(....not to mention votes)
There really is nothing new about women learning martial arts for practical self-defence. The BBC has just published an interesting article about the Sufragettes who, in the early part of the 20th Century, studied jiu-jitsu in order to deal with aggressive attacks (even by policemen!)
Aikido is based upon aiki-jui-jitsu and some of the best practitioners I've ever seen are women. The main quality of jiu-jitsu which attracted the suffragettes was (according to the BBC feature) that fact that it "emphasised using the attacker's force against them, channelling their momentum," which made it effective even when used by a small women against a large man. The same is true of aikido. In fact, aikido goes even further than jiu-jitsu in emphasising the importance of using the force of the attack in order to defeat the attacker.
Read the full article HERE.