Thread: Equitable?
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Old 03-02-2005, 06:44 PM   #66
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509
Re: Equitable? Long)

Equitability? (long ...)

Mary Eastland said:
>just checked out the list of instructors for the Aiki Expo. There were 35 and only 2 of >them were women. 2!!!!!!!. Just had to get that off my chest.

And several folks responded.

Some random comments from me about that:

Pauliina Lievonen asked:
>Well, how about inviting more women to teach at big seminars such as the Aiki Expo?

(Waves at Pauliina)
Well, sound on the surface like a good idea. Aside from Stanley, does anyone here know who was invited, who declined, who had prior commitment, etc?

I was involved in the organization and execution of most of the aikido-l seminars ( and can relate to Mary's question. In fact, it was asked of us (aikido-l sem organizers) more than once. The answer was almost always either: No women made themselves available to teach; or: The women we invited to teach declined for various reasons. Same answers to question about why we invited/didn't invite someone from XYZ organization.

Also consider the number of senior instructors who are female opposed to those who are male. Anybody have any statistics on what the range is? MAYBE, just maybe, the 2 out of whatever IS, indeed reflective of the gender dispersion amongst senior aikido teachers.

Mike Sigman said:
>How about simply inviting the best available teachers, regardless of gender? What does
>gender have to do with good Aikido?

Wow. Whatta concept. Umm ... nah, wouldn't work. It doesn't seem to favor anyone. No wait, it DOES favor someone! The Japanese male senior aikido teacher population! No, wait ... that's a minority ... DOH! I'm confused now. Fortunately, that's familiar territory.

(Winks at Mike)

Mary Eastland said:
>I think there are a lot of great women Aikido teachers.

Probably. How many of them are in the range that Stanley is seeking to fill the bill at the expo? Quick count, I can name about a handful of fairly senior female teachers. There are probably a good many more coming up through the ranks, but what were Stanley's criteria for selecting instructors for the expo? I have no clue, but I suspect he's looking for folks with fairly extensive experience, senior-ranked, recognized expertise ...

Yes, budo is male-dominated. Mainly because it's mostly men who DO budo.

Why don't more women do budo? No clue. I do know that my dojo has always been woman-friendly, and often our student population was close to or more than 50 percent female.

What did I do to attract more women than the average? Nothing. I teach without regard to gender, have had (and still do) a woman as my assistant (she's teaching classes while I'm in the US for a month).

My experience has been a bit out of the norm, but I ain't complaining. Women in the dojo is a good thing.

However, if a women was interested in what I have to teach solely because there were several women in the dojo, or WASN'T interested in training with me because there were FEW women in my dojo, then I suspect I wouldn't want her in my dojo anyway. Same-same for men. I don't care what the gender-balance is on my mat, I care about having students with whom I can continue the flow from my teachers to them. Nothing else -- let me reiterate this: NOTHING else matters. Not gender, not race, not religion, not number of limbs, not any. thing. else.

I don't care if I have women in my class or not. Nor would I care one whit if I had all women (a situation that has occurred in the past, BTW).

I only care about transmitting the art. I suspect Stanley is thinking along the same lines, but he can speak for himself on that.

I've asked my wife to chime in on this thread as well. She's got strong opinions on the subject, not necessarily the same as mine.

Mary also said:
>But how will Aikido ever really become the art it is supposed to be if the "system"
>does not recognize what is lacking and work to fix it?

Who says it's not? Why isn't it? Who said it's supposed to be something different than exactly what it is?

>Without men helping to make women be more equal in Aikido it is going to take hundreds of years.

I cannot disagree with this more. If women want to do aikido- or any budo - more power to them. It's not my job to make sure they come into the dojo, watch, decide to join, show up regularly, work through the system, aspire to and learn to teach, take wing and fly to their own dojo with a loyal following of other women. Not my job.

My job is simple: transmit the art. I don't even accept men with whom I don't think I can share that mission.

Mike Sigman asked:

>What does gender have to do with good Aikido?

IMNSHO: Nothing.

Mal Smith said:
>"what happened to the harmony" but to me harmony is balance and there is no balance in
>a room that has 33 male instructors and only 2 female.

Why? Would you rather see a balanced card of 15 seniors and 15 juniors who were selected not because of their skill, years of experience and creditability, but because they filled a quota?

Pauliina Lievonen said:
>Let's make a little thought experiment: Let's pretend there actually are excellent female instructors

Great exercise in wishful thinking. How does it relate to reality? How many female shihans are there in the aikido world?

It's not unreasonable to say that the budo world is heavily slanted towards males. Why? Well, at one time, it was because budo was a man's club. Nowadays, especially in the west, that's not necessarily the unwavering truth it once was.

More women than ever before are pursuing budo (and many more are doing 'budo light' in some form (Tae Bo anyone) or another. In 20 years, what will the gender distribution be in the senior ranks? No clue. But I would posit from personal experience of being involved in budo for 30+ years that there WILL be more women doing budo and more women in senior positions then than there are now -- just as there are far more now than there were 20 years ago and WAY more than 50 years ago and ... you get the idea.

>there are only a couple female instructors invited

We don't know that. We don't know how many were -invited- ... we only know that only two accepted, could make the commitment, etc.

Anne Marie Giri said:
>... main point was that we need to support women instructors, go to their seminars and invite them to seminars?

Cool. I'm all for that. However, it doesn't address the issue here. The issue could be boiled down to this: "It's my dojo/clinic/seminar, I'll invite any teacher I feel can provide the instruction and environment I want to cultivate."

Mary apparently feels that the choices were made to deliberately or through omission exclude women. I say, if the instruction offered is good, it doesn't matter whether the teacher is male or female.

If a woman wants to do more to support women in budo, then she will, IMHO, attend the seminar regardless of who's teacher, learn what she can, incorporate it, keep moving forward and someday, when offered the chance, step up to teach herownself.

That's all I see here.

> Women instructors are not seen as skilled.

By whom? I don't see things that way. Nor do I care whether a good teacher is male of female. However, I have been in seminars taught by women that I wish I'd never paid money for (men, too), and I've had women as guests in my dojo who simply amazed me -- but NOT because they were women, but because their budo was excellent. Period.

George S. Ledyard said:
>Of course gender matters

Sorry George. I disagree (not the first time ... I know). Gender does NOT matter in budo. What maters is the transmission of the art. Period. All else is gravy.

>...impressed me no end by not only conducting professional level demos and classes but
>by being willing to get on the mat and try out the classes of the various other
>teachers. I would like to see more women instructors willing to participate like that.

With THIS, I couldn't agree more. You've hit the nail on the head.

OK, this has been beaten to death time and again. Ya'll can go back to bickering and whining if that suits ya. Me, I'm gonna keep doing what I do, regardless of the gender of those involved.



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