Is it wrong to take pole dancing classes?

Harmony (Dust) Grillo Blog, Featured, Straight from Harmony's Heart, The Truth About the Sex Industry 19 Comments

“What do you think about pole dancing classes?”

Since the emergence of the pole-dancing craze, I get asked this question at least once a month.

At one point, I even heard of a ministry that was using the women in the strip club to teach holding pole-dancing classes as fundraisers to raise money for the organization.

Ummm.  Okay.  I could think of about a hundred other fundraising options that wouldn’t involve re-exploiting women.  I digress.

I have a lot of friends who have taken pole-dancing classes.  Many who do so without any conviction whatsoever. I tread carefully because while I don’t think it is my job to make a moralistic determination here on whether or not pole-dancing classes are “wrong”, I do have some thoughts on them.

I think there is a bigger question here.  “What is the motivation for taking pole dancing classes?”

Many women note what a great work out they are.  There is a certain cirque du soliel-esque element to them that requires a lot of strength and agility.  But I could take an aerial arts class and achieve the same results.

Besides the desire to get a good workout, many women say they enjoy pole-dancing classes because it makes them feel sexy.  Our sexuality is a part of our design.  But what is sexy?  What does healthy sexuality look like?

Pole dancing originated in strip clubs where a woman displays herself for a man (or a room full of men).  She is essentially becoming porn for him.  Who she is doesn’t matter.  What she thinks doesn’t matter.  What matters is that she becomes an object on which he can project his fantasy.  In exchange for this service, he pays her money.

This is the image of sexuality that pole dancing projects.  I believe this begs the question, is this what we want to model our sexuality off of?

Still many women say they are interested in pole dancing as a way to spice up their sex lives. Over the past several years, I have had at least 3 women from church ask if I would be willing to teach them how to strip for their husbands.  The first time I received a request like this, I thought, “Well, their married right?”.  By the third time I was asked (and respectfully declined), I began to wonder if there wasn’t more to it.

Every single one of those couples is divorced today.  And I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

As it turns out, in these scenarios, the desire to learn how to strip was a last stitch effort to save their rocky marriage.  Each of the husbands were addicted to porn and unsatisfied with their sex life.  The wives thought if they could just be more like the women their husbands were so enamored with, maybe they could win back their husband’s attention.

It didn’t work.  Sex addiction is an insatiable thing. Always wanting more.  Never satisfied.

In light of this topic, my friend said this, “What if a woman told her spouse that she needed him to dress up in an Armani suit and pretend to give her a diamond for her to be turned on?  Isn’t that the same thing?”  How would that man feel if she could only be intimate with him if he portrayed a “Rico Suave” fantasy?

Married couples should have awesome, thriving sex lives.  I personally believe that love and intimacy are the building blocks of great sex.  But I think fantasy is the opposite of intimacy.  Fantasy says, “This is who I want you to be.”  Intimacy says, “I want to know you and be fully known by you”.

I don’t care to be anybody’s moral police. That’s not the point here.  But I would suggest that if the motivation for taking pole-dancing lessons is to save a marriage in trouble, or to compete with a pornified version of sexuality, it’s probably not a great idea.  What do you think?



Harmony Karen Press pic
Harmony (Dust) Grillo

Founder/Executive Director


Harmony Dust founded Treasures in 2003 while completing a Master’s in Social Welfare at UCLA. To date, she has trained outreach leaders that have gone on to establish more than 97 sex industry outreaches on 5 continents. She has been featured in various media sources, including Glamour Magazine, The Dr. Drew Show, and The Tyra Banks Show. She is a sought after speaker and her memoir, Scars & Stilettos, gives an account of the journey of going from working in strip clubs, to leading an organization that reaches women in the sex industry on a global scale.








Comments 19

  1. Alayna Richard

    Great article Harmony!! Really good points, and thank you for saying it. Very interesting about the now divorced couples too. .. I have always had reservations about the phenomenon, thank you for putting yours into writing!

  2. MJ

    Thanks for your opinion. I’m a new believer in Christ. Had a rough past in the sex industry myself and I still haven’t gotten over it. I justified my way into the industry by taking one small step at a time until it got completely out of hands. If I say yes to pole dancing today then what else will I be tempted into doing tomorrow. Give me a few moments with the devil and I can justify anything. I think salsa dancing can be sexy, how about married couples try something like that instead? It’s a good workout and can be intimate without being perverted.

