Christopher Li wrote:
There is no binary delineation - the prohibitions against physical contact in Judaism and Islam apply equally to both men and women. For that matter, Morihei Ueshiba endorsed binary delineations such as different standards of dress (ie, the hakama) for men and women, so the "oneness" argument seems, to me, not to hold too much water.
Well, like I said, it depends upon how one wants to define "oneness" and "unification."
The binary delineation is not between what men can do and what women cannot, or vice versa. The binary delineation is what men can do with men but cannot do with women; what women can do with women but not with men.
Under certain understandings of "oneness" and "unification," the idea that touch should be delineated universally according to gender lines (because of a theory on sexuality that understands sex one way and not another) could be seen as divisive and not as unifying. In simple language, it is matter of being able to say, "Hey, if you do not start getting all sexed up when you touch your own gender, please continue that same level of behavior with me as well." In another way, from some views of oneness, such a request is a call to be seen beyond one's gender and definitely beyond one's sexuality (to bare witness to the eternal One of which one is a part of, etc. - that kind of thing).
In other words, it seems to me, if you have a dojo that professes a certain notion of unification/oneness, then you might very well not be the place for someone to maintain strong gender distinctions - particularly those that are related to heterosexuality. Moving toward strong gender delineations might very well be moving in the opposite direction of what you are seeking to accomplish spiritually. At a technical level, this would be no different from someone showing up and asking, "Yeah, I was wondering if I could train here, but I'm into boxing, so I'd like to wear these gloves here and jab at you every time you come in instead of doing that ikkyo thing." If you are a dojo where everyone trains with everyone, and if that practice is part of your spiritual cultivations, then that has to be respected - by both parties involved - in my opinion.
Again, if one just does techniques at their dojo, as this person may very well want to as well, then none of this is an issue - no more than someone saying, "Hey, I don't like training with that person, so I'm not going to train with them anymore." I have never been in a dojo where I have not seen that happen, and thus the formation of some "clicks," etc. In my experience, ours is the only dojo where that kind of behavior (click formation, avoiding a training partner, etc.) is seen as going against the spiritual training we are trying to practice. In our place, that kind of attitude (just mentioned above) is unacceptable and folks are expected to reconcile both the obvious grudge and the underlying supports that we see as being related to fear, pride, and ignorance.
On a different topic - Chris, I was under the impression that Osensei had everyone wear their hakama (that's what I always heard) - had no idea he had his male students not wearing them. Where did you hear about that one? (if you don't mind sharing)