Pubdate: Thu, 16 Aug 2007
Source: Stranger, The (Seattle, WA)
Copyright: 2007 The Stranger
Author: Ari Spool
Cited: Seattle Hempfest, August 18-19, 2007,


There's No Spicoli for Women, but There Is Fiona, a 30-Something 
Suburban Schoolteacher.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop, sipping apple juice with a suburban 
schoolteacher who's wearing running shorts and polar fleece on a 
chilly summer day.

This teacher's students and the students' parents might be startled 
by today's agenda: Teach is headed to a guy's house to do bong hits. 
And not just any bong hits. This teacher's dealer has a gravity 
bong--an often-homemade jug bong that delivers a more intense hit; 
gravity bongs can be taller than some people. Teach is also going to 
buy some weed.

"When I buy from him I get an eighth and he smokes me out," teach 
tells me, "so I get, you know, the bonus round."

The only thing more remarkable than teach's drug use is teach's 
gender. Fiona is that rarest of species--a female stoner.

Smoking pot is a guy thing. Guys are the ones who deal, buy, and 
smoke. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
stated that adult males were 50 percent more likely to have smoked 
marijuana in the last month than females. (Alcohol use showed only a 
12 percent difference.) All illegal drugs show this approximate 
divide between the sexes (except illegally obtained 
prescriptions--women use those in substantially higher numbers).

Why don't women smoke pot as much as men? Marijuana isn't like other 
illicit substances; it's more accessible than most drugs and safer 
than cigarettes or alcohol. A joint is not a crack pipe.

Are women scared of being out of control? Maybe, but if that were the 
case, wouldn't women drink less than they do? Maybe women are scared 
of getting arrested--pot is harder to sneak than pills. But women 
don't take prescription drugs to get a feeling of euphoria (you know, 
high), but to cover up for a lack of confidence or to lose weight, 
according to the Associated Press. And smoking pot definitely does 
not help you lose weight.

Perhaps the obstacle to female toking is a fear of looking lazy. 
Getting stoned is, in effect, a great way to relax. Men are allowed 
to be lazy--being stoned is part of their farting, pajama-wearing, 
video-game-playing pantheon of acceptable male relaxation techniques. 
Since Jeff Spicoli made his debut in 1982's Fast Times at Ridgemont 
High, and continuing into the entire oeuvre of director Judd Apatow 
(The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up), stonerdom is an accepted part 
of modern maleness. Their sloth is even kind of adorable.

But modern women are not allowed to be lazy, adorable stoners. Women 
have to go to college (which they're now doing at higher rates than 
men), and then get their careers going quickly, before their 
biological clocks run out. Then they have to have kids and take them 
to all of their activities. There is no time for women to be slovenly 
and relax--and if women do relax, it has to be at a gym.

One of feminism's original goals to subvert traditional male and 
female roles. So how come pot culture, which one would expect to be 
receptive to the feminist message, has changed so little?

Thirty-five-year-old Fiona (her name has been changed to protect her 
stonerdom) has been a teacher for ten years. She and her boyfriend 
spend about $120 to $160 a month on pot, an expense that's figured 
into their household budget.

"There's such a focus on achieving things and gaining materialistic 
things," says Fiona, "that people have this view of people who smoke 
pot as Deadheads or hippies."

Fiona is no hippie. In fact, she has her life completely together: 
She drives an almost-paid-off 2007 model car, lives in one Seattle's 
nicer neighborhoods, and even paid off her student loan in a year. 
She also plays in a regular ultimate frisbee game. (Ultimate frisbee 
is for jocks these days, not hippies.)

"My parents were hippies, and I was always embarrassed of how they 
smoked pot when I was growing up because I went to Catholic school," 
she says in an even tone, pushing her red hair out of her face as she 
speaks. "They tried to grow it but the cats would always eat it." She 
didn't start smoking weed until high school--and she did it to rebel 
against school administrators, not her parents.

Now she says she smokes weed pretty much every night, and on the 
weekends she smokes more than once a day. "I have to be on my game 
when I am at work, but it's very stressful, so I come home and I just 
want to relax and chill out at my house."

Smoking pot helps her mellow out after work, but it also helps her 
with her job. She reflects on problems she had that day: "Sometimes 
[smoking pot] helps me to be creative in my problem solving."

But it's not all about her professional life. "A lot of girls drink 
to be social, and when you smoke pot, you're kind of in for the 
night." But when Fiona goes out, she'll smoke weed before she starts 
drinking. When attending a recent Daft Punk concert, she smoked a 
little pot before she went into the venue: "It definitely helps 
deepen my appreciation of music."

Women, of course, aren't supposed to smoke pot and then go drinking 
at Daft Punk concerts. They aren't supposed to turn to pot to help 
them with work.

A woman's role in pot culture? Like the case of this year's Hempfest 
poster, women are supposed to be cartoonish sexpots who cater to men 
(guess that's Hempfest's demographic) or sympathetic poster children 
for medical marijuana.

And when a woman does smoke weed on film, she's not generally a cute, 
bumbling, child like Apatow's male characters. She's a girl who is in 
trouble, a girl with low self-esteem, or a hippie-redux character. 
Even Kim Kelly (Busy Philipps) in Apatow's television series Freaks 
and Geeks smokes pot because she's troubled, not because she's a 
regular girl. The message? Men can handle pot. Women smoke pot when 
they can't handle their lives.

Fiona believes that media images have a lot to do with why so few 
women smoke pot, but says that fear of weight gain also plays a large 
role. "You get the munchies, you know?" says Fiona. "A lot of girls 
wouldn't want to sit on the couch and eat chips all night."

With all this social pressure on women not to be stoners, the gender 
divide is not surprising. Every aspect of getting stoned is banned 
from women's psyches--relaxing, eating, and feeling pleasure. It's 
reminiscent of old-school ideas about female sexuality--orgasms 
aren't ladylike so why would women want to have them?

But women should ignore that sexist Hempfest poster, and, like Fiona, 
hit Hempfest this weekend. (It's August 18 and 19 at Myrtle Edwards 
Park with five stages of music and speakers and brownie vendors 
galore.) They should also feel free to upend stereotypes all year 
long and, like Fiona, put their feet up after work and take a long 
toke from a gravity bong.

For more information about Seattle Hempfest and a full schedule of 
musicians and speakers go to 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake