Motivation and emotion/Book/2015/Pole dancing motivation
What motivates people to do pole dancing?
Overview[edit | edit source]
Pole dancing is a performance-based art involving a vertical pole that can either be rotating or static (IPDFA, 2015). Primarily, pole dancing is generally seen as an erotic performance that occurs in strip clubs and other appropriate venues. Over the years it has been associated with sex work and eroticism, and so can be quite a taboo in certain cultures (Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010). However, recently it has become overwhelmingly popular as a type of sport and fitness activity, where more and more people recognise the strength, endurance, and coordination required in pole dancing, leading to the rise of pole dancing studios across the world. Additionally, many pole-dancing competitions have emerged to cater for the more competitive pole dancers (IPDFA, 2015; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009).
There are many different types of motivations and reasons that push individuals to partake in pole dancing. Some may do it for the money, where others do it for personal gains such as fitness and well-being, though these can overlap from time to time. Additionally, others may look for a sense of belonging, or they may just want something to brag about to gain the attention of others, or motivated to compete.
History[edit | edit source]
Pole dancing emerged from two types of male dominated sports that involved the use of poles (Bahri, 2012; IPDFA, 2015).
Chinese pole[edit | edit source]
This sport emerged before the 12th century and would be performed by circus performers. Multiple poles would be used, ranging from 3 to 9 meters with the pole laced with a rubber material to improve grip, and the men would perform acrobatics on the pole. Though it follows the same constructs as modern day pole dancing, it did not have the same fluidity that is now quite significant in a pole dancing performance. In Chinese pole, core strength and grip strength are incredibly important, as with today’s modernised pole dancing, however, the men wore full body costumes whereas now, pole dancers try to wear as little as possible. Chinese pole performers may have worn the full body costumes to try to protect them from getting too many friction burns from the rubber laced poles, amongst other cultural and performing reasons, whereas today’s pole dancing performers wear as little as possible to be able to grip onto the pole better as skin to pole contact is important in helping them get the grip that they need to be able to do certain moves (Bahri, 2012; IPDFA, 2015).
Pole Mallakhamb[edit | edit source]
This type of pole sport originated in India around 1200 AD. Predominantly, it was a means for wrestlers to train and so this was also a male-dominated sport. Here, the wrestlers would play against each other competitively with a fixed, smooth wooden pole that is usually thicker at the bottom. The pole is usually laced with castor oil to avoid unnecessary friction, and the wrestlers would perform acrobatics and incredibly hard pole flips. The wrestlers would wear as little clothing as possible, just like today’s pole dancers, and gained inspiration from yoga clothing, as well as swimming outfits, to give them the needed skin to pole grip. The training assisted in increasing the wrestlers’ overall strength, endurance, agility, flexibility, speed, concentration, and coordination. Eventually, Mallakhamb became a competitive sport in India (Bahri, 2012; IPDFA, 2015).
The rise of pole dancing[edit | edit source]
The fundamentals of pole dancing emerged from both Chinese pole and pole Mallakhamb, both male-dominated sports. Itbegan its development in the 1920s when circus acts would use it as an innovative trick by utilising the tent pole to dance around. Additionally, it was also believed that during this time, a group of travelling dancers would perform for crowds in a tent, with their more erotic dance moves while also using the pole provided by the tent. Later, in the 1950s, burlesque was incorporated into the foundations of pole dancing. Eventually, pole dancing began to develop a more concrete definition, and at that time, it adopted the more erotic and sexual side of performing arts (Bahri, 2012; Donaghue, Kurz, & Whitehead, 2011; IPDFA, 2015).
The first ever documented pole dancing performance was in 1968, in a strip club in Oregon, USA, which set up the rise of pole dancing across the nation. Pole dancing became increasingly popular and became the norm in the majority of strip clubs. Eventually, there was an obvious need for some type of training and there was a realisation that pole dancing entailed more than just suggestively dancing around the pole. A pole dancing class aimed to teach non-performers, and those who were just interested in the art and fitness, was first initiated in 1994 by Fawnia Dietrich, one of the most renowned pole dancers and one of the founders’ of pole dancing fitness (Donaghue, Kurz, & Whitehead, 2011; IPDFA, 2015).
Fawnia Dietrich[edit | edit source]
Shewas interested in how strippers and initial pole dancers learned how to pole dance, and found that they had to teach themselves as there was no pole dancing school available anywhere. So, Fawnia established a pole dancing school to cater for anyone who was interested in pole dancing. She did not, however, have a background in dancing and so she self-taught herself by watching her idols, such as Madonna (Dietrich, n.d.).
