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Old 03-15-2005, 09:00 AM   #226
sunny liberti
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Sunny has a chip on her shoulder, obviously, and refuses to address the fact that in most dojo's everything is at an acceptable level. She just whines and bickers about the injustice of it all.
Quoi?

Are you actually *reading* these posts?

Nevermind, don't bother to answer. I don't actually care. Besides, it's abundantly clear to everyone here that you intentionally misinterpret anything you can in order to incite and inflame. You are not worth any further effort. Good luck in your training efforts.

And yes, Rob explained my point better than I did... Thank you!

Sunny

A brave man dies once; cowards are always dying." --Moanahonga, Ioway
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Old 03-15-2005, 09:38 AM   #227
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Mike, here are facts. You have contributed more substantive how-to's (valid one's, at that) about real Ki and Kokyu than any other person I have seen. I do sincerely thank you for that, yet again. My point is that even if I am too thick-headed to get it,
1) this is a forum, and other less thick headed people might get it AND continue to help me get it
2) it seems to me that it would have been a better usage of your time, as I'm actually trying to understand your thoughts about ki and kokyu, as opposed to spending your time instead trying to convince people about your opinions on rape for amusement purposes.

Rob
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Old 03-15-2005, 12:54 PM   #228
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
it seems to me that it would have been a better usage of your time, as I'm actually trying to understand your thoughts about ki and kokyu, as opposed to spending your time instead trying to convince people about your opinions on rape for amusement purposes.
"Amusement"? I dislike passive-aggressive behavior, Rob. That got me into the discussion. How did we continue on, once more, with a discussion about me, BTW? I thought you were going to deal with Aikido and skip the personalities?

Mike
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Old 03-15-2005, 02:16 PM   #229
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Passive-aggressive? My behavior has been nothing short of active-assertive.

I stated "for amusement purposes" because you wrote:

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote:
I actually have had some pretty hilarious support on the side.
But yes, continuing on with aikido... One way to encourage more females in the dojo is to not derail their discussions about how to make things better for them.

Hugs,
Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 03-15-2005 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 03-16-2005, 02:32 AM   #230
wendyrowe
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Re: Equitable?

The meat of the discussion in this thread has been very interesting, and makes me wonder whether I'm a) living in the right state, b) oblivious, or c) just really lucky: so far, I don't think I've run into any sort of gender bias or harrassment of any sort in any of the four dojos -- aikido, karate, jujitsu -- I've trained in or several I've visited. (Well, since visits last just a day or two, it might be harder to notice something subtle there.) I would certainly notice if someone was touching me inappropriately, so I know that hasn't happened. My two main dojos (aikido and karate) both make me feel very comfortable and don't treat women any differently than men. Same goes for the karate/taiji dojo I go to fairly often.

I probably have a pretty thick skin, since I'm an electrical engineer from the era 20 years ago when the male:female ratio in the field was worse than 10:1. But it's not THAT thick -- small slights from casual encounters I can ignore, but if I faced it regularly from dojo mates I'm sure I'd notice it. I have definitely seen and recognized bias and harrassment in "real life," so I know it exists and it makes sense that it would be in some dojos, too. I'm guessing it must be the tone set by the sensei: if he treats women the same as everyone else, others are more likely to; and if someone is out of line, a good sensei (meaning observant and right-thinking) would correct or remove that person. I never witnessed such a correction/removal in the dojos where I train, but it might have happened while I wasn't there.

As for makeup of the dojo, it's true that having women in it makes it easier for other women to feel comfortable joining. I'm glad to be doing my part to help the ratio. In karate, I coach the kids' classes (which are about 50-50; even the teen classes are close to that) and it's obvious that the girls identify with me -- the male teachers are great and the girls learn just fine from them, but it always helps to have a role model.

