I get a lot of emails trying to sell me stuff. One recent one was a coupon for a discounted rate to learn pole dancing. Don’t worry—I am not about to go on a rant about pole dancing. I understand that it can be a great workout. I get that many people, soccer moms and sex-trade workers alike, enjoy the routines. This would not have made a dent in my email-clearing-out mode, had it not been for the slogan. Now, I won’t quote it here, but essentially it was trying to sell the idea that if you learned to work the pole like a pro, you would feel empowered.
That sent my brain whirling off in a million different directions. Now, let’s forget my initial knee-jerk reaction which was something along the lines of “I fail to see how contorting myself on a pole while trying to conform to some male fantasy has anything to do with me being powerful.” There may have been more swearing. Once the initial eye-rolling wore off, I started to really think about what it was saying.
I can see how body improvement could improve body image. I can see how that improved body image would lead to confidence and how that confidence could make someone feel more powerful—or at least less insecure about one aspect of their lives. Mainstream marketing of everything from tennis shoes to teeth whiteners are all about creating a sexier, more confident you—if you’re female.
Think about it. Can you ever see someone telling guys that getting off a couch and learning to work a pole like a pro will make them feel more powerful? Why not? It’s probably a good ab workout for them, too. It’s simple—that would make most men feel ridiculous, less traditionally masculine and not empowered in any way.
When someone wants to sell to a man, they market to their intellect. They want a man to feel capable. They want a man to feel successful. Feeling successful could lead to that increased confidence and that confidence would read as power, authority, etc. No one tells a man that learning to gyrate upside down while wearing a g-string will be empowering. And thank God for that.
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with these workouts. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with wanting to feel sexier. I’m all for people feeling more confident about themselves. But just once, I’d like to see someone market to me by saying, “Feel more confident—read a book.”