She opened the first pole dancing class in 1994, at the age of 19, after purchasing a brass pole from a metal work store. The classes gradually became popular and four years later, as experience grew, Fawnia released the first ever instructional DVD on pole dancing. Eventually, pole dancing became increasingly popular as a fitness and sport, and is now a female-dominated sport. Many associations and competitions began to form in order to support and facilitate the ever-growing recognition of pole dancing as a sport (Dietrich, n.d.; IPDFA, 2015).
Fawnia also wrote the course for the Pole Dancing Instructors Certificate, which is a worldwide certification in pole dancing instruction, to increase the number of instructors, and therefore students, available in the pole dancing industry. Through her experience and ongoing involvement in the development of pole dancing as a sport, Fawnia also became a well-respected judge in many pole-dancing competitions. On top of Fawnia’s innovative work in helping the pole dancing industry bloom into what it is today, she held classes and lectures at the University of Las Vegas on exotic dance and pole dancing (Dietrich, n.d.; Donaghue, Kurz, & Whitehead, 2011; IPDFA, 2015).
Pole dancing today[edit | edit source]
Through her work and ongoing effort and involvement in the rise of pole dancing as a fitness, Fawnia Dietrich influenced many others to follow in her footsteps to offer more opportunities to the growing pole dancing community to be involved in this unique sport (Donaghue, Kurz, & Whitehead, 2011; IPDFA, 2015).
There are now many pole dancing organisations and associations to allow individuals to learn more about pole dancing and be a part of a community. The International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA) is one of the most well known associations that try to promote pole dancing as a fitness and to educate many about the many components of pole dancing. This association also tries to raise awareness that pole dancing is not just an erotic activity that can only be found in strip clubs and try to remove the taboo that many cultures have associated it to be. Furthermore, IPDFA was greatly influenced by Fawnia’s work and aim to give more opportunities to aspiring instructors, pole dancing students, and curious minds (IPDFA, 2015). Pole dancing associations and organisations also play a significant part in the pole dancing industry as they also offer pole dancing codes of conducts to further educate about the guideline of expected standards that pole dancers and instructors must follow and demonstrate. These ‘rules’ help create boundaries, safe environments, and to look after the well-being of all individuals involved to ensure the best quality experience while participating in pole dancing activities (Donaghue, Kurz, & Whitehead, 2011).
Competitions have also become increasingly popular in many countries, providing more opportunities to those who aspire to challenge themselves further. They are also a great way for many to meet and learn many different people who are involved in pole dancing, whether they are a judge, a fellow competitor, or a spectator, it gives individuals a chance to learn more about what pole dancing means to others and their experiences with pole dancing (Dietrich, n.d.; IPDFA, 2015). One of the most renowned, prestigious, and global competitions is World Pole Dance, where 26 countries are brought together to showcase the best pole dancers from their region. This competition offers different categories such as female, male, and doubles (World Pole Dance, 2015). In doubles, the competitors are allowed to utilise a combination of two poles, so they may choose to have one rotating and one static pole, or both rotating/static poles, this of course depends on the style of their pole dancing and what they want others to visualise (IPDFA, 2015; World Pole Dance, 2015).
There is also a yearly pole dancing expo organised by Fawnia Dietrich which is held in Las Vegas. This is one of the biggest go-to events for pole dancing, where workshops, seminars, showcases, competitions and many more activities are available across a couple of days, giving individuals the opportunity to partake in and learn more about pole dancing. People from over 41 countries have attended this event and tens of thousands of people go to this grand expo (Pole Expo, 2015).
Many pole dancing classes and studios have risen across the world, as demands to partake in this sport have become increasingly popular (Donaghue, Kurz, & Whitehead, 2011; IPDFA, 2015). It is clear that many have realised that pole dancing requires more than just the ability to be sexy around the pole while somewhat dancing and balancing on incredibly high heels, and that it requires an impressive amount of strength, endurance, and flexibility to make a performance look seamless and effortless (Dietrich, 2015; IPDFA, 2015; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009). Furthermore, it is a great balance between a strength and cardio workout, working on all areas of the body, as well as providing a good and interesting challenge to individuals (Dietrich, 2015; IPDFA, 2015). Classes are usually separated into different levels of ability ranging from beginners to advanced, where beginners learn the core fundamentals of pole dancing and advanced students challenge themselves mentally and physically with moves that take years to perfect. Interestingly, some studios are exclusive to females where others provide separate classes for men. There are also some studios that have a more integrated approach, offering classes for both men and women to attend (iSpin, n.d.).