But much as I want women in the dojos and teaching at seminars, I would hate any sort of reverse discrimination -- this goes for the martial arts world as well as the engineering world, and in fact all aspects of my life. I would HATE not knowing whether I got a promotion/position because I was good enough or because I was filling someone's quota. I want all the males to know that I got where I am because I'm as good as they are. I've definitely felt at times in the engineering world (college and jobs) that some of my male colleagues are sizing me up deciding whether I was a quota-filler or not, and if I hadn't been very sure of myself it would have made me feel awful to face that doubt.
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Old 03-16-2005, 07:16 AM   #231
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Hi Wendy. I did the Engineering thing too and I totally agree with you!

I don't think the quota filler thing happens too often in aikido. Although, I have seen the teacher's wife/girlfriend get promoted without ever really having anyone really challenge them to the level that other people of that rank were challenged in class. (I think that can be said about the current Doshu to some degree. I mean no disrespect, but honestly, some people are put up on a pedastol whethere they want to be there or not. It is unfortunate for them really.)

From a dojo's perspective, the choice of how you approach learning/teaching aikido is major factor to attracting women (and of course men). Generally, the white belt people are expected to do crude approximations of the waza where turning up the intesity results in yanking and cranking people around AND all challenges to poor technique are met with semi-controlled atemi. Conversely, there are also many teaching approaches where the people are very safe but they never/rarely take it up a notch as far as intensity and drama. I'd imagine that it would be hard for new females (and males for that matter) to have the faith in such aikido to work in a more stressful situation. So, I think that the main issue from a dojo's perspective is that you have to develop everyone towards using incredibly soft yet powerful technique such that everyone can work out as hard as their common denominator of ability allows. The result of getting someone to the ground _at any cost_ needs to be disallowed until a rank that can handle that kind of thing safely - like sandan+.

As far as society contributors, the main thing I can relate to as far as new women to the dojo are concerned is that every class is kind of like the Sadee Hawkings dance for a new female student. This is because most junuior members of the dojo are expected to seek out the seniors for help. In a dojo that is predominately male, that is just not what society has told them is normal.

Also when a senior male tries to continue working out with a new female student or just gives her any encouragement, I have noticed through the years that that genuine *martial* interest or interest in helping the dojo prosper with new students is almost always misinterpretted as sexual interest. Who can blame the new female students. They probably have been hit on by guys since they were 13 or so. Also, there are guys in dojos who do hit on every female that walks in the door. That one is difficult to to deal with as the teacher. In one case, who the heck am I to tell people not to date, but in the other case, the dojo is a safe place where you should not have to worry about that. And, that kind of thing would never happen while I was in ear shot, so I wouldn't know.

I actually had a weird backlash problem with this once. At one point in my training, I joined a dojo that had several female students who were senior to me. I asked some seniors to work with me after class and I got the same feeling from them you get when you ask someone out who is clearly not interested. I picked up on that pretty quickly and stoped asking that person. It took me a while to see that just the female seniors where like that with me - but it was most of them. I really wasn't trying to date them, and I didn't know how to fix the problem, so I didn't ask them to work out with me after class. I thought I might win them over by training with good energy and commitment but it always seemed they just barely tolorated me. That was a bit creepy and weird. Althought, I never had that experience in any other dojo - I imagine this is a manifestation of the the kind of creepy stuff that goes on below the surface level. I don't know how to make things better because it seems like it takes trust in open and honest communication that people might just not have when they first walk in the door.

Rob
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Old 03-16-2005, 07:44 AM   #232
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

Hi Wendy,

As an African-American, I can definately identify with your post. I've had people in business situations bring what you mention up right to my face. Personally, I think what Mike was saying kind of fits with this...That might be part of why he reacted as he did; if the attitude around the endeavor (what ever it may be) is about skill, then no one wonders about these other things. If the attitude is about more general attempts at gender norming, or race norming, or what ever other social engineering you might have in mind, then people will always wonder what the heck is really going on. And I should add that that doubt cuts both ways...I wasted a bit of time myself with that.

