“I’m a Poler, and Proud of It”: South Korean Women’s Managed Experiences in a Stigmatized Serious Leisure Activity
2. Background to the Study
2.1. Women’s Experience in Stigmatized Serious Leisure
2.2. The Ambivalent Translation of Pole Dance in Korea
4.1. Creating “Unstigmatized” Identities through Engagement of Serious Leisure: “I AM a Pole Dancer, Pole Athlete, Poler”
“I think of myself as a pole dancer. I don’t know what other people will say about that. But I believe I am. Pole dance has tricks and skills, techniques you have to learn, but it’s from dancing. That’s why it’s called pole dance and that’s why I’m a pole dancer.”—Haeji
“It’s totally a sport. TOTALLY. Not only do you have to be flexible, but you also have to have the strength. It’s like gymnastics. So for me, I’m a pole athlete.”—Doohee
“There are different types of pole dance, I consider myself as the athlete rather than the dancer part. I’m not such a good dancer. But it does depend on which style you choose, like I’ll be the pole athlete when I’m practicing tricks, but when I’m doing exotic pole dance, then that’s when I’m a pole dancer.”—Yeonhee
“The term ‘poler’ is correct. Because I’m not just a dancer. I don’t just dance. I do pole tricks and techniques, and that’s not all dancing. You need core and arm strength, coordination. It’s a sport. What’s so different from gymnastics? Just the fact that I’m using a pole to do the techniques. So dancer? I don’t think so. Just poler. It means someone who does pole.”—Soomi
4.2. Enforcing Tactics to Endure Serious Participation: “I Want to PERFECT My Tricks”
“It’s for self-satisfaction. And I wanted to learn the proper way of poling. For me it wasn’t to become an instructor or anything, but I wanted to be able to do high skilled pole tricks. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to be a certified pole instructor.”—Yeonhee
“I wanted to be a sophisticated poler, meaning that I wanted to perfect my tricks. But certification classes are much more expensive, almost ten times more than normal beginner or intermediate classes. But I just wanted to be really good. Like a real poler. So I guess I couldn’t complain about the prices.”—Sooji
“It’s an art and if it isn’t seen or it isn’t shown to an audience, then no one will know about it. I think it’s a good opportunity to show-off what I have been doing and what I am capable of.”—Minji
“People think it’s stripping. It’s not. It’s a sport. And the only way for people to understand that it is a sport is for us to perform. They won’t know it until they see it for themselves.”—Dohee
4.3. Coping with Stigmatizing Remarks in the Context of Korea: “My Bruises Are a Trophy”
“Bruises mean so much. At first, it’s kind of embarrassing, but now they feel like it’s a mark of achievement. When I don’t get them, I think, maybe I didn’t practice hard enough. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating.”—Minji
“The thing is you’ll get more bruises as a beginner. As you get better you get new bruises on different parts of your body. It feels like you’re going up a level.”—Dohee
“At first I would show my bruises and pole tricks through my videos to people who didn’t understand where I got them [bruises]. But now, I don’t feel the need to explain myself. Pole is a part of me. Why do I need to explain this? People don’t normally explain why they are the way they are. It’s actually pretty rude to ask someone why they are who they are. Doing pole is the same thing.”—Sooji
5. Concluding Remarks
Conflicts of Interest
- Allen, Kerry Louise. 2011. Poles Apart?: Women Negotiating Feminity and Feminism in the Fitness Pole Dancing Class. Ph.D. thesis, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. [Google Scholar]
- Bae, Eul Sun. 2006. Pole Dance, too Sexual? Ohmynews. May 5. Available online: http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/view/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0000328202 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Bartram, Sherry A. 2001. Serious leisure careers among whitewater kayakers: A feminist perspective. World Leisure Journal 43: 4–11. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- BBC. 2017. Pole dancing: Could it one day become an Olympic sport? BBC. October 18. Available online: https://www.bbc.com/sport/41652997 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Benoit, Cecilia, Renay Maurice, Gillian Abel, Michaela Smith, Mikael Jansson, Priscilla Healey, and Douglas Magnuson. 2019. ‘I dodged the stigma bullet’: Canadian sex workers’ situated responses to occupational stigma. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 1–15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Bradley, Mindy S. 2007. Girlfriends, wives, and strippers: Managing stigma in exotic dancer romantic relationships. Deviant Behavior 28: 379–406. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Breeze, Maddie. 2013. Analysing ‘seriousness’ in roller derby: Speaking critically with the serious leisure perspective. Sociological Research Online 18: 1–13. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Brewer, Marilynn B. 1991. The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 17: 475–82. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Cain, Roy. 1991. Stigma management and gay identity development. Social Work 36: 67–73. [Google Scholar] [PubMed]