  3. Patrick

    Harmony, I am glad that you wrote this article. There are obviously many aspects to this topic, but I am glad you chose to speak about this one.

    Being a man, I think I can rightfully say: If your husband needs you to strip for him, he is in trouble. Sex has at that point strayed from the path that God made it an expression for. The emotion to really be close to somebody and become one with them is very different from the desire to get simple lust satisfied. One is rooted in egotism, which focuses on MY needs and the other is focusing on being ONE flesh with my partner, which is obviously what God told us would be the marker of a good marriage and a deep and truly satisfying love.

    Which stories are we believing? The ones that this world is telling us? Or are we believing and living the truth that we get from God.

    Remember that there is still Satan who is walking around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. He knows that in order to make somebody fall, he first needs to take them away from the herd or in essence, he needs to get you a little more into his direction. So, ask yourself, how does pole dancing change your thoughts about the profession of a stripper in the long run? How does it affect your husband if you might even strip for him? Could it be that it is rather like giving him a taste of the world that Jesus wanted us to be seperate from, than showing him how fulfilling true intimacy really is?

    The truth is, real intimacy is a process, something we have to learn more and more, but which will be more fulfilling in the end. The world only offers the kind of sex that quickly appeals to our carnal desires and deceptive hearts. This is NOT something a Christian wants to do, because it will slowly make you walk into the wrong direction and tempt you in ways that are not necessary.

    Get closer to your partner and find your identity as a couple in connection with God. You will then have all you need.

    Now sport. 😉

  4. Sheri Brown

    Excellent article Harmony! I have run into this a lot too. I find it completely ironic that the same women who want to take pole dancing classes are the first women who want to throw stones at the stripper. It’s interesting how they are excepting it now. I feel like it is a very sneaky subtle way for the enemy to come in and deceive women. I usually share the history of the asherah pole with them because that gives a whole new twist to the pole for Christian women. :))

  5. Daniel Mendez

    This is an excellent article considering a story I heard last year regarding a women “pole dancing for Jesus”. In any event, this brought up for me some thoughts I hope I can share regarding another issue that is similar, per how wives or of course for relationships outside of marriage that I had gotten involved with during a period of my life that I was backslidden, and that is the following. While some women can approach porn or anything sexual like men do, it seems that in general or more so, men and women approach porn and arousal differently. For instance, a couple watching porn together, for arousal purposes anyway, to stimulate foreplay or what have you, sometimes encouraged by the woman in the relationship (though it could be initiated by the man – but may be subtly avoided because of the possible true motivation by a man, so he avoids initiating it), in order to start “something” that may be lacking or just to need it to get us there, does not generally do for a man what it does for a women, I believe, and I say generally (and of course, I’m not a women). As a guy, while I may be with a particular women, watching another women in a sexual scenario, and especially if she is sexually attractive to that man, may certainly get me as a man “performing” a certain way to “welcome” this scenario with the women I’m with as she may “feel” that I am now giving her the attention that she is seeking or feels she is lacking. So that me as the man, I am definitely turned on by the women on that screen virtually, and my arousals have everything to do with her, though in the real world I am doing (like a nice guy would, whose now having it both ways – virtually and in real time) do I what I am NEEDING to do for her to give her at least the impression that I am all for her at that moment, but in all reality towing the line between getting the typical pleasure of porn (as if alone) while at the same time, doing what I have to in order to “please” this girl I am with, whether it is real or not or whether this is real love or not. I know a guy can live in both worlds simultaneously, especially if he is “creative” in serving himself, even if he is acting out the part of showing that he “loves” the one he is with. For me this is hypocritical, double-minded, self serving, etc. Now while she may be in the same boat so to speak in that both of us are just doing what we “need to do” to find pleasure and satisfaction, it is nonetheless, less than what God intended. For all I’ve said here, I know, because I have been that guy, so I at least know that in that scenario, what it did for me as a guy, is not what it necessarily does for a women. Certainly your look at the fantasy aspect is right on…as it is, now for those in Christ and trying to keep their marriage bed holy, anything less than what God would approve, should we consider that He is also right there in the room, and seeking to do all to the glory of God, I think, if we haven’t become too calloused in our hearts, should as the men who are called to “guard” this marriage bed (and not that women aren’t called to this as well – but men tend to have the biggest struggle and negligence with it, is what I mean and since God is calling us to be the priests of our home I say it this way)against all outside influences that could cause collapse to what God is building, need to consider such compromise as truly of the devil. Even considering like Sarah, who introduce Hagar into the intimate place of her marriage to Abraham, should say no to such compromise, otherwise, if not literally, but spiritually, we may be also welcoming a world of hurt to our marriages and families, with such a compromise, that could result in what we have today between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael – one from supernatural birthing and one from natural birthing, causing some of our biggest worldwide problems today with the other children of Abraham who despise inherently not getting what would have naturally been theirs as being the older son, but not in God’s economy. Anyway, sorry to be so lengthy…but Christina knows I can be this way… bravo on this article Harmony and the other great insightful commentary on it as well.