All I can say is...how ever anyone gets the job, the slot at the expo, whatever...make the most of the opportunities that come your way. Do your very best. That's the only way to remove doubt once it creeps in. I'm sure that the two women performing at the expo will leave no doubt in anyone's mind.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-16-2005, 07:48 AM   #233
Mike Sigman
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Wendy Rowe wrote:
The meat of the discussion in this thread has been very interesting, and makes me wonder whether I'm a) living in the right state, b) oblivious, or c) just really lucky: so far, I don't think I've run into any sort of gender bias or harrassment of any sort in any of the four dojos -- aikido, karate, jujitsu -- I've trained in or several I've visited.
Sounds like you're probably just competent and don't have a chip on your shoulder. Nice post. We ALL run into various "discriminations" occasionally in life.... if that's the way we want to look at it.

FWIW

Mike
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Old 03-16-2005, 10:09 AM   #234
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Equitable?

I didn't read through the entire thread, so forgive me if I'm echoing someone else's sentiments. This issue with female instructors may be beyond the typical guy's ability to understand- Having been married for almost twenty years, I only grasp that there are a few things I don't grasp.

If you think about this in terms of doctors, many women prefer to see a female doctor, with somewhat less regard to the respective skill levels.

Without personally having a preference for male or female teachers, I do understand that it might be important to a female student because some of the differences in perspective and instruction would be more relevant to women.

I feel very fortunate to have an awesome and amazing female Sensei and excellent male Shihan at my dojo. I receive very different perspectives on identical techniques from my different teachers and I am sure that we all do better Aikido as a result.

Rather than imagining that the ratio of teachers is skewed by some conspiracy, my belief is that where most men rise to the top of their field by dominating it, this dominance is not a characteristic of women unless they are highly inspired. IMHO, this makes Aikido a natural match for many women, but I'm not surprised to see that most of the thousands of female Aikidoka are content to practice individually, rather than being motivated to influence the art at large.

Remember- this is all "IMHO"!

Last edited by Bill Danosky : 03-16-2005 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 03-16-2005, 11:33 AM   #235
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

It seems both Sunny while logged into my account from home and I while logged into my account elsewhere agree that you made excellent points, Bill!

I was thinking more about wendy's post, and it occurs to me that engineers always seem to want more of a meritocracy. I think the issue for the teacher is to make sure we make it clear that merit in training while not yanking people around - especially new people - has more merit than say bringing the person to the ground at any cost.

How to we communicate that to the dojo in the most effective way?

Interesting point of view Ron, do you have trouble attacting african americans to your dojo?

Rob

Last edited by rob_liberti : 03-16-2005 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:33 PM   #236
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Equitable?

Well, in one dojo I trained at regularly there were about 3 of us in 8 years or so, two of us stuck.

In another dojo, it is fed from Temple University in North Phila. (the instructor teaches Aikido for the university and is on staff there), so there is a good source of African American students there. Also, when this instructor first started some 30 years ago, he didn't have the dojo he has now...and it certainly wasn't in the same type of neighborhood...

I don't believe either instructor made or makes a point of 'recruiting' African Americans. Because of the demographics where the dojo is located, you see a good mix of people...some male, some female, some black, some white, some yellow (more or less on the colors). The point is, everyone gets treated the same...there isn't one test for me and another for someone else based on race. I guess gender can be a little trickier with testing...but I know the 3rd dan who is a woman is tough as nails, and has very soft feeling but effective technique. I don't feel like she is doing a poor women's imitation of men doing aikido...she is quite outstanding in her own right.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 03-16-2005, 12:49 PM   #237
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Equitable?

Wow....just a little rant brought about a long and varied thread.

I have been thinking about this thread for a while. It seems that this thread just like in the dojo is a microcosm of the bigger picture. I think some people judge everyone's circumstances through the filter of their own experience. And I am more than a little surprised by some of the nasties.

My point about men helping women in Aikido was not about having women being promoted because they are women. I think we all agreed that there is a patriarchal structure in Aikido. So maybe like how people who were free helped abolish slavery ; a good example of what I am trying to say would be how African Americans in the United States needed to be free. If they had to wait until they could free themselves it would have taken a very long time. But people who knew that slavery was wrong helped and so slavery was abolished sooner than it would have been if they hadn't have helped.

