I Stand With Kandice Mason
Written by Bree Jordan
As a former educator and someone who makes a living working with young people, one of my biggest concerns as a pole dancer has been, “What would happen if my students saw this?”
I am in no way ashamed of my art or my sport, and while I am very passionate about what I do, I do recognize that many people hold negative stigmas about pole dancing. I believe at some point, all polers have been degraded in some way (big or small), because of their choice to practice pole. And so when I began pole I wondered...I sometimes STILL wonder: should I put my page on private? should I make a page at all? should I talk about pole at work? will people be understanding if they see this? is this video too “raunchy”?
A few days ago, I came across a headline that rocked me: “Pole-dancing teacher suspended after video leaked”. It was the story of Kandice Mason, a fellow pole dancer, educator, and mother of two. Kandice was suspended recently from beginning a new position teaching 6th grade in Hoke County, North Carolina. Read the full Buzzfeed article here.
I was outraged. What grounds did they have to do this? Would the same thing have happened if she were white? Or a man? Or posted videos of another sport? Gymnastics, or ballet, perhaps?
Poletry in Motion spoke with Kandice to talk to her about her experience and how she is coping. She shares with Poletry in Motion:
“When you have to hide and make everything private it defeats the purpose of you getting to share your art. Everyone else gets to share their art, but pole dancers are taboo and have to be tucked away in the closet just because of people’s stigmas. I am not the only woman this has happened to. People are letting great and talented people go unrecognized because of their own moral hang-ups.
Ultimately, all of the attention on me is taking away from the attention those students deserve. Hoke County has a lot of high needs and I am concerned that with all of this, the kids are not getting the necessary attention that they deserve. I had no idea this would go national. If people want to support me, I urge them NOT to call the school, as that ties up resources in the main office. It makes it hard for parents who are trying to handle things at the school with their own children. If people feel compelled to speak out, try avenues such as sending a letter, donating to my GoFundMe or signing the petition that’s been going around.
A lot of people have reached out to me voicing their support. I know I can’t respond to everyone who does try to reach out to me, but I want them to know that I do see it. This has been very hard for me and it is touching to see all of the support. I truly appreciate it.”
Read her full interview with Poletry in Motion.
Kandice’s story is not unfamiliar to those in the pole community. Many comments in her defense were, “But she’s not even a stripper.” These statements, while well meaning, demonstrate just how much further we have to go as a society in accepting pole in ALL of its forms as something that is worthy of respect and appreciation. What we all know for sure, was that had Kandice been a woman practicing ANY other sport or artform -- ballet, gymnastics, volleyball, swimming-- the reaction would not have been the same. Had Kandice been a man, whose hobbies included Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, shooting, or collecting guns the reaction would not have been the same. But because her hobby is pole dancing she has been ostracized and dragged through the mud.
At Poletry in Motion, our goal has always been and will always be deconstructing the oppressive ideologies that keep pole dancing in the shadows. That put women like Kandice Mason through such traumatic and demeaning experiences. That over sexualize and demoralize women for simply being themselves and doing what makes them happy. That pit women who strip or do sex work for a living against women who don’t. That create fear around embracing something we love. That create shame around sharing our art. We stand in full support of Kandice Mason and every woman who has ever had to endure such treatment. We thank her and applaud her for taking a stand for ALL of us.