A Little About Pole Bullies
If you’re in the pole community, and you’ve been on Facebook this week, you’ve probably seen an influx of Spatchcock photos. For anyone who doesn’t already know, this is a reaction to an incident in which the head of IPSF – KT Coates – posted the following status update:
Later in the same thread, KT doubled down and made a poorly veiled dig at the originator of the move, Felix Cane. The results? Felix defended herself, other people defended her and the move, and calls were made to post Spatchcock photos. Thus, the influx.
I don’t really take issue with anyone expressing a dislike for a particular move – hell, I’ve been fairly vocal about how much I dislike Fonjis – but I do take issue with bullying. KT has a rep as a bully. She had an incident a while back with complaining publicly about Emma Haslam, the plus-size poledancer who made a splash on Britain’s Got Talent (and who, incidentally, deserves every bit of praise that comes her way – she’s incredible).
Incidentally, that video has nearly 25.5 million views. MILLION. Wow.
Anyway, Facebook exploded with the spatchcock support photos, and Alex Shchukin responded to the incident by posting a blog about his own experience with KT. It’s a mess.
I have some scattered thoughts on this:
One, KT needs PR help. If you are the head of a movement that is trying to legitimize our community to the world, you need to watch your mouth. Hire professionals to help you with your public image, if you can’t keep it together on your own. This extends beyond KT’s issues – I see a lot of poor marketing and behavior in the public realm of pole, from various businesses and “professionals” around the globe. It’s wildly dumb.
Two, there’s far too much bullying going on, in public and behind the scenes. It’s not just the shit that gets blasted online – it’s the stuff that happens at studios. It’s much more subtle: lack of encouragement, exclusivity, things like that. I wrote a piece about it for Bad Kitty a while back (edit from April 2019: the BK blog is no longer available, but I have reposted that piece here). As my good friend (and editor at BK) Claire stated, it’s just mean girl shit. And, it is – all of it. I’ve seen it from world class, internationally famous pole dancers, to owners of pole dance supply shops, to local studio owners. It’s at all levels, and it’s bullshit.
Three, we all have a right to our opinions, but how we choose to share them is important. Phrasing is vital, especially in a close knit community.
Four, bullying the bully isn’t the answer.
This last point is why I wanted to write this post. While I think it’s absolutely important to stand up to bullying, and to be honest about ones experiences, I don’t think it’s a good idea to go after the bully with personal attacks. And, I have seen those popping up. Did KT behave like an ass? Yes. Should she be called out on it? Yes. Should people be personally attacking her? No. Why? Because it’s no better than her behavior towards Felix, or Emma, or Alex, or whomever. Picking on her doesn’t solve the larger issue, and while it may shut her up for now, it isn’t likely to change her behavior. This is true in every case. I have seen these issues come up before, with other polers, and there’s always a backlash that involves personal attacks.
The best thing we can do? Support those who are bullied. Call out the bullies in clear, direct, and sensible ways. And? Refuse to support those who bully. Don’t participate in their events, visit their studios, shop from their shops. Whatever it may be. Use your dollar – or your energy – elsewhere.
Update: I wrote and posted a second piece on bullying, which dives deeper into the points I made above. Please check it out: A Lot More About Pole Bullies
Posted on March 13, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.
Good Article, Danielle. This has been on my mind lately too. The Pole community is so tight that i don’t like seeing anything internally with friction. I hope it all just blows over so we can all go back to love and hugs and positive motivation.
Thanks. I feel the same way.
This article was very interesting., but I wish someone wd investigate the thousands owed to loads of girls around Australia and overseas by Sabrina Waller and the cancelled 2015 APCC! Australian Pole Camp and Convention less the 48 hrs before it started. The thousands owed that’s still not been returned.
Hi Karen! I actually did see articles about it when it went down. I want to say they were by UPA, but I could be wrong. I read the coverage, though, so I know someone wrote about it. They did research and interviews, but I don’t know if they did any follow up regarding the money. Try looking on the United Pole Artists site or contact Annemarie Davies, as she runs it (or used to).
Great article – sensitively, but honestly, worded.
The Pole community hang its head in shame this week – more bitchiness, more pettiness, more division; we don’t need it, we don’t want it. Those of us with heads firmly under the parapet trying to promote positive images of a fun way to enjoy Pole (dance and fitness) despaired!
Bullying bullies never solved anything – it descended into a bitch-fest this week! Just too revolting to read after a while!
Time to regroup; to remember that this is not life and death – it’s Pole, it’s important to us all because we are passionate about it; it’s what we do because we love it & life is too fricking short for this nonsense!
Opinions differ but it is possible to disagree like adults – without people getting hurt!
never known before that your site exists! So the bullying had some good thing, too!
Thanks for the article! As I am not only a pole dancer and director of CrazyPole Augsburg but as well an owner of an consultant agency (Rebel-Management-Training) which deals with the outer appearance of companies and individuals I thought the same.
If you are a person in a high representing position for a company you have to think about what you say and do it with some kind of political correctness and in a diplomatic way!
If you can’t do it politely you should shout your mouth!
True words! Thank you Danielle!
I thought this laid it out quite well. I want to address the last point in particular. You made a nice, clear difference between harsh personal attacks and clear critique. I think that’s important. I see a lot of people using the phrase” bullying the bully” as a way to turn the instigator into the victim and to essentially shut the conversation down. I think that continues to perpetuate the toxic behavior AND the critique that its always a “here today gone tomorrow” kind of scandal-mongering. If you try to stop the debate in its tracks because “you’re tired of hearing about it” and because you “wish everyone would just play nice and talk about fun stuff” then the cycle simply continues as we bury our heads in the sand. I actually thought that the informal viral campaign to post spatchcock photos was clever and creative. Yet I saw a post calling the spatchcock photos “a symbol of hate and oppression”. Really? Do you even know what those words mean in the context of real-world problems? Let’s pull back a little bit here y’all. In any case, I thought Felix was perfectly capable of handling herself and the outpouring of support of her says a lot about how well she is regarded by many. Let’s just hope that KT hires that PR/social media person 😉 She could definitely use the help!
Thank you! I am working on a follow up about better ways to respond to bullies. Should be up later this weekend. 😊 I agree that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.
This is a much better article to read, and I do share your sentiments on the pole-bullying that are happening around the global pole community. Thanks for sharing.
YES!! I totally agree with all these points (and with the Fonji as well)!!
Thank you for this. I think there is more subtle social aggression and nepotism that takes place as well from a variety of sources in the community. We’ve all said something we shouldn’t have at some point, but using power and position to systematically hurt people is the opposite of what this is supposed to be about.
Isn’t KT the person who made the rule about current (or even ex?) strippers being ineligible to enter her pole comps?
I would love to read your BK piece on this, but the link is broken. I know the company may not be in business anymore, do you have a copy of your blog for it?
Thanks in advance.
Hi – Unfortunately, most of my final copies of my pieces were lost when BK shut down. I’ll see if I can find a rough draft and post it in this blog, though!
Here you go: https://poleitical.com/2019/04/15/are-we-bitches/
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