So my thought is that women could use some help.........I have plenty of help in my dojo. When I started training my children were small and they were welcome to play away from the mat. Now that they are grown I still remember what it was like to need to train with small children. So our dojo is supportive to parents with children.

We don't focus on just the young, athletic male who is easiest to train and we feel that everyone can do Aikido. That is how we encourage women, children and the not so young to feel at home in Aikido.

I find the references to "mcdojo and such" to be sad. There are many ways to become stronger and enlightened.

And to Rob....about your question as to why I don't go to seminars taught by women.....the honest answer is that I am not interested in training in other styles. I find it quite uncomfortable and awkward.

And lastly I apologize to anyone who took my initial rant personally.......... it was not meant that way.....it was more at the structure of Aikido.........and really at the structure of the world.

Mary
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:11 PM   #238
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Hi Mary,

Thanks for posting. I agree that we should not focus on any students based on their gender/youth. What did you find most helpful at your dojo?

Lastly, as a relatively long time female aikidoka, who has expressed passion for the issue(s), what do you feel your responsbility is/should be - if any - towards improving the structure of aikido? Just curious.

Thanks,
Rob
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Old 03-16-2005, 02:29 PM   #239
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Equitable?

[quote=Rob Liberti]Hi Mary,

Thanks for posting. I agree that we should not focus on any students based on their gender/youth. What did you find most helpful at your dojo?"

Well, when I started training several of the men were very helpful and encouraging. (I had a really hard time rolling at first.) Some other men were impatient and judgmental with me because at first I was an awkward uke. At our present dojo everyone is encouraged to do their best. We try to use everyone as demonstration ukes and to accept that what is one person's best is another's just okay.

Rob wrote:
"Lastly, as a relatively long time female aikidoka, who has expressed passion for the issue(s), what do you feel your responsibility is/should be - if any - towards improving the structure of aikido? Just curious."

That is a good question. As an independent dojo we are pretty much outside the "structure" of Aikido. My goal is to help keep our organization on the track it is on now. We are at least 60% women because our our friendly, unpretentious attitudes and the inviting feeling that anything is possible.

Mary
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Old 03-16-2005, 04:09 PM   #240
mj
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote:
... our friendly, unpretentious attitudes and the inviting feeling that anything is possible.

Mary
What we aspire to

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Old 03-16-2005, 09:34 PM   #241
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote:
As an independent dojo we are pretty much outside the "structure" of Aikido. My goal is to help keep our organization on the track it is on now. We are at least 60% women because our our friendly, unpretentious attitudes and the inviting feeling that anything is possible.
Mary
That's good to hear you say. I can't remember who said above that you have to be the change you want to take place in the world, but it was a great quote.

All those sufragettes won their rights by being inspired and rising up to surmount their problems. It looks like you are on your way to doing something about yours.

Congratulations, Mary.
Bill

PS: I hope you're planning to include male Aikidoka in your future endeavors. ?
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Old 03-17-2005, 06:46 AM   #242
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

When you say "organization" to you mean just the sinlge "independant dojo"?

Bill, I'm positive they are just fine to men. I think that maybe the crux of the topic - that it doesn't have to be good for just one gender at the expense of the other. Of course there are extremes both ways, and I'm sure it's much more favorable towards the gender of the primary person trying to facilite the learning atmosphere - which is more often men. I think my point is that it's just difficult for a male to facilitate what is best for all without getting apporpriate feedback - and that feedback is not easy to get. The new people have not no trust with you established, and the old timers can be quite jaded by their past exterienced - even from other dojos.

I do appreciate the curage and perseverance of those who continued to try to help me (and others) understand what can be done to improve things for all dispite a seemingly new form of technological terrets.

Rob
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Old 03-17-2005, 07:53 AM   #243
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Equitable?

[quote=Rob Liberti]When you say "organization" to you mean just the sinlge "independant dojo"?

Nope, we have 3 dojos at the moment with another pending in Troy.

Last nights class had 6 males and 6 females. We appreciate men, too.
Mir
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Old 03-17-2005, 10:11 AM   #244
rob_liberti
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Re: Equitable?