- Carlson, Jennifer. 2010. The female signifiant in all-women’s amateur roller derby. Sociology of Sport Journal 27: 428–40. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Chae, Hee Sun. 2018. “Not just eye candy, but a form of art” … A story of a pole dancer. SBS News. March 15. Available online: https://news.sbs.co.kr/news/endPage.do?news_id=N1004665904 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Corrigan, Patrick, and Alicia Matthews. 2003. Stigma and disclosure: Implications for coming out of the closet. Journal of mental health 12: 235–48. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Dale, Joshua Paul. 2012. The future of pole dance. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 2: 381–96. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Dilley, Rachel Elizabeth, and Sheila Janet Scraton. 2010. Women, climbing and serious leisure. Leisure Studies 29: 125–41. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Dimler, Ariel J., Kimberley McFadden, and Tara-Leigh F. McHugh. 2017. “I Kinda Feel Like Wonder Woman”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Pole Fitness and Positive Body Image. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology 39: 339–51. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
- Donaghue, Ngaire, Tim Kurz, and Kally Whitehead. 2011. Spinning the pole: A discursive analysis of the websites of recreational pole dancing studios. Feminism & Psychology 21: 443–57. [Google Scholar]
- Ergun, Ayça, and Aykan Erdemir. 2010. Negotiating insider and outsider identities in the field: “Insider” in a foreign land; “outsider” in one’s own land. Field Methods 22: 16–38. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Fennell, Dana. 2018. Pole studios as spaces between the adult entertainment, art, fitness and sporting fields. Sport in Society 21: 1957–73. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ferree, Marx Myra. 2005. Soft repression: Ridicule, stigma, and silencing in gender-based movements. In Authority in Contention. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 85–101. [Google Scholar]
- Finley, Nancy J. 2010. Skating femininity: Gender maneuvering in women’s roller derby. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 39: 359–87. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Goffman, Erving. 1959. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Harmondsworth. [Google Scholar]
- Goffman, Erving. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood cliffs: Prentice Hall. [Google Scholar]
- Gómez-Ramírez, Oralia. 2007. Swinging around the Pole: Sexuality, Fitness, and Stripper Stigma in Erotic Dancing Classes. Ph.D. thesis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. [Google Scholar]
- Griffiths, Kerry. 2016. Femininity, Feminism and Recreational Pole Dancing. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Hallgrímsdóttir, Helga Kristín, Rachel Phillips, Cecilia Benoit, and Kevin Walby. 2008. Sporting girls, streetwalkers, and inmates of houses of ill repute: Media narratives and the historical mutability of prostitution stigmas. Sociological Perspectives 51: 119–38. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Holland, Samantha. 2010. Pole Dancing, Empowerment and Embodiment. Berlin: Springer. [Google Scholar]
- Holland, Samantha, and Feona Attwood. 2009. Keeping fit in six inch heels: The mainstreaming of pole dancing. In Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualization of Western Culture. London: IB Tauris. [Google Scholar]
- Kim, Junhyoung, John Dattilo, and Jinmoo Heo. 2011. Taekwondo participation as serious leisure for life satisfaction and health. Journal of Leisure Research 43: 545–59. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Knapp, Bobbi A. 2015. Garters on the gridiron: A critical reading of the lingerie football league. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 50: 141–60. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Kraus, Rachel. 2010. “We are not strippers”: How belly dancers manage a (soft) stigmatized serious leisure activity. Symbolic Interaction 33: 435–55. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Levy, Ariel. 2005. Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. New York: Free Press. [Google Scholar]
- Link, Bruce G., and Jo C. Phelan. 2001. Conceptualizing stigma. Annual Review of Sociology 27: 363–85. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Liu, Hung-Ling, Michael J. Bradley, and Brooke Burk. 2016. I am roller derby: The serious leisure and leisure identity of roller derby participants. World Leisure Journal 58: 28–43. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- MBC. 2007. The world in this hour. MBC. February 5. Available online: http://imnews.imbc.com/replay/2007/nwtoday/article/1495575_18819.html (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- McNair, Brian. 2002. Sex, Media and the Democratization of Desire. In Striptease Culture, 1st ed. Edited by Brian McNair. London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]
- Mennesson, Christine. 2000. ‘Hard’ women and ‘soft’ women: The social construction of identities among female boxers. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 35: 21–33. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Moe, Angela M. 2012. Beyond the belly: An appraisal of middle eastern dance (aka belly dance) as leisure. Journal of Leisure Research 44: 201–33. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Moon, Seung Yong. 2018a. [Youngji Kim’s Pole Dance Story 1] ‘Cellulite’, the Public Enemy of all Women, Taken down through Pole Dance. The Asia Business Daily. July 12. Available online: http://view.asiae.co.kr/news/view.htm?idxno=2018061811233410436 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Moon, Seung Yong. 2018b. [Youngji Kim’s Pole Dance Story 2] Pole Dance, an Exercise that Creates a Beautiful Body. The Asia Business Daily. July 11. Available online: http://view.asiae.co.kr/news/view.htm?idxno=2018071009335170189 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Murray, Duncan, and Gary Howat. 2009. The ‘enrichment hypothesis’ as an explanation of women’s participation in rugby. Annals of Leisure Research 12: 65–82. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Nicholas, Joanna C., James A. Dimmock, Cyril J. Donnelly, Jacqueline A. Alderson, and Ben Jackson. 2018. “It’s our little secret … an in-group, where everyone’s in”: Females’ motives for participation in a stigmatized form of physical activity. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 36: 104–13. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Paul, John. 2015. Sport and bodily empowerment: Female athletes’ experiences with roller derby, mixed martial arts, and rugby. Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences 6: 402–38. [Google Scholar]
