Mikella Walker graduated with a masters from Antioch University in Seattle, WA and blends psychotherapy with specialties in Women’s Studies and Buddhist Psychology. In her late twenties, Mikella felt as though she had two careers. One with her own private practice in downtown Seattle, and another in dating men. A few nights before her thirtieth birthday and after the depressing end of another relationship, she had an epiphany. In order to fix her chances of a lasting relationship, she must first fix herself. After her moment of enlightenment, she spent her 30th year rediscovering who she is, celebrating and embracing her transformation, and combining it with her expertise in relationship psychology. Once her makeover was complete, she met her husband (who proposed to her after three weeks!).
Adventures in Pole Dancing
~A pair of my neighbor’s daisy dukes––check! ~Second-hand store wanna-be stripper heels––check! ~A smile disguising the question, “what the hell did I sign myself up for?” ––DOUBLE CHECK!
A couple weeks ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in a little Girl’s Night Out. Knowing this was a great opportunity to meet women my age, I accepted the invitation only to discover that I had just signed up for a pole dancing class. Since the beginning of the pole fitness craze, I could not comprehend a woman’s desire to subject herself to the so-called “art” of pole dancing–– and for FUN? With a women’s studies background, I strongly disapproved of the idea, mentally stamping pole fitness as “RAUNCH CULTURE” in scarlet red letters. I truly believed this exercise trend could single handedly jeopardize everything my homegirl Gloria Steinem and I have fought for on a daily basis. That was until I took the class.
During 60 minutes of cat-crawling, hip swirling, air humping and trying to spin graciously around a shiny gold pole, I was surprised to find hidden discomfort within my sexuality. This was very frustrating given how I have always considered myself sexually uninhibited and free. I mean, I was a psychotherapist specializing in relationships AND sex therapy for Goddess sake! I thought I had this whole thing figured out by now. But when feelings of inauthenticity and guilt emerged, I knew it was my obligation to strip away not only my clothes but the awkwardness hidden underneath them.
While I looked in the mirror and perfected the “body-wave,” it struck me that my discomfort had stemmed from internalized oppression. Outside of “Little Darlings,” our culture frowns on women being outwardly sensual and I knew then that a part of me did as well. It is MY body (damn it) and I should not only be proud but also be open and honest with how it expresses itself sexually. Feeling ashamed, insecure, and embarrassed in a class with a bunch of women was the opposite of being “feminist.” I should be pro my body and my sexuality and no golden phallus of a pole should have any power over me. I wasn’t dancing for men because my baby-daddy wasn’t paying child support or to make last month’s rent. I was dancing for me and for “the liberty and the pursuit of ‘sex’-iness (sorry, couldn’t help myself) without fear of being judged by myself or by others.
Ladies, I felt compelled to write this blog because I am sure, if we dig deep, we will find the same hidden discomfort in our sexuality. I hope this inspires you take pole-fitness, burlesque, salsa, and/or any other exercise that encourages women to explore their sexuality. It feels so good to flip my hair and caress my curves with pride instead of the usual awkwardness and shame because I am showing my body (not my man) that I am in love with it.
Pole fitness was not only the most physically INTENSE class I have ever taken but also the most enlightening. I am now taking a 5 class series with Lisa Gaultney at Inversion Pole Fitness in Mt. Pleasant, SC. If you are in the neighborhood and are interested, come join us! http://inversionspolefitness.com/