Anne Marie Giri
My only knee jerk reaction to your post is that women in aikido are being compared to female gang members.
I have to point out that is not really a fair comparison, and I agree with Lauren that most people, women AND men, who join aikido are not looking to vent aggression.
Now...on to what I think is actually the point...
You know what, I do not think it's necessary to "figure out" the whole "women's issue." I run a women's aikido board and the biggest difference I have seen isn't really that big or huge or very profound. It's just that we like martial arts and aikido in particular and other women don't. I participate on other boards where women dominate - at home fitness and work out enthusiasts. They love to workout, train for marathons and could run circles around a lot of people. A small minority of us on that board actually practice a martial art. Those of us that do practice anywhere from MMA, judo, TKD, aikido, karate or kung fu.
The difference? The great majority of these women are simply not interested in practicing a full-fledged martial art. They'd rather do marathons and triathlons. That's it, really.
The sexism that women do face in aikido really is miniscule. It exists and should be acknowledged when it arises, but please let's keep it in perspective, too.
Now, to your question. You stated that our motivation is different and that our motivation is personal. I can see that in the sense that women, in general (note: not all women), tend to be more social. Therefore, we seek out friendships and sometimes our motivation to go to class might be based upon seeing our other friends. But, this is not always the case. I also disagree in that it's personal, based on my discussions with other women, is that our motivation to train is not all that different from men. We train for spirit forging and for learning self-defense. We think martial arts are cool. Some of want to teach or maybe even start our own dojos. We love the breakfall and to train hard like everyone else.
You see, we really are not that different. And when there are differences it's slight not huge. Differences need to be respected yet kept in perspective.
My suggestion is to just stop trying to figure women out and simply just accept us for who we are and treat us with respect -- which in my experience, the super-great majority of men do anyway. That's it really. No more, no less.
Yea, I'd agree, it was a knee jerk reaction.
Women are women no matter what they affiliate themselves with.
Gosh, I don't know why the strong focus on sexism all the time is about? I am a wimpy male, drat! I am left out in the dark.
And OK I am not the best at laying out my thought when starting threads. I need more practice, I'd be the first to admit it.
According to an expert on the knowledge on what motivates female gang members to be violent- could transfer to how women look at Aikido and other reasons. That is female gang members who do "work" it is because they need a personal issue to do so. Otherwise they aren't motivate to "work." Which got me thinking that sometimes when we look at an outside extreme it gives us insight to solving the problem that we face in Aikido a.k.a. finding the harmony.
Aikido is a martial art. We all know what martial means. Aikido has a fighting side, to defend yourself with martial application, and that is what is heavily practiced in the dojo. Allot of women in Aikido are hesitant to apply what they know when needed. It might be helpful to know that women need a personal issue to trigger their motivation to say defend themselves or become more intense in their training.
Being more intense does have many benefits physically as exercise, mentally as stress reduction, and spiritually learning more about that in Aikido. Then there, if desired, the ability to protect yourself. But, to practice Aikido absent of the martial art is not practicing Aikido to the fullest. I am not saying you have to be about fighting and use Aikido in a fight. But defending yourself is a part of Aikido. Aikido isn't about the art of Ukemi, for example.
There are many reasons why women get into Aikido, fighting isn't on the top of their list, why? Possibly because they don't have a personal issue or aware of one to put it at the top of their list. Understanding that is a great help I am sure.
Knowing women need a personal issue to fight might provide a better approach and understanding in womans training. It might reduce the issues men and women that some deal with in the dojo as reflected in so many threads about women in Aikido. It might help in the way to attract women to Aikido and make them feel more comfortable when it is understood what motivates women.
Women outside of Aikido look at Aikido as a martial art, and that means fighting. It doesn't mean dance lessons. Women new or outside of Aikido might not choose Aikido because they don't have a need, i.e. or a personal issue. They may or may not be consciously aware of this, and just may simply say they are not interested.
It may also help others students and sensei's who don't know what motivates women -including women I don't want to be targeted as a sexist- and are struggling in some way because of it.
I told of a time once when I with others where having a hard time attracting women to a class, and if I knew what I know now, I could have attracted more women and facilitated them better in Aikido. That is the positive angle I am working here. As much fun it is to be in the war of the roses, and keep those fires burning that is not what I am about. I am about finding solutions and this just might be a worth while solution when it comes to some of the issues in the dojo.
It seems to me very plausible that women have a motivation trigger that comes from having personal issue, which is far different then men. Maybe if in the dojo, if personal issues where to be examined it could be useful to increase motivation and long term retention of women in the dojo.