No, it’s Not NORML to be Sexist…but Thanks for Asking

This is in response to Radical Russ Belville’s latest piece entitled “Is it NORML to be Sexist?

Mr. Belville takes on a common issue regarding women’s roles in the marijuana movement, addressing the scantily clad babes often seen at pot trade magazines and expos and how they could be ultimately hurting “the cause.” He also notes the disproportionate amount of men in relation to women throughout said cause, as well as being smokers.

“Those who have tried pot in their lifetime are 54% male; by the time you get to the daily tokers like me, it’s 68%.  That’s two tokers for every tokette!  (Hmm, is “tokette” sexist?)”

No, tokette is obviously not sexist. But way to diminish terms that genuinely are! Sexism tends to be the one “ism” that can be joked about freely (and kind of lamely, in this case). Had you made a similar remark re: African American people (Hmmm…is “darkette” racist?), it wouldn’t have been construed as remotely funny. But alas, by simply critiquing a joke, I must be utterly lacking in a sense of humor. (It’s one of the age-old techniques to shut up a feminist: “Your dour, humorless wench, you. Can’t you take a joke?” Yes, but as a rule, I prefer my jokes the way I prefer my men: funny.)

“On one side you have free speech and sexual expression advocates explaining that sex sells! The marijuana industry is no different in that respect than the fast food, car, and beer manufacturers.”

No, Mr. Belville, marketers say that sex sells, not sexual expression advocates (whoever the heck they are and can I join their club?). Your implication is that scantily clad women selling goods is a form of sexual expression, which it obviously isn’t; it’s just good old-fashioned objectification.

Or do we flaunt our freedom to communicate any message we like, risking it may harm recruiting efforts and public opinion for legalization?  Bottom line (if you’ll pardon the pun): are the extra dollars from advertising marijuana with babes in booty shorts worth impeding the legalization of marijuana?

Ah, priorities. Sure, the exploitation of women may impede a movement, but (and this is a tiny but…oops! Pardon the pun!), it may also oppress half of the population in a broad range of far-reaching and insidious ways. My takeaway? You’re not so concerned with women being squelched by this type of exploitation, because it doesn’t affect you directly. You do care if it affects the legalization of marijuana.

Mr. Belville goes on to question:

Does our outlaw counterculture and male/female imbalance just shelter us from recognizing the sexism that the mainstream’s been addressing and correcting over the past three decades, or does it actively foster an environment of sexism?

First of all, the imbalance of women to men pot smokers isn’t that substantial. Look at your numbers again. There are a lot of women smoking weed. It’s not a man’s sport. Obviously, women are shutting up for the same reasons they always shut up: fear of repercussion, not lack of agreement.

And do tell me what happened three decades ago. I had no clue that the mainstream has been “addressing and correcting” sexism since 1981. I so didn’t get that memo. Open up a magazine, turn on your television, listen to your radio, walk down your street. Sexism is alive and well and raping and exploiting in 2011. Using hot chicks to sell stuff is hardly counterculture; it’s simply more of the same. It’s very…frat. And you’re right; it does diminish a message.

I get what you were going after and do appreciate your underlying points. You’re taking the baby steps required to truly understand the objectification and unheard voices of women. And you nailed the head (is that an “excuse the pun” too? Head? Get it?) on many levels.

But as a woman, I have to walk this walk. I have to look good and sell beer. I have to speak out, and then shut up. And I have to get the joke. Even when it’s not funny.

My Kind of Hot Chick Smoking Weed!

Beth Mann is a popular blogger and writer for Open Salon and Salon. She is also an accomplished artist with over 15 years of experience, as well as the president of Hot Buttered Media. She currently resides at the Jersey shore where she can be found surfing or singing karaoke at a local dive bar.

Contact: maryjane {at }

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