Thread: Equitable?
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Old 03-06-2005, 12:31 PM   #143
Dojo: Sand Drift Aikikai, Cocoa Florida
Location: Melbourne, Florida
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 824
Re: Equitable?

Mark Johnston wrote:
It's borderline trolling and I am getting a bit sick of his know-it-all, sarcastic and in fact chauvinistic attitude which I can assure you is not representative of males in this thread or indeed AikiWeb in general.
Mark, thank you for speaking up. Of course , I don't think most men are like this who can so easily and blantanly dismiss a woman's point of view, especially when we are talking about "women's issues". Most of the men I train with are pretty damn cool and I'll continue training with them. Those of you who are cool, I value more than you can believe. And, it's you who are welcoming and non-intimidating on the mat, and will always be appreciated.

Emily stated:
Here is what I was going on about:
I am actually pretty torqued off that despite my continual attempts to discuss the disparities, inequalities, and treatment of women in aikido particularly, no one bothers to talk much about it unless someone like George L brings it up. I mean, WTF? Why is it ignored unless someone with status brings it up????
Thanks for the clarification. If I sounded upset, well, it's because that I'm rather appalled about the blatant sexism and righteousness that has been demonstrated by a few on this thread.

Actually, I've noticed that when I strongly voice my opinions and comments that I don't get ignored but rather get labeled a "reactionary victim" and therefore what I say is meaningless. But if was more middle of the road, then, yes, my opinions would have been ignored. It's sad that in this day and age, and in the U.S. that a veiw can be held that a man's opinions will mean more than any woman -- even when it is directly related to a woman's experience in aikido. That gets a "WTF?" in my book.

Emily wrote--
Taking things personally, or going anywhere near ad hominem level, is the end of intelligent and fruitful discussion.
You're so very right. It's time to tenkan and take the discussion elsewhere.

What I do agree with is that the whole "gender issue" gets blown out of proportion. I mentioned before, that it's not really a hugh issue for me and it's just one extra thing I have deal with among many. I do my own part to help newbies, and when the rare woman steps into the dojo breaching cultural barriers I do what I can to help her feel welcomed and supported. I'm just as supportive to new guys, but I've noticed that most of them could careless about receiving nurturing support. However, men are not breaching cultural barriers by starting a martial art. That's is acceptable for men to do. It has not been for women. (However as society continues to evolve and women get more involved in sports and even contact sports like boxing and even hockey and football then I think we'll see more women walking into a dojo.) It's unfortunate that some of the posters here don't get that, and I think it's very possible for a man to understand that even if he is not a woman. Men face the same kind of barriers when entering the fields of nursing, teaching, and as "at-home-caregivers" (stay at home dads) or any other field dominated by women. They deserve the same support as well in such fields.

The women I admire most include Penny Bernath and Lorraine DiAnne to just name a couple. I believe they both have faced problems related to their gender but on the whole that it's not really a big issue. I agree. It's not a big issue, but it does come into play when someone doesn't want to throw me hard because of my gender or they try to hit on me in some obnoxious way. But I'm fortunate to train in a positive environment for all people, regardless of gender. I'm fortunate to know I can go to my sensei and ask for his advice, and I'm fortunate to have higher ranking women in the dojo. However, some women don't have this in their dojos. For me, seeing a higher ranking woman on the mat isn't really about rectifing gender disparaties, but just having the comfort of knowing another women as walked this path before me. That's it really.

In regard to apparent gender disparities, I also agree that they will be rectified in time. I'm an attorney, twenty to thirty years ago it was really rare that a woman would go to law school. Now, close to half of those enrolled in law school are women, but we are still not half of those as partners in law firms. However, slowly we are breaking barriers and moving up the ranks, so to speak. Some women started their own lawfirms, other will stay within. Eventually, there will no longer be a glass ceiling.

I see aikido as the same. At the last USAF--Winter Camp, I would harbor to guess that I saw about 35-40% women on the mat at any given time. Of course those teaching where not women, but rather our shihan (Yamada, Shibata, Sugano), however, there are quite a few women within our organization who are 6th and 5th dan, which is high-ranking for us. The Women In Aikido videos was a great way to recognize some of these women's accomplishments. The USAF has more than 10 high ranking women than what was presented in the video. They were just ten among the high ranking women in our organization. Lorraine DiAnne, a shihan now, gives regular seminars as often as Peter Bernath, Donovan Waite, Clyde Takeguchi, Claude Berthiaume or Harvey Konisberg. Penny would give more but she is the head of Early Child Development Department at a local university, but she still gives a couple of seminars a year. Also, I know she is now a member of the USAF Board of Governors.

Times change and organizations change, we have to give it time I agree, but it won't change if we don't sometimes rock the boat a little or stir the pot to keep it from burning the food.

Anne Marie Giri
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