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I attend a women-only studio. I didn’t choose this, it’s the only studio in my city. I don’t ask the owner why it’s women only, it’s her choice and I’ve expressed interest in involving men, so I’ve done what I can within my physical realm of influence. But this is my blog and the Internet is my realm of influence so I want to share my opinions on women-only studios.

When a studio only allows women, they are making a conscious decision to limit their clientele in order to provide a special service. They may see it as protective (I think that can be a false assumption). They may see it as empowering, and I’m not saying that’s impossible (though some miss the mark). But I think that regardless of their excellent motives (I don’t think any are exclusively female due to malice), they are doing a disservice to the human community.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that my personal growth was accelerated because I could focus on my inner self while worrying less (not zero) about my outer self without having men in my class. So my growth was fast and very rewarding, but then I realized that I learned a very one-sided kind of safety. It didn’t prepare me for how to incorporate my new sense of self worth when i was around men. It didn’t give me a balanced world view that valued both genders. The Sacred Feminine is necessary and wonderful, but it is not all. I should also say that my instructor has nothing at all against men, I think she falls into the Protective camp.

Maybe part of the answer isn’t segregation, but incorporation.

If a person believes that society (North American in my case) is based in a lopsided patriarchal paradigm that doesn’t value women as much as they should (and I do believe that), what can they do to foster the kind of change they wish to see in the world? Maybe part of the answer isn’t segregation, but incorporation. Maybe instead of taking women aside and showing them how important they are, we could keep men and women together and tell them both how important they are. Have you ever really considered the phrase “preaching to the choir”? There comes a point when you need to show men how to respect women, rather than just telling women how to respect themselves. I think both things are needed.

I sometimes think that by emphasizing the separation of the genders, we perpetuate the focus on the differences and not on the sameness. We may even be encouraging women to expect men to be misogynistic. In Sarah Silverman’s performance “We are miracles,” she apparently says “Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up. I think it’s a mistake, not because they can’t, but because it would’ve never occurred to them they couldn’t.”

How does this play out in a pole dance studio? For me, the ideal is to have both women-only and co-ed classes, and maybe even some male-only classes. Let each person choose their level of personal growth. I say for me because that’s strictly feeding my world view, not everyone else’s. And frankly it’s not even economically feasible most of the time – there aren’t enough potential male students in some areas to do this. A studio owner would have to accept that they might lose some female clients with this choice. Again, they have to choose the type of service they want to offer.

Some say there needs to be a place that elevates the feminine because the world is full of too many places that elevate the masculine. I say that’s like adding more pepper because your soup is too salty; you just end up with soup full of too much salt and pepper. Instead, add a potato to reduce that salt. Think differently. Find a way to balance the flavors of the world instead of just adding more of the opposite.

Tell me, would you attend co-ed classes? If not, why?

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