  6. tony dragna

    Harm, Please spare me the “Exploitation of Women” routine. Everything is fine while you are young pulling down the big bucks, but when you get old and leave the biz, then you get all upset and decide to become a Christian and attack all aspects of “THE BIZ”. Any man who buys porn or goes to a Gentleman’s Club is a “CHUMP”. The employees of these businesses are the “EXPLOITERS”. As for POLE DANCING…who cares…means nothing to me, in the end “IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY”.

  7. Andee

    I was very intrigued to read your thoughts on this. I actually took pole dancing classes years ago, both before I knew the Lord and just after I came to know Him. My view on it today is different than it was then. When I was taking these classes, I met many women who never had (and never would) plan to dance for men, even their husbands. Many said that they did it to take back what was stolen from them by men and by society.

    At that time, this made sense to me. As I look back now, though, I recognize that many were attempting to use the very thing that was taken from them (their sexuality) and using it as a weapon. As if to say, “I have control of objectifying myself and no man is in control of that.” But they are still relying on using their sexuality and being objectified, even if they are objectifying themselves. So many were fueled by a fury at men and letting that be a driving force behind their pole dancing.

    I am still angry that women are objectified. But instead of fighting with sexuality, I fight with love. I love women who I know are hurting. I try to lead them to know what God thinks of them- that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. For those who are caught in the web of desiring that women be objectified, I see that underneath it all is a fear of true intimacy. I pray that they will receive a revelation of God’s love for them. Perfect love casts out all fear.

    Thank you so much for sharing on this Harmony!

  8. Rev. John Hohe

    Harmony and others, I feel this has some similarities to the whole issue of food sacrificed to idols that Paul confronts. He seems to say that while it can be okay, you certainly NEVER want to intentionally cause another person to stumble. Certainly Paul was concerned about those who had come out of idol worship being scandalized. And certainly if the food makes one think of idol worship then it is troublesome.

    In light of that and in light of how women are sexualized in our culture, I’d be hard pressed to say it is a good thing. Pole dancing’s assocation is very linked to images of stripe clubs and the like. I find that it is unlikely that neither partner makes that association. For the male it may lead him to remember past outings at strip clubs or for the female the pressure to be as pretty or sexual as the girls she imagines do this for a living.

    I think Paul’s approach is very pastoral with out issuing a new law. Rather, the principle of love should prevail and such love does not seek to harm others. I certainly think telling others that they do pole dancing is not wise since it can scandize others and may be perceived as a poor witness.

    So maybe there is freedom to do pole dancing but our concern for others may make it a less than wise thing to do. Therefore I might give up my frreedom in order not to offend, scandalize or harm any one else (including self)> This way of love that Paul sets forth does much more than any new Christain law (i.e Thou shalt not pole dance) ever could. God bless as you consider this my offering to a rather (we did not cover this in seminary) question! 🙂

  9. MJ

    In response to Tony Dargna’s comment on February 26, 2012 at 10:15 am:

    I was at the height of my career in the industry when I left and people thought I was nuts for leaving. I was told that I would never make that kind of money in the real world and they were right. I never did but I’m glad I left. I didn’t find God until a few years later but I promise there isn’t any amount of money out there that compares to the love of Christ, grace of God and value as a human being I have now. It’s hard for anyone who doesn’t know God to understand this. It’s not up to a mere human to explain such a phenomenon anyway… I’ve felt like Tony and didn’t want to set foot in a church because I assumed everyone was out to judge me. Unfortunately I ran into many so-called Christians in the past who did judge and turned me further away from Christ but it’s not up to a human to save us anyway. I came to Christ because through the spirit not through man and that’s how true faith works. Faith isn’t earned, you either have it or you don’t. Seems like you’ve been hurt Tony, I’m sorry for that… Christians aren’t God, they are human and humans hurt one another, that’s why we need Christ who came to save us from ourselves. That’s the plain and simple message that brought me to Christ, I pray you will soon find peace in Him as well brother 🙂

