We all have pole goals. Whether it’s the mastery of a specific trick, combo, or…
Strutting our stuff is what we do best so let us line it up and get real about the ways WE ALL benefit from privilege in our pole and aerial society.* How do you do a privilege strut activity? Everyone starts at the same point. For every statement that rings true to you, take one leap forward. If you do not believe the statement describes you then stay put. You can also just check off each item you agree with and tally your responses. After the 28 questions, discuss the ways YOU can turn around and even the line back up.** Remember, in this simulation we all started at the same point. Now what are you going to do about it in the real world?
Pole Dancer Privilege Strut (SINCE FEBRURY 2017, HOW MANY OF THESE STATEMENTS ARE TRUE FOR YOU):
- When stores offer “nude” products, they typically match my skin.
- I have taken part in an all-white/all-white passing competition, listicle, panel or showcase.
- I have been included in an article, advertisement, or in the media about aerial dance and the reception was overall positive.
- I have participated in an aerial event that banned others for being marginalized. (Ex. applicant fee, sex work status, high heel requirement)
- I have been to or registered for a dance retreat, private lesson, or photo shoot.
- I use music or warm up styles attributed to cultures that are not my own for financial or social capital. (Ex. yoga, hip hop, twerking, belly dance, etc.)
- I am affiliated with an aerial studio, gym, troupe, or “squad”.
- I have been named on a poster or posting as a featured or headlining act and my name was spelled correctly.
- When I purchase or am gifted movement apparel, I am typically sure it will be in my correct size or it will accommodate my body needs.
- I can if I wish modify my body for cosmetic reasons and the decision would not garner questions of self-hate but instead be seen as an otherworldly enhancement of my natural beauty.
- I can avoid spending time and money with businesses that don’t support my identities and still thrive in aerial movement.
- I can practice alone in an open environment most of the time and feel assured no one will break my concentration. (Ex. ask me to take their photo or video for them, ask me to teach them something for free, ask me to get off “their” favorite apparatus, drastically change the noise/lighting/temperature of the space).
- I can watch aerial videos or read aerial articles and see people of my identities widely represented.
- I have knowingly taught material or recycled/revisited opinions without giving proper credit to the person I originally got the information or ideas from and received no repercussions for this.
- I am fairly certain that others would describe me as someone who speaks up about oppression and social justice and I still regularly get hired. (ex. Misogyny, misogynoir, homophobia, trans rights, xenophobia, ableism, classism, prison industrial complex, or racism, immigration protection, workers’ rights, gun reform, indigenous status, cultural appropriation etc.)
- When I travel for aerial related reasons, I am fairly certain that someone in that city would house me for little or nothing and I would feel safe.
- My children can/could perform similar dance movements as me and I am/would not be deemed a bad parent for this.
- My employers and/or employees are aware of my dancing career/hobby.
- I can openly post photos or videos of myself without the necessity of an alternative identity.
- I do not think about being “ashy” or my hair looking “nappy” during training or while on stage.
- When asked what dancers describe my style, I can name individuals who are my same race and/or sexual/gender identity. (Or, others have identified me as an icon of a particular dance style).
- I feel comfortable performing acts that represent my own cultural background without fear of blowback.
- I have performed acts that represent cultural backgrounds that are not my own and my social life or dance career did not suffer long-term.
- Family members or friends have supported or attended my pole events.
- I have folks within the aerial community at-large who collaborate with me or protect me when I fuck up.
- I have never been clinically diagnosed with a mental illness or physical disability.
- People pay to see me.
- I have never been a sex worker/stripper.
Why was your number higher/lower than you expected or just what you thought it would be? Let’s talk about it.
*This activity is based off of Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” and her SEED research.
** (Get it? 28? Because it’s Black History month and there are…okay, I think you see where I’m going with this)
Jhani Miller is an award winning scholar hailing from the University of Illinois School of Information Science.Her work relates to black femme identity, emotional health and social influence. When she isn’t advocating for historically marginalized groups in libraries, she’s an aerial performer, lo-fi photographer, and geek culture researcher. You can find her at the Brooklyn Public Library where she is the Library Information Supervisor or reach out to her online on Instagram at Librarian_shimmy.