At least, that is the impression given by the I will if you will website run by Bury Council. This is the tagline for the website:
‘I Will If You Will’ is a movement to get us ladies of Bury moving. It’s about getting together, trying something new and having a laugh while we do it. So how about it? Join in online and get all the latest news and gossip, as well as keeping up to date with what’s going on near you and how to get involved.
Who could argue with a safe space for women to exercise without worrying about harassment from men? Obviously, they offer the standard exercise classes like swimming, aerobics, dance and basketball but I have concerns about burlesque being classed as an appropriate class for teenage girls. I will if you will defines burlesque as such:
Burlesque is a fun way to express your body through dance. I loved learning a new dance routine to a great music track!
Burlesque is not a dance class and it’s incredibly harmful to construct it as such. We already raise our children in a culture which sexualises them from birth with offensive baby-gros like “All Daddy wanted was a blowjob” and “Future Porn Star” for three year olds. Suggesting that burlesque, which is about the objectification of women’s bodies for the male gaze, is a normal form of exercise for teenagers is telling them that they are nothing more than fucktoys for men.
Pole dancing classes for children already exist so I’m not exactly surprised by burlesque for teenagers. There will always be parents who think their daughter’s worth is measured in her sexuality sending them to school at 6 in high heels and preventing them from playing sports by dressing them in clothes which they can’t walk in but pole dancing and burlesque lessons for kids are a step too far. There are lots of forms of street dance, hip hop, breakdancing which don’t require teenage girls to participate in an activity whose original purpose was the removal of women’s clothing for the titillation of men.
I’m even more concerned that these classes are being offered in venues funded by local council money, lottery and Sports England:
I would like to know if public money has been used to pay for these classes and whether or not the community funds of £750, which are available to local groups and organisations in Bury, are given to groups offering burlesque classes. The guidelines of the venue do not include statements about which activities are deemed appropriate for children. Burlesque is never an appropriate class for girls and public funding should not be used to fund these classes.