If I say the words "pole dancing," what image comes to your mind? Scantily-clad women gyrating on a pole?
Helloooo! It's the twenty first century, people - where's your sense of gender equality? Thankfully, a small group of (very agile) men are out to change the image of pole dancing:
Spinning upside down around a tall silver rod here last weekend, an Australian fellow named Matty Shields stared down a panel of women judges, a mainly female crowd and decades of stereotypes. He hoped to become a gender pioneer: the world's first official king of pole dancing.
Mr. Shields, 26 years old, was one of seven men who were the first male competitors in the annual World Pole Dance finals. In a white vest festooned with feathers, ripped open to expose his chest, Mr. Shields wooed a skeptical crowd with moves like "the body flag," in which he gripped the pole with his hands and stretched his body out horizontally.
With its roots in strip clubs and bedrooms, pole dancing has been dismissed as a misogynistic playground in which women contort themselves for the viewing pleasure of men. But lately some women have fought to transcend titillation by rebranding it as fitness. Some have even petitioned the International Olympic Committee to make it an Olympic sport.