Re: Unhappy being pushed to test
Listen, I am a woman myself. In addition to being a relatively strong aikidoka I am also a sculptor and currently work as a welder and rigger with a team of men, so I am a woman who tends to put myself in typically "masculine" situations. I have about one thousand experiences a day that confirm that I am different from the men I surround myself with, not in ways that are deficient, but in ways that are different. I'm not a tiny man! I do think differently than my co-workers, and that is usually a good thing. It's a benefit to have someone on a jobsite who's thinking about how other people feel. It's a serious safety bonus to have a rigger who's been socialized to communicate very well. It's good for the morale of a team to have someone around who's just naturally touchier, or who remembers about families more. I solve problems differently than my colleagues, I tend to think more indirectly.
I empathize with RED's and others' assertions that she learned just fine from men, and that it bugs her when people treat her differently. I am in a similar situation, I tend to "learn like a man" myself. But you know, I think that aikido is fundamentally an act of communication, and when I get treated "like a girl" on the mat, it's my responsibility to communicate my training goals, desired level of intensity and so on. I can only do that if I am confident enough to just do that instead of whining about it or assuming that someone who looks at a tiny blonde woman and attacks softly is being a sexist. I have the skills and intensity on the mat to overcome this without having to label anyone.
I think this thread is about giving more women the opportunity to have as much skills and intensity as they want, and I think that's a good thing. I think the first step toward doing that is openly admitting that women are different than men, that they learn differently and are socialized, generally speaking, to value different things. It's not a deficiency that women tend to value safety! I use my need to be safe on the mat and on the job all the time--it's what makes me really good at lifting heavy things in crazy situations! It got me to work on my ukemi all by myself!
It is a drag that women tend to be socialized to look at themselves as innately this or that in a way that men aren't, and don't tell me that it doesn't happen because I still battle it every time I make a mistake at work, less on the mat for some reason. I think that an aikido class is a great place to get over that sense that you simply "are" any one thing.
I don't think that women who do aikido do aspiring women aikidoka a favor when they exclaim that they don't have that problem. It creates a dead end, in which the only logical conclusion is that it must not exist for others. I think that everyone has a responsibility to create as much opportunity for others as possible. It's impossible to do that when you're stuck on saying the problem doesn't exist. I think it's far more enlightened to organize the learning experience so that more people can get it. Who doesn't benefit from five minutes of rolls at the beginning of class?