The darker side of pole[edit | edit source]
Of course, Fawnia Dietrich’s work cannot come without a significant downfall. Throughout the years of her involvement in the growing popularity of pole dancing as a sport, she had kept the sexualisation of pole dancing in her promotion of this fitness activity and, though this should not be a major problem and everyone has the right to express themselves in any way they like, has helped fuel the stereotypical beliefs that pole dancing is strictly a sexual performance only available in strip clubs and places alike (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010). It has become a taboo in many cultures, especially those encompassing a strict religion. Therefore, although pole dancing is beginning to be seen as a fitness and sport, there is still a great struggle to eradicate the negative connotations that have been attached to pole dancing throughout the years (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010).
This is not to say that pole dancing as an erotic activity no longer exists, because it still does, and it is still prominent in many clubs. There is still a popularity in pole dancing in the erotic sense as well, and many individuals choose to be a part of this with reasons ranging from monetary to personal gain such as confidence building. Though there is nothing necessarily bad with being involved in this form of pole dancing, it seems to be the one that is easily associated to pole dancing as a whole, reinforcing the stereotypes that some people have on the ideals of pole dancing (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010).
Individuals choose to be involved in pole dancing one way or another for a variety of reasons. It is important to look at what motivates them to be a part of the pole dancing community and the reasons and values they have behind these decisions.
What is motivation?[edit | edit source]
Why do people do the things they do? Why study something so intensely, go for a run, eat fifty hot dogs in under fifteen minutes? We all have our reasons for doing something, motivations that push us to achieve a goal, to persist in a difficult task, drive us to be somewhere at a certain time. Of course, every individual has differing motives, needs, and wants, and so it is important to have motivation theories to help explain these in better detail. Motivation helps us to understand why and what drives us to do a certain thing, and to compare the differing motives and reasons behind each choice (Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b). Perhaps Monica here wants to do well in her exams because she wants to get into honours later on, whereas Joey may want the good grades so that he can get his bragging rights and seem superior to his friends. There can be endless reasons to why a person decides to do something, which is why it is important to have theoretical frameworks to help organise these reasons better to gain further understanding.
Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]
Self-determination theory is one of the main theories of motivation and explains an individual’s motives through their psychological needs (Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b). Furthermore, it explains what impacts these psychological needs have on an individual’s motives and actions. Specifically, these needs are placed into three categories: autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b).
The need to be autonomous is the need to be in control with the decisions that have been made to do something. It refers to the need to be self-initiating in an action and to be able to regulate these actions.
This is the need to be able to do a certain task successfully or efficiently. It is also the desire to be able to master a skill and to be able to interact effectively with the environment.
This refers to a need to be able to connect with others and have a deeper level of interaction with them. It is the need to create and develop special bonds with those we get along with.
Two core types of motivations that are well known and used profusely to explain why people do the things they do are none other than the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation duo. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can stem off the self-determination theory and be explained within this theoretical framework to give a more personalised definition and exploration of the reasoning behind different motives (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999).
Intrinsic motivation[edit | edit source]
Intrinsic motivation is a natural motivation where there is an innate need to be involved in an interest, to seek challenges, exercise and expand limits, and to learn and understand, all for the reason of individual growth (Vallerand & Losier, 1999). We strive to better ourselves as it is an inherent psychological need and we partake in activities simply because we want to (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Vallerand & Losier, 1999). When we are intrinsically motivated, usually the reasoning behind our actions is that it is fun and why not try something new that may challenge us? Furthermore, it is usually a more spontaneous behaviour and what we choose to do depends on the psychological need we are experiencing at the time (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Vallerand & Losier, 1999).
Fulfilling a psychological need, through positive variables from the environment and surrounding relationships that offers support and nurturing, leads to a satisfaction of that need while being involved in an enjoyable and interesting activity. In other words, when an individual is intrinsically motivated to partake in an interest they have, depending on the environment and relationships, they may feel a satisfaction in achieving autonomy, competence, or relatedness (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999).
Cognitive evaluation theory is a sub-theory of self-determination theory and can help explain the varying levels of intrinsic motivation resulting from positive and negative variables within the environment (Ryan & Deci, 2000b). So, the level and intensity of intrinsic motivation is determined by the environment and relationships experienced during a particular moment as well as how autonomy, competence, and relatedness are affected and perceived (Ryan & Deci, 2000b). Obviously when the interacting variables are positive and have a positive effect on the three psychological needs then the intensity of that motivation is higher. On the other hand, when we perceive that there is a negative impact on our autonomy, competence, and relatedness, then the intensity of that motivation may be relatively low (Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b).
