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Why Some Women Still Feel Ashamed About Smoking Pot

While men have more freedom to be open about their weed use, women still risk getting judged.

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“I generally think women are not willing to take the risk of bringing up that subject because they’ll be judged by that other person,” says Sabrina Fendrick of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Women’s Alliance. “It’s also a social fear of being judged by other women and other men as well. There’s a connotation with marijuana, that lazy stoner attitude, and women already have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.”

Even in writing this article I experienced stoner stigma when a friend suggested I interview someone who also happens to be a daily smoker. “But you can’t tell her I told you to contact her,” my friend said. “I don’t want her to think that I called her a pothead.”

This is exactly why a 43-year-old friend of mine, and a mom of two young boys, won’t discuss her weed smoking with other women. “I don’t want to be judged,” she says. “I think in general women are supposed to be more responsible and something about it is irresponsible.” Another mom who responded to me on Twitter echoed those sentiments, saying that she doesn’t feel judged by family and friends, but does feel judged by the public around “racial and gender components.” Same goes for a 23-year-old who told me that she doesn’t talk about smoking “even among stoner friends.”

Most women I reached out to for this article didn’t want to speak openly about their habits even anonymously. One exception was a friend who says she doesn’t feel judged — except around her family. “There is a stigma that is still there and some ignorance as to the addictive quality.” But I tend to think her candor stems from one reason: she lives in Southern California.

Perhaps, eventually, the broader acceptance of smoking weed will spread to women. Two recent  examples: Lady Gaga and Rihanna both dressed up as bedazzled cannabis queens last year for Halloween. (Rihanna dressed as a weed bride with a bouquet of bud. Lady Gaga covered her nipples with sativa leaf nipple pasties.) And there’s an opportunity for women to create their own statement about marijuana in the future without feeling so, ahem, paranoid. I saw some hope after a conversation with my 21-year-old cousin, a senior at Oberlin, who says most of her girlfriends freely smoke weed. “People think it’s cool if girls smoke weed.” And then as an afterthought she added, “It might also be because of my environment.”

Hayley Krischer is a freelance writer. You can find her at www.femamom.com.

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