Re: Starting an all-women's class
I think there's a fundamental point being overlooked. Any class -- whether a "women's class", or a "beginner's class", or a "parent-child class", or a "people over 50 class", or whatever -- cannot possibly be all things for all the people who fall under the broad category of its title. If we're sensible and sane, we acknowledge this, clearly articulate what we are trying to do with a class, don't make assumptions about what others may infer from the class's title, and don't try to burden any class with too many expectations. Is a women's class all about getting new women to try aikido? I don't know why that should be the default assumption, but whatever, if it is your purpose for a particular women's class, make that clear -- and then the people in the peanut gallery need to play fair and not try to shoot it down with a lot of objections about what it's not.
Anita, I disagree with your last statement. "We" don't need "more data". Those who are willing to do something need to be clear in their own minds about what it is they want to do, and then they need to do it -- ideally also persuading others to support them, but refusing to be dragged into a pointless debate by the inevitable knee-jerk cries of "But that's sexist!" Understand why you want to do what you want to do, and then do it. Convincing other people (particularly those who have a vested interest in preventing change) to get behind you and push is not the way to go.