ROB SMITH is left puzzled by David Mitchell’s condescending response to pole dancing Cantabs.
If you don’t like David Mitchell you’re probably not worth bothering with. You see, every generation has their own spokesperson for disillusionment. At one point it was James Dean screaming ‘You’re tearing me apart!’ at his parents in Rebel Without a Cause. At another it was Sid Vicious carving ‘Gimme a Fix’ into his chest in real life. David Mitchell is the unlikely heir to this tradition. Mark Corrigan’s quiet despair, at a world full of haircuts, iPods and strap-ons, is all too resonant for most of us. Mark Corrigan once said, however, that ‘to enter the elite I must shit on my heroes’. With this in mind, I’m afraid I’m going to have to take a 900 word long dump on David Mitchell for his condescending appraisal of pole dancing lessons at the Union.
The first key point of Mitchell’s argument, I agree with. He pointed out that the term ‘empowerment’ has been co-opted by idiots to disguise the fact that they are demeaning women. He is, of course, correct, and indeed most intelligent people see through my attempts to explain away my time as a sex trafficker as merely committing ‘serial empowerment’. I’d argue, however, that the reason the Union had to cast their sexy, sexy dance lessons as ‘empowerment’ is precisely because of prudish Guardian columnists who have nothing better to do than sneer at students from their former universities.
Pole dancing is performed by women for the gratification of men. This is indisputable, although I’ve personally always thought that pole dancing is about as erotic as watching Alan Titchmarsh kill babies with a hammer. I understand that the pole is supposed to be a phallic symbol, but if my penis was long, thin and metallic I’d probably seek medical assistance immediately. If this was the case I especially wouldn’t want scantily clad women dancing around it and giving it elaborately choreographed Chinese burns.
For a certain breed of man though there’s nothing more sensual than heading into a room full of sweaty men, paying £8 for a beer and watching women they could never fuck swing around some rudimentary scaffolding whilst jiggling their hands in their pockets until they spray their fetid seed into their unwashed undergarments. As Jack pointed out last week, however, if some Abercrombie clad undergrads want to learn how to do this away from a crowd of leering men, what exactly is the problem? Pole dancing may be a good form of exercise but it’s designed to turn men on. If women want to learn how to make the blood rush from an idiot’s undersized brain into his undersized penis why should we stop them?
Rather than wanting to know how to redirect blood to various male organs, David Mitchell suggested that the Union and the undergrads interested in the classes were performing some kind of youthful doublethink. For Mitchell, it was a classic case of students being contrarian at any cost, led on by a vanguard of swaggering amateur orators trying to prove their debating prowess by casting something sexual as enlightening. I can only assume that David is sick of winning comedy awards and this is his early entry for ‘Most Condescending Broadsheet Prick of the Year 2010’.
As a former History student, Mitchell surely knows that people’s words in public don’t always match their actual thoughts. I’m sure that the Union committee aren’t stupid, David, they realise that pole dancing is hardly empowering. I also doubt that the women attending the classes see it as a way of advancing female equality. The fact is, however, that everyone has to pretend that this is the case because they’re too bloody scared of the approbation of columnists desperate for something new to condemn. Simply because students at our university are generally successful and clever, the fact they have sexual identities seems to receive more column inches than if the Pope raped the Dalai Lama in most papers. With this in mind it is perhaps understandable why those involved are terrified of acknowledging these classes have anything to do with sex.
The implication of Mitchell’s criticism, on the other hand, is that those who attend the classes are only doing so as part of some intellectual exercise in cultural rebellion and that only idiots learn how to pole dance for any other reason. Suggesting that we’re far too clever to be indulging in this kind of activity is demeaning to those who learn how to pole dance without the advantage of a Cambridge education. Pole dancing lessons are popular and most people who learn don’t then become strippers. The reason for their popularity, I would guess, is probably simply due to the fact that those who attend them enjoy them. I know it seems a novel idea, but this is usually why people pursue something in their leisure time. David Mitchell, on the other hand, obviously finds it far easier to cope with the idea of women sliding up and down poles if they are doing so because they have been brainwashed by leering men stuffing empowerment into their thongs.
Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of Mitchell’s stick though. I don’t usually find myself disagreeing with him after all. In fact, David suggested that they should set up classes for men as well which can only lead me to believe that he himself wants to learn how to pole dance. If this is the case, I can only tell him that if he wants to give me a private session in my college room I’d be more than happy to stuff fivers into his Y-fronts for as long as he wanted.