Extrinsic motivation[edit | edit source]
Extrinsic motivation is the most prominent type of motivation there is, as a lot of the reasons we do what we do is based on environmental incentives and outcomes (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999). These incentives can be in many forms such as money, attention, food, prizes, approval, and many, many more (Vallerand & Losier, 1999). Usually, when an individual partakes in an activity to gain something from the environment, they are more concerned about the incentive than the actual activity itself, rarely doing the activity for the fun of it (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000). Of course, it is not just the incentives we look for, it is also the consequences we try to avoid. In other words, extrinsic motivation is also where we feel obliged to do something in order to prevent a negative outcome (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000). There we see Monica making sure she pays all the bills on time to avoid getting late payment fees. Extrinsic motivation can be seen as a more selfish type of motivation as we look for how a particular activity may benefit us or prevent us from a negative outcome, and is more controlled by the environment rather than our psychological needs (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Vallerand & Losier, 1999).
Extrinsic motivation can also be explained on a continuum where four different kinds of extrinsic motivation exist. Furthermore, they are distinguishable through the level of autonomy they have and are known as: external regulation, introjected regulation, identified regulation, and integrated regulation (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999).
External regulation is not autonomous at all and solely revolves around incentives and consequences. Introjected regulation is somewhat autonomous and plays on emotional aspects such as guilt and self-esteem. Identified regulation can be mostly autonomous and focuses on the value and importance of things. Integrated regulation is completely autonomous and involves an individual complying with their values and sense of identity.
Phoebe decides to do pole dancing after hearing Rachel talk about it excitedly. She reckons she can do better than Rachel in a shorter amount of time. She starts her first class but doesn’t try to do all of the moves, going back and forth to take breaks and look blankly at her phone. After class she meets up with a couple of her friends and tells them that she does pole dancing, to which they react excitedly. Phoebe then decides to tell everyone about her new unique sport and enjoys hearing the excited gasps and questions they ask about her pole dancing.
Why do pole dancing?[edit | edit source]
It can be hard to distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in pole dancing as many varying components of these two types of motivation overlaps with each other. In other words, each individual can usually have more than one reason behind why they chose to do pole dancing and it may not necessarily be exclusive to either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Furthermore, it may be that what was originally intrinsic motivation may have developed into eventually including extrinsic motivation due to the incentives that arise later on.
Chandler wants to challenge himself and consistently improve his pole dancing skills. He enjoys pole dancing (perhaps more than Rachel though he wouldn’t admit it) and the freedom it gives him, and he trains harder and harder each time to perfect his skills and technique. Eventually, his peers and instructors urged for him to compete as he is obviously more than qualified to do so. He takes this opportunity to test himself and challenge his capacities and joins a pole dancing competition. Chandler was surprised that he won, receiving a trophy and a $1,000 prize, and is planning to return next year, to see if he could win again.
Pole dancing: Erotic[edit | edit source]
Those who are involved in pole dancing in strip clubs and places alike usually express extrinsic motivations, where the aim is to receive an environmental incentive after completing the task. Individuals who partake in erotic pole dancing do so for monetary reasons, as it is perceived to be one of the easiest ways to get money pretty quickly. Usually theyTemplate:Whop may have primarily chosen to be involved in pole dancing for the money, they began to realise the amount of attention and praise they received from patrons and began to enjoy being in the spotlight (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010).are in dire need of quick money and feel as if they have no other options (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010). Interestingly, the demographic for pole dancers in the UK was predominantly university students who struggle with their finances (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010). However, money is not the only reason why some are involved in the erotic side of pole dancing. There are several accounts where, though they
Interestingly, over time, many individuals involved in erotic pole dancing began to develop intrinsic motivations for this activity. One of the main points is the sense of community they have with their fellow pole dancers, where they become a close-knit family, sometimes rare to find in other social circumstances (Bott, 2006; Roberts, Sanders, Myers, & Smith, 2010). This is linked to relatedness and this psychological need had clearly been satisfied in the pole dancing community. The need for competence was also fulfilled as they developed their skills and sharpened their technique more and more after every experience had.
So, in the erotic side of pole dancing, it is possible to have both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations overlap with each other, however it is still important to note that the extrinsic motivation plays a larger role in this form of pole dancing as most of the individuals involved primarily do it for the money.
Pole dancing: Fitness[edit | edit source]
Motivations involved in pole dancing as a fitness usually involve that of the intrinsic kind. Usually the decision is made on a whim, to just challenge oneself, and try something new.
