By Simone Fischer
As I navigate my way through the cannabis industry, I can’t help but wonder about its current relationship with women. Most of the time when I do find visible women within the community, I see “420 nurses” or other types of scantly-clad females.
I find it interesting that despite the rampant sexual objectification of women in the cannabis industry, women are still often faced with the stigma of using cannabis in the first place. Some have gone as far to say that using cannabis is an “unladylike” or “unappealing” habit for a woman to have. As far as I know, using cannabis knows no gender, but many women are confronted with inherent shame when opening up about it.
Why can’t we see more Diane Fornbachers and Sabrina Fendricks?
I have a theory.
Lets go back to 1949 during the time when propaganda around “Reefer Madness” was peaking. Kristen Gwynne’s article on Alternet teases out some of the issues in the film She Shoulda Said ‘No!’. The story line revolves around a girl who experiments with cannabis which consequently heightens her sexual promiscuity, undoubtably portrayed in a negative light. First off, causation does not prove correlation. Smoking weed does not inherently make you a slut.
Secondly, this type of thinking promotes the same kind of victim blaming that we also see with alcohol intoxication. The idea that if women choose to use these substances, the consequence of rape or other forms of sexual violence is a given. This is victim blaming and slut-shaming.
The previous generation of America has systematically used women’s sexualities to discourage the use of cannabis. “Don’t smoke weed unless you are willing to risk your self-worth and/or reputation”. This is another example of the sexist double standards that often applies to women, while leaving men unexamined in the same light. The purity myth when applied to cannabis works to discourage female experimentation with cannabis, which is still happening today.
If women still feeling guilty about opening up about smoking pot, the chances of them being involved within the cannabis world is slim. The unwarranted sexual stigma associated with women and cannabis usage has also worked to isolate women from the cannabis industry. Rape culture has been perpetuated through the prohibition mindset by the handy work of the U.S. government. Women should not be unfairly judged because they smoke pot.
You should be able to do your thing ladies. Stigma free.
In order to break the stigmas that female cannabis users are faced with, we must work to “come out” of the green closet as women. To successfully legitimize cannabis in society at large, women must recognize and validate our own experiences and usage. This alone can be daunting due to the harsh backlash women often endure when deviating from gender norms. Mothers are especially criticized for their cannabis use which brings up serious race, class, and gender issues.
Women must start recognizing the responsibility of claiming their experiences with cannabis. But with that said, if the cannabis industry wants to succeed in the inclusion of women without stigma, the issues on gender oppression must be addressed.
Lets work together to create a cannabis industry that everybody can relate too.
Simone Fischer recently graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelors Degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and a Minor in Philosophy, where she worked in the PSU Office of Graduate Studies. Prior to making the switch to Women’s studies, Simone was pre-med so her interests have always been rooted in medicine. Currently, she pens thought provoking pieces for our blog and works as a Front Desk Representative at Brightside Community Foundation.