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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Swinging around the pole : sexuality, fitness, and stripper stigma in erotic dancing classes Gómez-Ramírez, Oralia


In this thesis, I examine issues relating to pole dancing classes as performed in Vancouver, Canada. Pole dancing classes are programs inspired by erotic dancing, offered largely in fitness studios that have appeared during the past five years. Based on interviews with two instructors and eight students of pole dancing, participant-observations, and archival data, I address three themes that emerged during my field research. First, I describe the erotic fitness scene in the city. Second, I consider the different reasons women give for pole dancing. Here, I address the existing tensions between erotic pole dancing and pole fitness. And third, I document women's experiences and negotiations of the stripper stigma attached to the classes. I found that despite challenging prevalent sexual mores and gendered racial scripts, and developing a strong sense of admiration for strippers, in their efforts to deal with stigma pole dancing students re-inscribe established norms about female sexualities, inaccurate assumptions about professional erotic dancers, and widely held negative perceptions about sex industry workers

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