A sense of autonomy is found where the decision to partake in pole dancing is made by the individual themselves. Usually, in a class setting, there is no strict routine where every student has to keep up regardless of their fitness levels or capabilities. Instead, they are given the freedom to do what they feel is appropriate for them and not to push themselves too hard if they think there is any concern of injury or other. Of course they still follow the different routines that are set during the class, but it is not compulsory to have to do them all. This gives the individuals control over their actions and the decisions they make during class (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; IPDFA, 2015; iSpin, n.d.; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009).
Competence comes when the individual begins to develop skills, where they constantly improve, and an understanding in the fundamentals of pole dancing. Obviously, there is always room for improvement and pole dancing studios offer opportunities to improve pole dancing skills and techniques practiced, while teaching new material at a steady pace. Individuals want to challenge themselves and see how far they can go as they push their boundaries further every time. Pole dancing gives them a great opportunity to do so as there are always areas to improve on and master (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; IPDFA, 2015; iSpin, n.d.; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009).
Relatedness can be found in the pole dancing studios with instructors and fellow classmates, where a sense of community is usually present as the environment in pole dancing studios are made to feel comfortable, supportive, and easy going (Guay, Vallerand, & Blanchard, 2000; IPDFA, 2015; iSpin, n.d.; Ryan & Deci, 2000a; Ryan & Deci, 2000b; Vallerand & Losier, 1999; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009).
Of course, the main reason that many do pole dancing is for the fitness. More and more people have come to understand that pole dancing requires a lot of strength, endurance, flexibility, and focus. It is also a great balance between strength and cardio, while also being fun and unique (IPDFA, 2015; iSpin, n.d; Vallerand & Losier, 1999; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009). This borders into extrinsic motivation territory where expectations of the end result ranges from good health to hopefully a six-pack. Pole dancing is a good way to stay strong, fit, and healthy, while also enjoying the classes the studios provide and being creative with the moves. However, others may only do it for the physical end result, where they believe that doing pole dancing will shorten the time it takes to get a good looking body and a killer six-pack (Vallerand & Losier, 1999; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009).
Other reasons for pole dancing is the competition and incentives that come if they win (IPDFA, 2015). An individual may train and train, day and night, pushing themselves to perfect that one move they have not quite gotten yet, all to win a major pole dancing competition (Vallerand & Losier, 1999). It may not necessarily mean that they only aim to win, it could just be that they want to boost their self-esteem, or gain the attention of others because “who wouldn’t be impressed that I competed in a major pole dancing competition?” (Vallerand & Losier, 1999).
There are many combinations of reasons as to why a person would decide to do pole dancing, be it for their health, self-esteem, prizes, or just for the fun of it. However, it is quite difficult to determine the sole perpetrator for why they joined the pole dancing industry because more than often, they have a myriad of reasons for wanting to try this unique form of fitness.
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
It is important to note that regardless of the reasoning behind why an individual chooses to be a part of the pole dancing community, there is a growing sense of understanding that pole dancing does not have to mean the act of grinding oneself against a pole in the middle of a strip club, but it is now a fitness craze and one that is taking the world by storm.
References[edit | edit source]
Bott, E. (2006). Pole position: Migrant British women producing ‘selves’ through lap dancing work. Feminist Review, 83(1), 23-41.
Dietrich, F. (n.d.) Biography: About me [Web log]. Retrieved from http://www.officiallyfawnia.com/about-me/#biography
Donaghue, N., Kurz, T., & Whitehead, K. (2011). Spinning the pole: A discursive analysis of the websites of recreational pole dancing studios. Feminism & Psychology, 21(4), 443-457.
Guay, F., Vallerand, R. J., & Blanchard, C. (2000). On the assessment of situational intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: The Situational Motivation Scale (SIMS). Motivation and emotion, 24(3), 175-213.
iSpin (n.d.) iSpin. Retrieved from http://www.ispin.com.au/
IPDFA (2015). History of pole. International Pole Dance and Fitness Association. Retrieved from http://ipdfa.com/about/history-of-pole/
Pole Expo (2015). Welcome to the pole expo: Las Vegas. Retrieved from http://www.poleexpo.com/#index
Roberts, R., Sanders, T., Myers, E., & Smith, D. (2010). Participation in sex work: Students' views. Sex Education, 10(2), 145-156.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000a). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000b). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist, 55(1), 68.
Vallerand, R. J., & Losier, G. F. (1999). An integrative analysis of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in sport. Journal of applied sport psychology, 11(1), 142-169.
Whitehead, K., & Kurz, T. (2009). ‘Empowerment' and the pole: A discursive investigation of the reinvention of pole dancing as a recreational activity. Feminism & Psychology, 19(2), 224-244.
World Pole Dance (2015). World Pole Dance. Retrieved from http://www.worldpoledance.com/home/welcome/