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