Stripper poles: New feminism?

Some argue that the frat-house toy allows young women, sober or not, to flaunt their liberation.

Posted: September 01, 2007

College fraternities, long known as bastions of grace and decorum, are these days featuring yet one more accoutrement of scholastic refinement - the stripper pole.

The most important campus development since the keg, the stripper pole shines like a luminous totem festooning the halls of the American academy. It's erected for a single, glorious purpose:

To get drunken chicks to do slutty stuff.

As students convene on college campuses, many will be partying on and around sturdy items such as the portable Lil' Mynx dance poles, manufactured with love in Fresno, Calif.

Easy to install - and easy to take down when parents and alumni show up - the poles are au courant.

"Not in Philly, maybe," Mynx publicist Jenn Hoffman says, doubtless inspiring relief among local deans. "But in a lot of schools like Arizona State University and New York University. A very good percentage of frat houses now have them."

Retailing for $259 to $600, poles are available in school colors, as well as in tasteful pink and hard-core stainless steel.

Post-feminists argue that the pole is empowering. If a young woman chooses to use it, they say, she is telling the world that she is in charge of her sexuality.

She is not, as some might believe, engaging in cheap exhibitionism for the benefit of the salivating frat boys feeding her cup after cup of "punch."

And there's little doubt the boys would agree:

"My, that half-naked, drunken sophomore entwining herself around our Lil' Mynx like a boa constrictor certainly seems empowered, eh, Biff?"

"Right you are, Dan. Her slithering, lurid dance reminds me that she has a 3.84 GPA and volunteers in a homeless shelter. Perhaps we can all go back to my room and read Hegel."

The Web is rife with pictures of young women dancing on poles in college dorm rooms. Not long ago, three male students at Jacksonville University in Florida were disciplined for installing a pole in an on-campus apartment and running a dance contest. The female student who won the contest also was punished.

One of the young men told the media, "Honestly, we just wanted to say we had a stripper pole. We never actually expected girls to dance on it."

Comedian Chris Rock once said the father of a daughter has but one job: Keeping the kid off the pole.

That's now moot; stripper poles are mainstream.

Rappers like 50 Cent have them in their homes. Poles are common props in music videos. And health clubs feature pole-centered, Pilates-like exercises called "Polates" or "Stripper-cize."

Hoffman, whose company reportedly does $1.5 million in annual sales, says that poles are becoming popular in suburban homes, where moms apparently enjoy feeling like spinning meat.

There was a time when feminism was about women being smart and assertive, and building inner strength.

Somewhere along the line, though, it morphed into slut culture. Girls tell themselves they're in charge. But they're still just strutting it for the boys.

Welcome to Skank 101, freshmen. Open your books to Chapter One, "Pole Vixen." Note how the women in the diagram are dangling, half-dressed and off-balance.

That's how we like them in America.

Contact staff writer Alfred Lubrano at 215-854-4969


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