Okay, so there’s a discussion that is currently going on in the pole world and it has been on my mind continuously since I first read about it. After seeing much of the back and forth I felt like I need to express my thoughts on this out loud. Not to ignite any additional fire but to just offer up some food for thought on the issue.
[quote]I have been told that the male pole dancers of the community are angry and offended that I am not giving a big cash prize to the men’s division this year and are saying that I discriminate against men and am being disrespectful to the male pole dancers. I have been told that I “won’t have a men’s division”. I have had several private conversations over the past few weeks, which I have explained that the men’s division is an experiment to see the interest it draws from the men in the community who have never even applied to our event in the past, never attended and in most cases never even acknowledged personal invitations I’ve sent to individuals in past years. Each year we have no more than 2 or 3 men apply to our event. The prize money is coming from the application fees. When the applications from hundreds of women compared to a couple of men, I don’t feel it is right to take the money they have put into our event to give the men an equal prize the first year they have their own division. There are many people I speak to in the pole community who are expressing that we need to support the people who support us and with so many looking for support from events and sponsors, that we cannot support those who do not support us in return. (sorry for the over-use of the word support there! LOL!)”
– Mary Ellyn Weissman [/quote]
Now I have somewhat of a unique perspective (in my opinion) because over the last few years I’ve been able to work and see behind the scenes of many of these competitions and what it takes to make them happen….and let me tell you what theses organizers do AIN’T EASY. You see so many competitions come and go for so many reasons, but in regards to stable competitions such as Midwest/North American Pole Championships, Miss Pole Dance Oklahoma, Florida Pole Fitness Championship, all of the PSO competitions and Miss Texas Pole Star (to name a few), which are still standing and still thriving you have to assume that they are obviously doing something right and therefore we should trust in what they do. Instead of tearing down by picking at rules and prizes, we should be building each other up and supporting these respectable pole competitions that are put on to give US a creative outlet to show off our talent and passion.
With so many competitions that only give winners a trophy and or a sash and send you on your merry way, I think ANY amount of prize money is great! If your main focus is the prize money then in my opinion you shouldn’t be competing. If money is your end goal and sole focus then you should probably consider getting a job or a side hustle lol.
Yet at the same time, if prize money is truly a concern for you as a competitor or as a supporter then I would encourage you to be helpful and proactive. Reach out to the event organizers and ask “what can be done or what can I do to help increase prize money and prize value”. You might be surprised that it could be as simple as spreading the word and get your pole brothers to enter – think about time spent spreading the word instead of time spent attacking the event organizers. You could event host a fund raiser to raise money that could be donated to the competition to be used as prize money. OR help identify companies that would be willing to donate prizes or money. I’m just saying that there are so many more effective options out there than criticism.
Overall, we all should be appreciative of the opportunity and growth that is being provided through the addition of a Mens Division. Personally, I don’t think that Men belong in the same divisions as women…I just don’t think they can be judged on the same scale equally and efficiently…despite how fair judges try to be I think that there’s just this grey area…but again just my opinion. But anyways…
Like all new businesses and endeavors that are in the startup phase, with the addition of new divisions to any competition there must be a period of growth and adaptation. Things will get better and more balanced as time goes on. And I’ms sure that much thought was given to the pros and cons of adding a Mens Division, prize money, rules, etc. So difference in prize money amounts this is not an oversight or a plight of unfairness. Whether or not you can see it, understand it, appreciate it or agree with it you have to respect it. Respect the fact that you are being heard. That doors are being open and opportunity being provided. “More” “Bigger” “Better” These things come in time. Has anyone stopped to consider the additional time and resources that it takes to add a mens division…what is being put out by the event organizers to make this happen?
And to all of the competitors think about the highs and lows that we ourselves go through with each competition. Now imagine that magnified over a hundred times, and this is only a fraction of what our competiton organizers are dealing with. They are faced with the highs and lows of not only themselves, but their staff, all of the applicants, the finalists that are chosen to compete, judges, vendors, special performers, engineering staff, etc…