Murray Edwards College undergraduates received an email last Wednesday looking to “gauge any interest” into holding weekly pole dancing sessions in the female-only college.
Women’s Officer Jess Burrows told The Cambridge Student: “While most members of the JCR, including myself, were not made aware in advance of the email regarding pole dancing, any member of Murray Edwards is of course entitled to gauge interest in any activity she may feel is worth introducing to the college.”
Burrows is “sure it is a prospect that will prompt plenty of debate both within the JCR and entire college community”.
However, Clare Mohan, President of the Cambridge Feminist Society, deemed it a “very odd decision for Murray Edwards to have made, especially considering the way that women’s colleges in Cambridge are looked up to as patrons and promoters of gender equality in the world.”
She argued: “pole dancing cannot be separated from its social context as a form of entertainment synonymous with the sex trade”, which “perpetuates the idea that women’s sexuality is best expressed through the visual titillation of women and therefore contributes to a culture of objection which in many ways can be seen to keep the gender barrier to gender equality closed.
“You would think that JCRs (particularly of women’s colleges) would have learned lessons from the response to the Union’s offer of pole ‘fitness’ classes.”
The Cambridge Union caused a furore last year after introducing ‘pole fitness’ classes to its Easter Termcard to help members combat exam stress. The classes proved so popular they were brought back for Michaelmas, and continue to take place.
Should they go ahead, the proposed sessions would be taught by the same trainer as the pole fitness classes at the Cambridge Union.
Judith Welikala – Deputy News Editor