Looking for a nice healthy exercise routine for your preschool daughter this year? A dance studio in Duncan, B.C., has a great new idea: pole-dancing lessons. It’s perfect. Not only can the apple of your eye shed a few unsightly pounds and tone up those buns and abs, but in the process she can gain valuable employment skills to help defray the cost of college.
Kristy Craig, owner of the aptly-named Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness Studio, dismisses the notion that she is peddling the sexualization of children. For one thing, the whole pole-dancing routine was not her idea, she was merely responding to demand. “My existing students were asking about it for their children,” she explains. “They were saying, ‘My daughter plays on my pole at home all the time. I’d love for her to learn how to do things properly and not hurt herself.’”
This pole-dancing is not like pole-dancing as you may have seen it in the local tavern or strip club or on The Sopranos, because as Craig says, “The sexuality is being taken out of it. It’s highlighting the gymnastic, athletic and circus acrobatics aspect.” Well, whew! For a minute there we thought it was highlighting pole dancing. As in stripper pole. There is no truth to the rumour that advanced classes will highlight the gymnastic, athletic, and circus acrobatics aspect of lap-dancing.
In a related story, six-year-old Alana Thompson, star of the popular American TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, has appeared on YouTube, dancing for dollars on a table in a bar. Georgia Child Protection Services investigated the incident and brought it to court, but the judge threw out the case, perhaps because, as Alana’s mother pointed out, “At least (the bar) wasn’t one of those sleazy ones.”
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is an offshoot of the program Toddlers and Tiaras, which follows the children’s beauty pageant circuit in which Alana is a contestant. Other contestants include Maddy Jackson who at five years old has appeared as Dolly Parton, complete with padded breasts and bum, as well as in a faux-cop outfit modelled on a stripper’s costume. Maddy is now the subject of a custody suit. Eight-year-old pageant contestant Britney Campbell got Botox injections for her birthday last year, a new addition to her quarterly beauty routine which also includes – bafflingly – waxing.
In an interview, Britney reported that, “My friends think it’s cool I have all the treatments and they want to be like me. I check every night for wrinkles; when I see some I want more injections. They used to hurt, but now I don’t cry that much… I also want a boob and nose job soon, so that I can be a star.”
Doctors don’t normally give Botox to children, but not to worry, Britney’s mom buys it on the Internet, and bums the needles from a diabetic friend. No word yet on where she plans to pick up the Junior Miss Home Breast Enhancement Kit.
In a heartbreaking speech at this year’s Newsweek and the Daily Beast Women in the World Summit, actor and activist Ashley Judd described Atlanta, capital city of Honey Boo Boo’s home state, as “absolutely over-run with sexual exploitation of children.” She might have been speaking of pageant princesses, tarted up like pedophile bait and turned out on the runway, but she wasn’t. She was talking about out-and-out sex-slavery. Children are pimped out to men who travel to Atlanta for just that purpose. I wonder, could it be a coincidence that in the same state where you can toss dollar bills at a child of six swaggering in Daisy Dukes on a bar table, you can rent a child for the purpose of rape?
You can, of course, pay to rape a child in other parts of the world besides Georgia. According to a June 2012 story in the Vancouver Sun, 15,000 people, most of them women and children destined for the sex trade, are trafficked into Canada each year. The figure for Canadian-born victims, a disproportionate number of them aboriginal girls, is similar. A sex slave sells for as little as $5,000 in Canada, and can net her pimp as much as $280,000 a year for as long as she survives.
Vancouver parents with more money than sense who put their children into de-sexualized pole dancing classes would no doubt be outraged to find themselves mentioned in the same breath as people who pimp children to pedophiles. They would probably also balk at any comparison between themselves and mothers who exhibit their sexed-up toddlers at child beauty pageants.
But the pageant mothers don’t think they’re doing anything wrong either. Just like Ms. Craig, most insist that the “sexuality” has been taken out of what they do. Some of them might need a little coaching in getting that message across, though. Questioned about the controversy surrounding the sexualization of junior pageant queens, one mother replied with remarkable candor, “Who cares? She’s my daughter, I’m gonna do whatever I want with her. Git over it, people.”
Al Pope won the Ma Murray Award for Best Columnist in B.C./Yukon in 2010 and 2002.