- Pellizzer, Mia, Marika Tiggemann, and Levina Clark. 2016. Enjoyment of sexualisation and positive body image in recreational pole dancers and university students. Sex Roles 74: 35–45. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Phillips, Pamm, and Sheranne Fairley. 2014. Umpiring: A serious leisure choice. Journal of Leisure Research 46: 184–202. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Raisborough, Jayne. 2006. Getting onboard: Women, access and serious leisure. The Sociological Review 54: 242–62. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Raisborough, Jayne. 2007. Gender and serious leisure careers: A case study of women sea cadets. Journal of Leisure Research 39: 686–704. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Rüsch, Nicolas, Matthias C. Angermeyer, and Patrick W. Corrigan. 2005. Mental illness stigma: Concepts, consequences, and initiatives to reduce stigma. European Psychiatry 20: 529–39. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
- Shin, Hee Eun. 2009. Losing Weight by Pole Dancing and Gaming? New Ways of Exercise in the Spotlight. Moneytoday. October 13. Available online: http://news.mt.co.kr/mtview.php?no=2009101310504527582 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Sports_Seoul. 2017a. [Poling Mia’s Pole Dance Story 1] Can I Pole Dance? Sports_Seoul. March 3. Available online: http://www.sportsseoul.com/news/read/488927 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Sports_Seoul. 2017b. [Poling Mia’s Pole Dance Story 2] Not Happy? Shall we Dance? SportsSeoul. April 4. Available online: http://www.sportsseoul.com/news/read/502715 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Sports_Seoul. 2017c. [Poling Mia’s Pole Dance Story 3] Pole Dance Is Not a Sport That Enjoys Exposure! SportsSeoul. June 14. Available online: http://www.sportsseoul.com/news/read/522335 (accessed on 24 June 2019).
- Stebbins, Robert A. 1982. Serious leisure: A conceptual statement. Pacific Sociological Review 25: 251–72. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Stebbins, Robert A. 1992. Amateurs, Professionals, and Serious Leisure. Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press—MQUP. [Google Scholar]
- Stebbins, Robert A. 1997. Casual leisure: A conceptual statement. Leisure Studies 16: 17–25. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Taylor, Jodie. 2011. The intimate insider: Negotiating the ethics of friendship when doing insider research. Qualitative Research 11: 3–22. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Thompson, William E., and Jackie L. Harred. 1992. Topless dancers: Managing stigma in a deviant occupation. Deviant Behavior 13: 291–311. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Thompson, William E., Jack L. Harred, and Barbara E. Burks. 2003. Managing the stigma of topless dancing: A decade later. Deviant Behavior 24: 551–70. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Wheaton, Belinda. 2004. Introduction: Mapping the lifestyle sport-scape. In Understanding Lifestyle Sport. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, pp. 13–40. [Google Scholar]
- Whitehead, Kally, and Tim Kurz. 2009. ‘Empowerment’ and the pole: A discursive investigation of the reinvention of pole dancing as a recreational activity. Feminism & Psychology 19: 224–44. [Google Scholar]
Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is one of the top three public broadcasting companies in South Korea, which was established in 1961. It currently has the largest broadcasting production facilities in the nation.
Pole Dance Korea is the first pole studio in South Korea, which was established in 2008. Though it is not the largest studio in Korea in the current years, it is the longest running pole studio that hosts annual performances, regional competitions, and world championships.
‘Poling Mia’ is the online user name of director/pole dancer of Polers Korea Pole Dance Studio in Seoul, Korea. Polers Korea Pole Dance Studio is one of the largest pole dance studio institutions which owns a total of four studios in different locations within Seoul.
The Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) is a national television and radio network system which was founded in 1990. It is one of the top three publicly distributing broadcasting companies along with MBC and KBS (Korea Broadcasting System).
|Name||Age||Years of Participation||Participated Competitions||Occupation|
|Dohee 1||33||3||2 Int’l|
|Haeji||33||3||2 Nat’l||Self-employed artist|
|Yeonhee||30||5||1 Nat’l||Office employee|
|Sooji||25||4||1 Nat’l||Graduate student|
|Minji||23||3||5 Nat’l||Part-time employee|
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Kim, Y.; Kwon, S.-Y. “I’m a Poler, and Proud of It”: South Korean Women’s Managed Experiences in a Stigmatized Serious Leisure Activity. Soc. Sci. 2019, 8, 199. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8070199
Kim Y, Kwon S-Y. “I’m a Poler, and Proud of It”: South Korean Women’s Managed Experiences in a Stigmatized Serious Leisure Activity. Social Sciences. 2019; 8(7):199. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8070199Chicago/Turabian Style
Kim, Yunjung, and Sun-Yong Kwon. 2019. "“I’m a Poler, and Proud of It”: South Korean Women’s Managed Experiences in a Stigmatized Serious Leisure Activity" Social Sciences 8, no. 7: 199. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8070199