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Sexism is a big problem pole dancers face, we deserve more respect

Nobody deserves such objectification

On Monday, The Edinburgh Tab published an article detailing the sexual harassment that The University of Edinburgh Pole Dancing Society experienced at this year's Activities Fair.

When the article was published, I had discussions with friends on whether what we experienced was sexual harassment (spoiler: it is) or not. No other activity would put up with these sorts of comments, and we refuse to as well.

We are a UK-ranked sports team, but why aren't we treated like one?

Our team is second in the UK for Inter-University Pole Dancing, first in the Northern Region and second in Scotland. At the Activities Fair, we were simply met with sexist and objectifying comments by men who don't take us seriously. We're proud of our sport, and should be respected for our achievements, so why aren't we?

To pole dance, you need as much skin on show as possible to create the friction that allows you to stay on the pole. Therefore, most pole dancers wear shorts and a crop top. In outfits we feel empowered in, due to the strength and ability they give us, we're simply leered at and objectified, even though we physically cannot do our sport with other clothing on.

The disgusting remarks of asking to be "spectators" diminishes our sport to an activity where we are gawped at and not taken seriously. We have serious strength, and should be respected like any other sportsperson.

The origins of the sport should not deter those who want to partake in it

The association with sex work is not something we, as pole dancers, should ever shy away from. Sex workers originated pole dancing, and we should embrace and laud the skill and technique we all use. Pole dancing has evolved to include so many forms, and they are all valid, be they gymnastic, graceful, funny or sexy. Pole dancing's origins do not allow us to be objectified as we were at the Activities Fair. The Activities Fair was no place for the remarks and ogling we received, and is a clear form of sexual harassment.

So many people do want to pole dance, so if you do as well then you absolutely should

On the other hand, our taster sessions were really well attended, having over 100 people turn up each day. Our society is full of supportive, intelligent, diverse and strong people, and it's unfortunate that there's such a divide in how we're viewed, especially at a university event.

We sell out classes every week, and celebrate our inclusivity through our socials and other events.

I'm proud of my sport, however the degradation by some students and other societies at the fair revealed to me that sexism is still ripe in Edinburgh.

I refuse to let the comments of a few sexist minorities affect me, and will strive to be more respected in the sporting world for doing what I do best.