do have a giggly, slumber party-like element, I know many women attend with a man in mind. So it’s not all about the ladies. I don’t think, however, that there’s anything wrong with going to these classes to pick up a few ideas to bring home to your partner.
What I do struggle with, though, is the idea of sexiness. When we say these classes make women feel sexy how exactly are we defining that word? Does sexy simply mean men want me or does sexy mean I love my body because it’s healthy and strong and because I can have fun with it doing things like these over-the-top dances.
For me it’s actually the latter that’s going through my head during these and other dance-based aerobics classes that I love. So for now I’m sticking to my idea that I can be a good feminist and enjoy a good striptease class.
But I want to know what you think. Am I way off base here?