So, I like cigars. I approach them in the same way I approach tea & tea drinking: as a ritual, a reward, a relaxation. These are sensory pleasures: contemplative and experiential. But, as a woman in a heavily male dominated world, cigar smoking is a pleasure I'm both careful about & protective of.
In both action and language I keep my cigars as a treat & retreat. Even in the above intro, I made certain to say 'sensory' as opposed to 'sensual.' Though both are true, women are so highly sexualized, especially in regard to cigars: is the stick not often simply used as an evocative, erotic stand-in for another kind of 'chubby'?
Whether fair or not, there are conventions I employ that help me enjoy my hobby, privately. As with many introverts, do we not find heightened pleasure in singular, intimate rituals, those solitary moments we jealously guard? My occasional cigar is this. I don't seek camaraderie with this experience. Which is not to say that I don't seek out conversation and knowledge from other cigar enthusiasts; I do. And I relish opportunities to share and trade sticks with others, that 'brother-/sister-hood' I happily participate in. Smoking I still prefer alone.
Why? A wheel graph might indicate some part self-consciousness, some part hyper-vigilance against becoming an unwitting sexualized member of a community, the paranoia of being perceived as such, the boredom of proving otherwise. How many times have I wandered into a humidor and spent the first long minutes presenting a 'provanance' of sorts to the proprietor? Proving I'm not clueless, establishing that I fit. How many times have I asked after a new blend, only to be dismissed with: "I've never heard of that. It must be flavored." Cause you know, as a girl, I must only want to smoke sweetened, flavored sticks. Or I'm just wrong. That new cigar probably doesn't exist. Regardless of industry news.
Of course these are generalizations. I'd say it's about a 50/50 split. Which means half of my interactions are great. I've got my intro down to smooth science now. Friendly, drop a few brand interests & flavor profiles I like--and the proprietor sees that I'm there for my own enjoyment. And this lets us drop into regular relaxed roles: happy cigar smokers sharing a love of cigars.
Yet, there are old bastions out there. And that's fine. I really enjoy some of the exclusivity of cigar smoking, the simultaneous 'brotherhood' but also closed ranks of smokers. How can I express this? I don't want old men to have to open up their hallowed escape from women to me. I'm happy for man caves and men's retreats. As a shy and introverted soul, I achingly understand the need and love of a certain type of space, private space, ritual space, sometimes "guy" space. I get it on a very deep level and have no desire to rock this boat. In places like that, if they have a great selection but a 'boys only' attitude, I go early to check out the wares, make my picks and leave. Since I don't like smoking with others, I'm not seeking fellowship--just good product. So I'm happy to shop in peace and get the hell out. But for those places that enjoy having sisters of the leaf, I sure do appreciate that community.
If I sound vaguely self-diminishing, I don't mean to be. It's difficult for me to distill my thoughts about this well. I'm dashing this off to have a thing to look at and refine later. But, I'm a fan of private space. As such, I have no desire to intrude upon someone else's haven.