  10. Nicole

    I take pole dancing classes now and I am a Christian. My family (biological and church) know what I do. I do it for the exercise and friendship. I’ve never danced for my husband (but would if he asked). Several of the women at my studio are Christian and the Manager is a Youth Minister. I agree that it can be used to exploit women and for other wrong reasons, but dancing, in and of itself, is not evil. I think it should be up to everyone to make their own choices if it is right for them or not.

  11. Jesika

    Thank you Harmony for bringing up this topic. A man shared with me once how his ex-girlfriend took pole dancing classes. As a former stripper so much anger welled up inside me. I asked him ‘Would it be cool to have heroin-shooting classes?’. For me working in the adult entertainment industry was self-destructive. I was surrounded by people with addictions and I fed those addictions. I’m not sure if I can voice it clearly, but pole dancing classes feel like someone emulating something that destroys lives. When I worked at the club the strippers made fun of girls who took these classes. And the girls in the classes seemed to feel they were better people than the strippers. Bottom line. It doesn’t seem like pole dancing classes were bringing anyone much joy, and I’m certain it doesn’t create more intimate loving relationships. Thank you for taking time to write this blog.

  12. David

    “What if a woman told her spouse that she needed him to dress up in an Armani suit and pretend to give her a diamond for her to be turned on?”

    Great point! Made me cringe! Can’t think of many guys who would be comfortable with being forced to dress up to turn on their wife. Really puts things in perspective for us men.

  13. bob j.

    no, not a good thing. Todays women are getting more & more sassy & not considering their role as a wife to their husbands. Remember ladies, the bible makes more references to you as a wife than a mother. Why pole dancing ? it is done to entertain men. If you want excersize, walk, run, cycle, not something that is done by normally drug addicts & hookers. ( I know this for a fact)

  14. Katrina aka Joy Marie

    Hello my friends! I’m Catholic & I’ve been pole dancing 4 several years. I’m self-taught & I’ve never taken a pole class but I’ve taught several. I’m 1 of the best dancers in the state of AZ. I absolutely love pole dancing just like I also love many other forms of dance. I’m a competitive Irish dancer. Many would say pole dancing is the sexiest form of dance there is & Irish is the least sexy. Personally, I think “sexy” is in the eye of the beholder. Pole dancing & Irish dancing both make me feel powerful. I can do something most others can’t. I also love 2 perform. I’m naturally a very shy person but when I dance I feel confident & beautiful. Dancing 4 me is a way 2 communicate my feelings 2 people. It’s much easier 4 me 2 share my inner self with others than talking. If people find my dancing sexy or asexual is really all in their own mind. I can dance in a way I think is sexy or unsexy but it subjective, not objective. I think pole dancing is a beautiful & legitimate form of dance. On a purely physical level, pole dancing is 1 of the best workouts ever invented. I gained the body control, strength & flexibility of a ballet dancer. On an emotional level, pole has been extremely theraputic. When I’m angry I can dance angry, when I’m happy I can celebrate by dancing, etc. On a spiritual level, pole dancing can bring u closer 2 God like many other things. I suppose it could also bring u further away. It depends on the individual. In the end, a pole is just an inanimate object. It’s the dancer that gives meaning 2 the dance. I love dancing 2 beautiful spiritual music. Most of the dancing I do is when I’m alone. I feel like my dancing can even b a prayer or offering 2 God. Or it can just b the sheer joy of flying through the air under your own power akin 2 the things u did on a jungle gym as a child. In fact, whereas many c pole dancing as adult, I can also c it as very childlike. They even have pole dancing in elementary schools in Britain. My point is, pole dancing is what YOU make it & if u perform infront of others, what they take away from it is gonna b determined by their own personality, mindset, relationship with others & God, etc.

  15. Tony Dragna

    “POLE DANCING” in Elementary School in England? Do you think the LAPD will give me a license for Elementary School Children “POLE DANCING”? As for MJ..thanks for the blessing, but I am fine. Too many people seem to really read me wrong. I am Just Me…Tell Jesus that “I AM ALIVE AND DOING FINE”.

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