Women of Cannabis In the final part of our feature on the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum exhibition We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis, enjoy these short interviews with four women who attended the opening, three of whom are featured in the exhibition.
In any endeavour where the focus is women, it is obviously vital to listen to, and amplify the voices of, the women themselves. Without the direct input of women, anything focussing on them becomes by default an extension of the male gaze. Internalised sexism and patriarchal assumptions mean that even with the direct input of women, care must be taken when portraying them in a public display such as this one.
Exhibition curator Simone Badoux mentions in the first part of this feature that finding just one woman to represent all Women of Cannabis for the exhibition graphics was impossible, which is why the plant itself was chosen instead. Indeed, it is far more inclusive to show no visual definition of womanhood at all than to show one which intrinsically excludes others.
For those who would try to argue that it is not necessary to illuminate and celebrate the role of women in cannabis separately to that of men, a walk round the museum and gallery (in fact, almost any museum or gallery) should be enough to demonstrate that women are currently sorely underrepresented.
If we are to truly normalise and legitimise the cannabis industry, this imbalance must be addressed just as much as in other complicit industries. If we are to encourage our daughters to pursue cannabis related careers, we must show them positive role models. As the saying goes, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
Four Women of Cannabis, four different voices
Cited as an influence by the other women in these videos and women throughout the world of cannabis, Mila Jansen is a heroine to many. In 1965 she opened a boutique in Amsterdam, Kink 22, which became a teahouse two years later and a social hub where cannabis and stories were shared on a daily basis.
Mila then spent fourteen years in India, travelling, working, and raising her family, before returning to Amsterdam and inventing the Pollinator and Ice-O-Lator hash-making systems which revolutionised home and small-scale hash making systems; not for nothing is she known as The Queen of Hash.
Mila has been a friend of Sensi Seeds and the Dronkers family for many years. She has a bold and beautiful spirit combined with an earthy and innovative practicality, and one of the most contagious laughs in the cannabis industry.
Shiva Maniotidis-Spaarenberg has been the driving force behind various cannabis-related events for over a decade.
She has organised and hosted the Cannabis Culture Awards, presented by the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, to individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to the acceptance of cannabis in all its forms; winners include former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Dries van Agt, the Global Commission on Drug Policy (represented by Richard Branson); and everyone’s favourite smuggler, the sorely missed Mr Nice, Howard Marks.
Shiva was also essential to the grand opening of the Hemp Gallery in Amsterdam and the official inauguration of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Barcelona. As is the case with so many working women, Shiva also balances her career with her family; her husband, their total of four children, and two dogs.
Rosalinde Bierings and Odiah Jagroep
Rosalinde is one of the women photographed by Maria Cavali for the We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis exhibition, and attended the opening with a group of friends, including Odiah. They both agreed to be interviewed without any preparation, and their spontaneity and sense of fun shines through as they answer the questions.