Disclaimer: This post has been written in a bit of a flurry so I apologise in advance is anything I say is inaccurate or offends someone in some way. It’s hard to articulate when you’re a bit rattled!

If you’re an aerialist, stripper or a woman who whos a little bit of skin from time to time, you will likely be quite aware of the recent Instagram crackdown that’s occurring. We can all agree it’s quite annoying, but the issue lies much deeper than a few hashtags.

Shadow Banning

I can’t give you all the details on FOSTA-SESTA, but I can tell you that the team Instagram is freaking out. In order to avoid facing any potential consequences for specific content, the company is cracking down hashtags to ensure no “inappropriate” content gets through. Of course, we know for a fact that this isn’t working. So, what exactly is causing such a disruption? The answer is simple: AI.

Let it be known that this isn’t a person who works for Instagram making a decision on what is and isn’t allowed. Artificial Intelligence is playing a crucial role here, but we have seen in the past what a mistake machine learning can be. In 2016, Microsoft proved the dangers of machine learning if not monitored. And now, Instagram is repeating history.

To put it simply, the Instagram machine has been told that if certain hashtags are allowing nudity to slip through the cracks, they must be shut down. But how much skin is considered nudity? Clearly, it’s gone into overdrive and is shutting down almost anything that fits the description on paper.

Losing our voice

The real issue here, however, isn’t with the shadowban. It’s to do with the fact that Instagram isn’t batting an eyelid to it. The company is more interested in staying in the green with US politicians than sticking by those who are losing their voice.

The intent here is supposed to protect us, but protection and silence are FAR from the same thing. The idea that hiding us is a way of protection is pure bullshit. The idea that it’s keeping younger audiences safe from inappropriate content is also bullshit. There is no gain from this except maybe for those who still believe that women should “know their place”, which is again, BULLSHIT.

Protecting the young

If we consider the idea that Instagram is concerned about things such as sex trafficking, rapists, etc, then I question why they don’t focus on the exposure of children. While a community of consenting adults is under scrutiny for their online exposure, parents are allowed to publicly expose the lives of their children and share photos of them for anyone to see, and I mean ANYONE.

If a pole dancer or stripper is supposedly putting themselves in danger, then why does no one think the same thing about parents and children? Well, you can’t exactly blame the victim if they’re underage. What’s more, if you can’t find anything to pass off as “suggestive”, then you can’t point a finger. So they point the finger at us because it’s easier.

Mainstream media scrutiny

But Instagram isn’t the only form of mainstream media that is painting us with a negative brush. Everyone is extremely excited about the movie Hustlers, which will be released later this year. Me? Not so much. It’s not that I think the movie will be bad. I actually have high hopes for the narrative! What I don’t like, however, is the effects the movie could have on the opinions of strippers and pole dancers.

Given the fact that we are under a lot of pressure to prove ourselves, do we really need a movie about strippers that con men? Do we honestly want to allow this idea that strippers are thieving cheats? Yes, I personally expect to leave the cinema thinking “Oceans meets the strip club”. But I also expect there to be a lot of people who leave the cinema thinking that this is what strippers do. It’s not. It’s far from an accurate representation and now is NOT the time for us to be put under such a spotlight.

What can we do?

Well, I don’t know what we can do about Hustlers, except maybe turn up at the cinema in our best Pleasers. When it comes to Instagram, however, there are a few small steps we could take to hopefully encourage change:

  • Sign the petition on change.org
  • Address certain hashtags
    • Click “learn more” at the top of a banned hashtag feed
    • Click “no” under “was this information Useful?
    • Click “The solution doesn’t work” and explain why
  • Use alternative hashtags that are acceptable such as
    • #polefitness #workthatpole #workthepole #stripping #polelife #poleforall #aerialnation #pdnation #poleuk #polersofinsta #polefam #offthepole #polefamily #pdcommunity #pdfamily #polekisses #ilovepoledancing #iheartpole #xpoleuk #lovepoledancing #pdspins
  • Keep posting. Don’t apologise for your content. If you’re worried about the hashtags, steer clear for a while, but don’t let yourself be silenced.

I don’t know whether this was a post that would offer a solution, or if I just wanted to rant. But if you’ve made it this far, just remember that whether you’re a pole dancer, stripper, sex worker or more, we need to stick together.

We will not be silenced.

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