PDA

View Full Version : Sexual Harrassment and Chauvansim in the dojo


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


yankeechick
01-04-2010, 02:04 AM
Hi Guys,

A young lady asked this question of me. I ask the forum, for feedback.

What are some of the more effective methods (you've seen) used in the dojo, when young women come to train, but find themselves having to deal with unwanted sexual attention from the sensei and senior students, with whom she must interact during training?

1. Are there any legal venues?

I experienced it and when I rebuffed their advances, they tried to pull the "i'm the sempai" so you'll do what I say method to subjugate/objectify me while "showing" me how to perform techniques.

I have to tell you that it was quite a struggle. Evenutally, I left the dojo. It became too much.

I would love feed back to help this young lady handle this positively.

thanks!!

Melchizedek
01-04-2010, 06:28 AM
http://teenadvice.about.com/library/weekly/aa060102a.htm

lbb
01-04-2010, 07:23 AM
In the United States, most of the well-defined legal protections from unwanted sexual attention are specific to the workplace, and would not apply to the dojo. Outside of harassing behavior that takes place in the workplace (or outside the workplace but between individuals who have a workplace relationship), and within a voluntary association such as a dojo, I don't think there is much legal protection against harassment as such. If the harassing behavior is so extensive that it becomes a violation of another law (assault, for example), that's obviously a different matter.

If the sensei was one of the harassers, if he/she was confronted with his/her behavior and refused to change, and if the woman has already left the dojo, I'd say there's not much that can be done to repair that situation. It may be worth it, however, to look more closely into what the harassing behavior consisted of, and how the situation arose. In aikido, or similar activities, close physical contact isn't supposed to have a sexual connotation, and is not sexual harassment per se. With that said, there are people who can't let go of what close physical contact would mean outside the dojo, and who interpret aikido interactions through a sexualized lens. If your friend had the misfortune to run into a dojo where sensei and sempai are straight-up horn-dogs, I'd put it down to simple bad luck, and suggest that the best possible thing would be to tune her radar so she doesn't run into that situation again. It's also possible, however, that your friend perhaps made an error in interpreting behavior as harassing or sexual in nature when it was innocuous. Some people have boundaries that are pretty much incompatible with the kind of contact that takes place in normal aikido training, and if that's the case, aikido is not a good choice for them.

Edited to add: Araneta's reference to sexual harassment being (potentially) a violation of Title IX does not apply in this case, unless the dojo is part of an educational program that receives US federal funds (i.e., a school or university program).

Melchizedek
01-04-2010, 09:05 AM
Edited to add: Araneta's reference to sexual harassment being (potentially) a violation of Title IX does not apply in this case, unless the dojo is part of an educational program that receives US federal funds (i.e., a school or university program).

http://www.mettermartialarts.com/papers/sex.html

dps
01-04-2010, 09:33 AM
If your friend truly thinks it is sexual harassment and can find witnesses to back up her assertion ( if it is an ongoing thing then there are other women who have experienced the same thing) she can contact the city, township or county prosecutor and file a complaint with them. If the dojo is run as a business, complain to the Better Business Business or local consumer advocacy group. There is always the local media, ( newspaper, radio, tv. internet blogs ). Before she does any of these things she should be 100% sure with proof to back her up. If she can't prove her allegation she may find herself in legal trouble.

David

yankeechick
01-04-2010, 09:36 AM
@Melchizedek - thank you for the link. I read it and I will forward it to her.

@ llb - she went through some particulars with me. her radar is on point. I referred to it as sexual harrassment, because after she rejected the advances of the black belt and the sensei, the training environment for her changed. And the guys continue to ask her for dates, tell her she has to "choose" one of them, etc..All done in a "nice, friendly" way.

I happen to know the gentlemen, I used to train with them as well. I left because of their behaviour, but I thought it was unique to me. I didn't believe they would be that ridiculous on a continued basis.

She likes the others in the class. I will forward the info to her. To me it looks like she will have to leave, but I've noticed that the shihans in other major dojos do this as well (try to sleep with the female students).

So, I hoped for another option.

thanks guys!

Shadowfax
01-04-2010, 09:50 AM
Ugh... yeah tell her to look for another place to train. If the sensei is a problem then the dojo is a problem. The student's take their cue as to what is appropriate from him.

Thank goodness the guys in my dojo have so much more sense.

Keith Larman
01-04-2010, 10:14 AM
First off, the sensei and yudansha as described are crude, nasty, boorish and sad examples of human beings. That said people can be that way in most every context. As Mary pointed out legal recourse only comes about when things get into areas like the "right" to a work environment free of that sort of behavior or where it goes too far into sexual assault.

