Women of Cannabis: An Essential Exhibition
Women in the world of cannabis have long gone unacknowledged and underappreciated. The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum hosted an exhibition dedicated to the wonderful women who have made their mark on the cannabis industry. From innovators to consumers, the exhibition celebrates successful women at the forefront of cannabis culture.
‘We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis’ was exhibited in 2018 at The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. The exhibition’s curator, Simone Badoux, and featured photographer, Maria Cavali, spoke to Sensi Seeds about their influences, experiences, and explorations as women in the world of cannabis.
In this video interview, Simone talks about her motivation and inspiration for creating the exhibition, her background in gender studies, and her personal experience of being a woman working in the cannabis industry.
Simone Badoux has been working for the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum since the beginning of 2017 in the role of Assistant Manager. In that time, she co-curated the exhibitions ’The Pope Smokes Dope’ and ’Cannabis Cuisine’. These were major successes in both Amsterdam and Barcelona and appeared at festivals in Spain and The Netherlands.
Simone was responsible for the initial concept of ‘We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis’ the first exhibition at the museum to highlight women at the forefront of cannabis culture. As Simone mentions, finding just one woman to represent all Women of Cannabis for the exhibition graphics was an impossible task. Using the plant itself as the main graphic represents the inclusivity at the core of the exhibition’s message. Womanhood comes in all shapes and sizes.
Women’s emancipation & the cannabis industry
The exhibition launched during one of the most exciting times for women’s emancipation: the fourth wave of feminism. This movement was powered by a focus on justice for women, enriched by the inclusion of gender nonconformity, and utilised the previously unavailable communication channels of social media to spread its message.
A walk around the museum and gallery would be enough to demonstrate that up until now, women have been sorely underrepresented in the cannabis industry. This exhibition aimed to rectify that historical inaccuracy.
The world of cannabis – its growers, consumers, aficionados, breeders, historians, researchers, and innovators – can be viewed as a microcosm of society. The patriarchal control of economic power is visible in both, with the women interviewed at the exhibition all mentioning the traditional roles of men as sellers, either in coffeeshops or informally. If we are to truly normalise and legitimise the cannabis industry, this imbalance must be addressed.
In any endeavour where women are the focus, it is imperative to listen and amplify the voices of the women themselves. Rejecting the dominance of the male gaze, internalised sexism and patriarchal assumptions, the exhibition curators took great care in their portrayal of the women within the cannabis community.
Women, whether through choice or lack of opportunity, have historically remained in the background. However, there is a shift occurring. 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.
The seeds of coffeeshop culture were sown by women
The consensus seems to be that as cannabis legislation changes to create an increasingly legal and therefore safer market women feel confident in coming to the fore. This is especially visible in the US, resulting in more women in executive positions in emerging cannabis businesses than in all other business sectors put together.
The legacy of this is also visible in Europe. Women such as Mila Jansen laid the foundations for the coffeeshop culture that has defined Amsterdam and The Netherlands to this day.
The exhibition ‘We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis’ curates the achievements of both the major female players in the cannabis industry today, and the four-thousand-year history (or her story, if you will) of women’s experiences of cannabis.
The multi-faceted power of women who consume cannabis
Maria Cavali was the photographer behind the striking portraits of smoking women in coffeeshops, featured in ‘We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis’.
Unlike Simone Badoux, Maria Cavali does not identify as a feminist. Her views on the potential of women empowering women are partly informed by her recently becoming a mother and the difficulties of balancing parenthood, work, and family life. Her portraits succeed in capturing the strength, mystery, and rich, multi-faceted power of women who consume cannabis.
The takeaways from this exhibition are many and varied. Whether it be a new insight into, or positive affirmation of, the way women have shaped the cannabis industry throughout its history, the ‘We Are Mary Jane: Women of Cannabis’ exhibition encouraged an embrace of femininity in all its forms.
Four Women of Cannabis, four different voices
Cited as a renowned influence by women throughout the world of cannabis, Mila Jansen is a heroine to many. Opening her boutique in Amsterdam in 1965, Kink 22 became a teahouse and social hub two years later. It was frequented daily by those wishing to share cannabis and gossip.
After spending fourteen years in India travelling, working, and raising her family, Mila then returned to Amsterdam. She proceeded to invent the Pollinator and Ice-O-Lator hash making systems. These revolutionised home and small-scale hash making. Not for nothing is she known as ‘The Queen of Hash’.
A friend of Sensi Seeds and the Dronkers family for many years, Mila boasts a bold and beautiful spirit combined with a talent for practical innovation. She also has 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. Previous 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 essential to the grand opening of the Hemp Gallery in Amsterdam and the official inauguration of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Barcelona. She balances her career with her family: her husband, their four children, and two dogs. She is a shining example of the modern working woman.
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.
Did you attend the exhibition in person? Have you felt inspired by the women featured in our exhibition highlights? Let us know in the comments below.