Interesting. Great. Well, you can have good influence in your small organization, although I would love to see you get past your awkard feelings about training elsewhere and continue to support females in aikido on a larger scale.

Rob
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Old 03-17-2005, 03:32 PM   #245
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: Equitable?

Ditto for me. I think Aikido worldwide is splintered enough. We should all be at least moving toward unifying.
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Old 03-17-2005, 07:37 PM   #246
wendyrowe
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Re: Equitable?

I hope I'm not opening up a can of worms here, but I'm just wondering. Three men responded favorably to my previous post (#230), but no women have commented either way. That could be because they have nothing new to add, or because they don't like all or some of my post but don't want to call me out about it. Please PM me if you have feedback you don't want to post. Thanks!
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Old 03-18-2005, 02:17 AM   #247
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Equitable?

Hi Wendy -
I haven't been online for a couple of days, or I might have responded without being prompted.

I wouldn't want any rank that I thought was given to me just because I'm a woman. Nor would I be happy if I thought that rank was being withheld because I'm a woman. I don't think that either of those things happen where I train, but I'm cynical enough to believe that they do happen at other dojos.

The dojo is such an important part of my life that it borders on the sacred for me, and part of that is *because* of the treatment I get there - based on the time that I devote, and the skill that I show, and on my attitude, and not on the way I dress or on how well I meet or do not meet stereotyped gender roles. The dojo is a haven away from that bs. I may still have to tell a new guy, 'Don't miss me,' five or ten times before he'll give me an honest attack or atemi, but the folks that have been training with me know that I've been trained to get my face (or knees, or whatever) out of the way just like everyone else.

I recognize that providing this type of haven is not the primary purpose of an aikido dojo - or maybe not even a purpose at all so much as a happy side-effect of honest training. To be honest, I'm not sure if that kind of atmosphere *can* be produced on purpose.

On a different tack, I also teach kids - for some odd reason, nearly all of my students (and all of the ones in the class that I teach solo) right now are boys. The boys don't seem to notice one way or another that I'm female*, wheras in the past some of the girls I've taught developed a form of hero-worship to the point that I almost think someone else would make a better teacher for them.

-LK
*Once I caught someone saying, 'girls are wierd,' or something typically boyish along that line. When I loudly cleared my throat, he looked startled and then said, 'you don't count.'
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Old 03-18-2005, 05:08 AM   #248
mj
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Lorien Lowe wrote:
... When I loudly cleared my throat, he looked startled and then said, 'you don't count.'
Hah!

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Old 03-18-2005, 06:56 AM   #249
ruthmc
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Re: Equitable?

Quote:
Rob Liberti wrote:
I actually had a weird backlash problem with this once. At one point in my training, I joined a dojo that had several female students who were senior to me. I asked some seniors to work with me after class and I got the same feeling from them you get when you ask someone out who is clearly not interested. I picked up on that pretty quickly and stoped asking that person. It took me a while to see that just the female seniors where like that with me - but it was most of them. I really wasn't trying to date them, and I didn't know how to fix the problem, so I didn't ask them to work out with me after class. I thought I might win them over by training with good energy and commitment but it always seemed they just barely tolorated me. That was a bit creepy and weird.
Hi Rob,
Yes - very weird indeed! If a student asked me for help with their training, I would always assume that they wanted help with their Aikido. If they were looking for a date, I guess they'd ask to meet in a bar or something...

Maybe these women just hadn't made the distinction between dating and helping a fellow student very clearly in their minds. From what I've read here, it seems that this problem does crop up occasionally in various dojo, with both men and women. It's a shame. All we can do is to be as clear as we can in our intention when asking for help, and to be equally clear when giving assistance to others.

Ruth
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Old 03-19-2005, 10:04 PM   #250
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Equitable?

I think it's safe to assume that most of the women here feel that their *own* dojos are fairly equitable, or they wouldn't be practicing there. However, have any of you encountered sexist attitudes (not including in relative beginners who haven't learned any better yet) at other dojos? This is not a rhetorical question; I'd like to hear from people no matter what the answer.

-LK
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