Lottery Funding for Burlesque Lessons For Teenage Girls?


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:

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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.


16 thoughts on “Lottery Funding for Burlesque Lessons For Teenage Girls?”

  1. “Burlesque is a fun way to express your body through dance.” All sounds very empowerfulising until you remember that the way you are expressing your body is through the male gaze. Then its not so powerful. It’s just doing what men want.

      1. 14 year old girls do not need to “express their sexuality” especially by engaging in an activity that results in the removal of clothing for men’s titillation. This is grooming and, frankly, if you think “expressing your sexuality” requires children learning how to strip, then you’re doing sex wrong.

        1. Um, most teenage girls already think about sex. Much better for them to learn to celebrate their bodies in the safe environment of an all-women burlesque class than worrying about what boys think about their looks. Burlesque is sexual, no denying that, but you make it sound dirty rather than seeing participants in classes coming out of their shells, celebrating their own bodies and being in control of how much they do or don’t reveal.

          1. Thinking about sex and learning about healthy sexual relationships is a completely different issue to learning how to dance erotically. Burlesque is simply the middle class form of stripping. It is designed for the titillation of men, not for women’s pleasure or the celebration of our own bodies. Individual choices to do burlesque because it makes you feel good about your body doesn’t negate the fact that it is part of the sex industry which constructs women as male fuck-toys.

      2. As well as what Louise says about how inappropriate it is for 14 yr old girls to be encouraged to express their sexuality, my comment was just an observation. I don’t care how you as an adult (I presume) choose to express your sexuality. But don’t kid yourself that Burlesque hasn’t been designed by men for men. I could go on about how women’s sexuality is predominantly defined by and through men anyway but I suspect you don’t much care.

          1. I care that Burlesque exists at all. I care that it is framed to women as some powerful exercise totally unrelated to the titilation of men. I care that it’s being marketed to girls. I care that women buy into this hype. I care about the effect that this type of thing has on the rest of the female population. But if knowing all this individual adult women chose to express their sexuality (or more accurately men’s sexuality) through Burlesque then fair enough. I can understand that. I suppose I don’t particularly like it because of the effect on women as a class. But an individual woman making an individual informed choice about this? No I don’t care about your choice because you are not the root of the problem.

            There are plenty of things I don’t like and do care about, mind – such as people deliberately lying about what I said.

          2. I suppose what I am saying is that I don’t much care about the choices you make as an individual woman. Fill your boots with whatever floats your boat! But I do care about the influences on those choices, and the impact of those choices on women as a class.

    1. Oddly, I did read the blog but thanks for the snide comment. It doesn’t matter if there aren’t already 14 year olds learning to perform sexually for men. The problem is that this group is offering 14 year old girls that chance. Grooming doesn’t exist in a vacuum of one sexual predator per victim. It’s our whole culture.

      1. I apologise to scallopsrgreat if she thinks I lied. I do not lie, but I apologise if I did not reflect her views accurately. That was not my intention. But it’s offensive of her to assume that adult women are not intelligent enough to work out whether they are expressing their own sexuality or not.

  2. Two factual points. I’ve been to loads of burlesque classes. Firstly, that removing gloves and a boa is “stripping” amounts to stretching the definition of “stripping” to bursting point. Secondly, implying that burlesque dance classes are part of the “sex industry” is stretching the definition of “sex industry”, also to bursting point.

    One ideological point. If you don’t approve of adult women making the free choice to join burlesque classes, where does it end? You get celebs like David Mitchell saying pole dancing is “vile”, even though he married a woman who made a porn film. So, you decide to disapprove of pole fitness classes. You get Mitchell’s wife, writer/porn film director Victoria Coren Mitchell, saying cheer leading is just girls waggling bottoms around boys who play sport. Ignoring the facts (a) not all cheerleaders are female, (b) not all sports teams are male, (c) not all cheer leading is done in support of sports teams, being a sport in its own right with (d) difficult moves like forming pyramids and (e) who is to say that a well-executed athletic performance is inferior to a competitive sports game anyway. Never mind the fact Ms Coren Mitchell has no credibility because of her ramblings about Roman Polanski and nuance.

    You end up saying it is un-feminist for women to do anything that could be deemed sexual in public.

    So, once you’ve tried to persuade women it is wrong for them to enjoy burlesque, pole fitness or cheer leading, we come to Laurie Penny trying to shame women if they enjoy craft and cupcakes rather than sewing useful garments and making nutritious food. Where does it all end?

    If you’ll excuse me now, I’m off to find out more about pole fitness classes in my local area this summer.

    Best wishes,
    Vanilla Rose

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