I have been following Simona Roller, an ex-Montrealer, for a while now. I loved seeing how passionate of a stance she took when it came to defending feminism. It's interesting, especially considering the fact that Simona is a professional pole dancer. Very often, people assume that being a feminist and a professional pole dancer are two mutually exclusive concepts. Turns out they're not. I just knew I had to interview this fascinating lady, pick her brain and then share the results with our readers.
What is feminism to you?
Feminism is a blessing and an absolute necessity. To put it shortly, feminism to me means giving women the freedom and respect they deserve as human beings. You might think that’s common sense - unfortunately in this world we lack a lot of that.
Women should have every right and freedom to do as they please with their bodies, their lifestyle or career choices etc. Just as men have always done… Women shouldn’t need to ask for permission. Women should have the right to live in safety instead of a constant state of fear and caution. This is the reality we live in, even in countries where we “have it good”. Feminism is about choice and safety.
What made you take such a strong feminist stance? Was there a specific event that triggered it?
I think every single part of me was meant to end up very passionate about feminism.
Moving from a village in Romania to Montreal at the verge of my teenage years brought a lot of hardship on my family and there was definitely a cultural shock.
I was bullied in school for looking older or wearing tight jeans which apparently made me a “slut” at the age of 12. I rebelled. I felt it was unfair that people were so mean to me, and that ignited a deep fascination with the lives of women that are called “sluts”: strippers, porn stars, sexy pop stars, sex workers, etc. I wanted to know who they were as human beings, and why people were so fucking mean to them… Bullying didn’t “mess me up”. It made me think, and open my eyes.
That brought me to reading about the history of sexuality and women’s issues throughout the world, different cultures and religions. I learned appalling things. I learned about the fight women fought to gain us the rights for voting, working, access to contraception and abortion etc. This is still very recent - if we’re lucky to live in good countries, and there is still work to do...
In some countries, young girls are still married against their will. Some girls are sold by their parents for a cow. Many have no access to education and no right to opinions. Many are killed at birth for being female. Many have disfigured faces from acid attacks by men they rejected… Many are raped and violently killed by men every day. Many are victims of genital mutilation… I could go on forever. The world is absolutely NOT treating women with respect. Women are being treated as inferior, sinful & as a property.
What do you have to say to people who think that pole dancing is objectifying women?
Pole dancing doesn’t objectify women. Being sexual or having sex does not objectify women. People objectify women. Men objectify women. When they look at a sexy pole dancer and they only see the physical and sexual part of them. The pole dancer might display beautiful and impressive moves that have taken years of dedication to achieve, and someone might only perceive the size of her boobs, the perkiness of her ass, the way that flexibility would look like naked.
They don’t think of all else there might be to this human: How’s her sense of humour? How hard has she trained for pole dancing? Has she ever been in love? What are her ambitions? Would we get along well? No. Some men will look at her and only perceive all the ways he could get his dick inside her.
That is objectification. And it happens whether you pole dance or not, whether you are “sexy” or not. Not all pole dancing is sexy nowadays, as it's very versatile. It is however the style I love and am proud of it.
Can a feminist be feminine?
Of course! A feminist can be whatever the hell she wants, that’s the point. A feminist can wear what she wants because she can choose.
Does making a sandwich for your husband or getting a manicure make you any less of a feminist?
Not at all. I personally love having nice nails and a fresh hairstyle. I also cook sometimes for my husband but out of pleasure, not because it’s my duty. We also like to eat out and sometimes he even makes tacos for me! Haha.
How do you react to chivalrous gestures from men, such as someone holding a door open for you?
I enjoy it when someone does these gestures. Sometimes I do them for others. It doesn’t impress me though - It’s just nice and polite, that’s how I see it.
How do you react to sexist jokes?
I usually do a fake “not funny” laugh and then express why it’s a bullshit joke and it’s not funny.
What do you think of people who are against feminism? For example, there are stay-at-home mothers who are totally comfortable with being dependent on their husbands and taking care of their family.
I think people who are against feminism either are very uninformed, or they hate women, or they think it’s cool to be anti-feminism… (It’s NOT). If a woman wants to stay at home and be a housewife, if it makes her happy and she is respected, then what’s the problem? That’s as valid a choice as the women who choose to never have children and pursue a career… maybe pole dancing? Whatever you choose!
What do you think of gender roles? Do you ask your husband to help you with the “manly” tasks around the house, like assembling an Ikea furniture piece for example?
I like some flexibility and fairness with gender roles. I love it when my husband can fix whatever’s broken, when he carries my big heavy bags - but I also LOVE it when he helps me with the dishes, the laundry, cooking and so on. And I love helping him with other things. We can help each other with little things every day depending on what we’re each able to do. Like two equal human beings in a relationship.
Would you let your daughter be a professional pole dancer and post explicit photos online?
Let’s just say that if I do have a daughter one day, she will most likely do some things that I would not “let her”. We don’t own our children - however I can only imagine how much I will want my child to be safe and happy. That’s all: safe and happy.
I think that to be a professional pole dancer you need to be a strong woman, and I absolutely would want my daughter to be a strong woman. A woman with character who can stand up for herself and follow her idea of a happy life. Whether she is a pole dancer, a doctor, a housewife or anything else… does she feel true to herself? If yes, fuck the haters.