I would consider myself a bit of a stoner; I prefer a joint to a bottle at a party and I smoke recreationally on my own from time to time. In my experience, within stoner culture women are frequently depicted in a derogatory fashion.
It doesn’t help that media and movies popular amongst stoners seem to be entirely lacking in female characters and when they exist they are sexually objectified.
The HBO show Weeds, about an upper-class suburban mother who supports her family after her husband passes away by selling weed, would seem a possible exception but falls far short of doing justice for women. Other than the main character, Nancy, the show is overwhelmingly devoid of female characters in all eight of its seasons. Nancy, who should be the “strong matriarch,” is depicted as unstable and unreliable. Her promiscuity with the wrong men often causes chaos and problems for the family. Nancy’s promiscuity also causes her to become a sexual object to the viewer. Yet again, a show that appeals to ‘stoner culture’ does not portray women in a positive light.
Within stoner culture, lies the idealization of the “hot stoner chick.”
A “hot stoner chick,” first and foremost, is a sexual object and is conventionally attractive with a small waist and large chest. She has her own unique sense of style. She has her own piece and stash. And of course, she loves some good bud.
I’ve seen images and portrayals of this ideal everywhere, the girls behind the counters at dispensaries, countless tumblr pages dedicated to images of half naked girls smoking, a mannequin in a green nurse costume outside a med card shop, Nancy in Weeds, or the Miss High Times contest in which men can rate pictures of ‘hot stoner chicks’.
I have been a subject myself. I was smoking with a guy I had recently started dating. He gave me a look and made a comment that there was something so hot about a girl hitting a bong. He claimed it was perhaps because a bong is slightly phallic. A bong is no more phallic than a bottle of beer. In reality, he was just morphing me into the cultural ideal.
When women fall outside of fulfilling the ‘hot stoner chick’ ideal, because they aren’t seen as attractive or as a potential sexual partner, they are thought of as being naive and inexperienced.
In my experience, “normal” women who smoke weed aren’t taken seriously.
On my eighteenth birthday I went to go get myself a new piece. I walked into one of the many head shops in Westwood and asked the guy behind the counter for recommendations. He first pointed out the small collection of cutesy pink pipes. I was slightly offended but I laughed it off and quickly specified that I wanted something I could actually smoke out of. He still pointed out the more decorative pipes so I showed him what I wanted instead.
Marijuana use seems to be reserved strictly for men.
Often at parties, I join in on a circle of friends and the joint seems to skip me, going right to the next guy. I ask for a hit and they ignore me entirely. Instead, I get ushered over to the table of drinks. It’s as if it’s some secret male culture I can’t be a part of.
Stoner culture has yet to make room for real women. We can only hope that someday this might change and that women can earn a place as something more than a sexualized object.