Re: On being Female in an Aikido Dojo
I'm glad things are working out for "Kai Lynn".
Brava, Ashley Hemsath, for everything you said. Dead on.
"Ayu," all the things you said sounded pretty positive, but then you said you were thinking about quitting. Are you having gender-related problems at your dojo?
I am lucky to be in a very balanced dojo. Not quite 50/50, but everyone trains together very well.
It's hard to know, when you are a beginner, how to take it when people are "too gentle" with you. I started at age 46, and was quite out of shape. Add age, fitness level, and being a newbie together, and you've got all kinds of good reasons for not training full out, and rightly so. I don't think any of what I experienced at first was due to being a woman. That said, there were a few people who didn't baby me at all, and I really enjoyed training with them. Now nobody babies me (yes, they train appropriate to my level, they don't try to kill me). :-)
The changing room thing is awkward. We usually have at least several women, and several men, in each class, so it's less like getting sent away by yourself after class is over. But there have been a few times I've been the only woman in class. I'm usually not even aware of that until I go to change. It is a lonely feeling. I've seen it go the other way, too, where there's only one guy in class, and he's off by himself afterward. One thing that helps that situation, and was the case in both our old location and the current one, is that the changing rooms are not accoustically isolated from each other. We can talk back and forth. It takes a little louder voice, but you can carry on a conversation somewhat, and hear what's being said. If I were designing a dojo, I'd be sure it worked this way. Maybe with just a couple of layers of fabric serving as a wall, or part of a wall. It's a minor thing, but it helps. In any case, the separation is not personal, whichever way it goes.