Perhaps I am that freak who really believes in freedom of thought and expression. Perhaps I believe in the gentle empathy and compassion of blending-with rather than resisting.
Perhaps an individual has a right to train with whomever they feel comfortable with based on whatever criteria. Forcing them to violated their belief system seems rather un-Aikido-ish. Perhaps with time and mindful compassion, they will change that view. Either way, its their belief and its about them. I have people I tend not to train with. Don't you?
If an instructor chooses in their own school to honor (or not honor) a student's request is their choice and shows their perspective. Its about the instructor.
If another person chooses to take offense/degraded because some one has a different belief, or some one chooses to honor/respect that belief/request - then that's about them, not the other person's belief system.
We all tend to want freedom of belief and expression/choice for what we believe/agree-with. Doesn't that also extend to the beliefs and expression of others, even if we do not agree with them?
If a student feels uncomfortable for any reason being touched by (or touching) another student, I would tend to respect what that student is telling me about themselves even if I do not personally agree with that perspective and position. It may about their fear and ignorance (or traumatic history). I do not expect people to come in with the empathy and compassion (in all three directions in this scenario) that I hope they will leave with.
This may be an unpopular and politically-incorrect stance, but hey, I am that freak who believes in freedom of belief and expression even if its different from my own.
Any thoughts anyone?
So they start a men's class. And, tout suite, a women's class. Taught by a qualified female aikidoka already in the dojo. There is one, isn't there? Hmm. Maybe a men's dojo and a women's dojo? But wait, why dont we map separation to race? Economics? All social differences all at once? Free private lessons only and for all, with the sensei, and sensei better fit the individual student's mapping. That's going to take a lot of senseis.
Or, muslim dude gets to train in class as much as he can under his own value structure, no other changes to the class. He doesn't have to bow. So what, it is a typically misappropriated social gesture anyway. You dont bow, I dont care. He does not have to train with a woman. He can manage his own ma-ai, his own focus, isn't that what martial training is about? If something happens, he takes a bath or whatever he needs to do to get the cooties off. That's fine and great. But now the mat becomes boy side and girl side. Well, okay. And, the next class, he distributes tracts advocating violence toward women. So? They're just words. Today. As far as you know.
That sort of freedom is a broad multi-laned highway. First (and every) radical dyke through the door gets to bring a copy of the SCUM Manifesto for everyone in class. Better respect her beliefs and read that. Dont bitch when the guys in class start getting cut up, shot, bumped off. She is just admirably exercising the courage of her convictions. Identity christian? Let him holler RAHOWA instead of osu or onegaishimasu. He's passing out the Turner Diaries. He's a brave believer when he uses jujishime to break Goldstein's arm.
Where is YOUR line on violence? Where is the line for the sensei involved? Where is my line on violence? Should they be the same line?