You can't have someone arrested/prosecuted/whatever for propositioning you if you're of legal age. Humans have this habit of hooking up, making love, making babies, getting married, having relationships, falling out of relationships, getting rejected, etc. Part of life. That has to happen somehow. I would agree that like most environments it would be really nice if people were more sensitive to these things. I really wish people were more upstanding in their behavior in life. However, not everyone is. It happens everywhere, unfortunately. That doesn't make it illegal, just unfortunate.

A workplace is a protected environment. So unless we're talking about someone who is an employee of the dojo being propositioned, well, they have no legal recourse. Nor should they IMHO. Of course the behavior is terrible. And just like any terrible behavior she has every right to walk out and never come back. But as long as she's not "forced" to be there or an employee, well, her legs work just fine. Leave.

I'm in no way condoning their behavior. Sounds like they need a strong whack to the head as human beings. They are creating an environment hostile to those they keep propositioning which is flat out stupid if you're trying to run a business. However, as the environment is strictly voluntary for her...

That said there are reasons why organizations may in fact have policies in place for their members. Many do have regulations on this very sort of behavior. So you might be able to lodge a protest with the group they're affiliated with (assuming they are).

lbb
01-04-2010, 10:50 AM
If your friend truly thinks it is sexual harassment and can find witnesses to back up her assertion ( if it is an ongoing thing then there are other women who have experienced the same thing) she can contact the city, township or county prosecutor and file a complaint with them.

I'm not sure what the basis for such a complaint would be. The only thing I can think of (barring criminal behavior such as assault) would be under civil rights legislation, using the argument that the behavior has the effect of denying women (not just her) the use of a public accommodation. Was that what you were thinking of, or were you thinking of something else?

lbb
01-04-2010, 10:54 AM
@ llb - she went through some particulars with me. her radar is on point. I referred to it as sexual harrassment, because after she rejected the advances of the black belt and the sensei, the training environment for her changed. And the guys continue to ask her for dates, tell her she has to "choose" one of them, etc..All done in a "nice, friendly" way.

That sounds like sexual harassment, but unfortunately, it's not illegal. Keith's suggestion of researching any association code of conduct is a good idea and may help to reform that dojo, but it will probably not make things there better for her -- the whistle-blower seldom finds a warm welcome.

Keith Larman
01-04-2010, 11:09 AM
It is unfortunate for sure, but behaving badly isn't necessarily illegal (nor should it be IMO). The lines get blurry, of course, but it is difficult at best to legislate morality or behavior.

Stupid, sad, unfortunate, reprehensible -- yes. But not illegal.

Check out the affiliation and see if there is a code of conduct clause. Give them a copy with the section highlighted.

C. David Henderson
01-04-2010, 11:10 AM
I think Mary and Keith are spot-on. Sounds like a bad situation.

yankeechick
01-04-2010, 11:30 AM
@ Mary - I am looking for some behaviour modification techniques that would get these two horn dogs to leave the women in the dojo alone, so folks can train peacefully. And yep, you are right whistle blowers and those who make noise are usually isolated and excluded in a hostile way..in many arenas in life..

@Keith - I suggested to her that she write a general note to the "home" office.

I've suggested that she try the dojo I train in now. It's just that as an adult, I know these things can happen. So I thought there may be another way to handle these things, so that she can get some peace of mind.

Kinda like using a mental aikido technique to get out of the way and re-direct their attention and everyone can go on about their business; so to speak...

James Davis
01-04-2010, 12:34 PM
There's very little chance that anything she does will change their behavior. As cruddy as it sounds, the solution is for her leave that dojo. Her hard-earned money should go to a sensei who will treat her with respect.

Aikibu
01-04-2010, 02:07 PM
Ugh... yeah tell her to look for another place to train. If the sensei is a problem then the dojo is a problem. The student's take their cue as to what is appropriate from him.

Thank goodness the guys in my dojo have so much more sense.

Word.... The Sensei sets the example.. She would be better off somewhere else...

William Hazen

Lorien Lowe
01-18-2010, 09:27 PM
I agree with everyone that she should leave, but I'd also suggest that she write a letter to the sensei after she's gone, explaining that she's taken her money to another dojo and detailing exactly why.

There's a chance, even in this day and age, that the sensei and sempai are simply clueless. One letter won't fix that, but it might be a crack in their cranial doors for the next female student who comes along.