by Martha Thompson, reblogging from Martha Thompson’s blog (2.19.15)
“She’s my ideal woman—blonde, beautiful, and carries a GLOCK.” I almost sprayed my just-sipped iced tea over the table. I was at a meeting with a man who wanted self-defense courses in his community, especially for college women.
I was reminded of that moment when I read the recent New York Times article “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape.” Lawmakers in ten states—Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming –have introduced bills to allow guns on a campus to stop sexual assault. Sponsor of the Nevada bill, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore said: “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them.” (Schwartz 2015).
For the moment, let’s set aside the blonde, beautiful, young, and hot remarks and focus on the argument that arming women is the way to stop sexual assault on campus. Jennifer Carlson (2014) says that confusing self-defense with gun defense limits women’s options, implies that “women must choose armed self-protection or no self-protection at all.”
Imagine how different the conversation might be if instead of a focus on guns, it was on empowerment-based self-defense. What if the NY Times headline was: “A Bid for Empowerment-Based Self-Defense on Campuses to Deter Rape.” Imagine if being blonde, beautiful, young, and hot were not criteria for social protection or social vilification. What if the priority in legislation and news coverage was on empowerment-based self-defense programs built upon the idea that regardless of age, gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, and social class people have the right to bodily integrity and the right to make decisions about how their own bodies are treated.
 Alan Schwartz. 2015. “A Bid for Guns on Campuses to Deter Rape.” The New York Times.February 18. Retrieved February 19, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/us/in-bid-to-allow-guns-on-campus-weapons-are-linked-to-fighting-sexual-assault.html?ref=todayspaper
 Jennifer D. Carlson. 2014. “From Gun Politics to Self-Defense Politics: A Feminist Critique of the Great Gun Debate.” Violence Against Women 20 (3): 369-377.Violence Against Women 20 (3): 369-377.
An Open Letter to See Jane Fight Back
We resent your suggesting that women train in self-defense because it is VICTIM BLAMING! VICTIM BLAMING, VICTIM BLAMING, VICTIM BLAMING. Women training to protect their boundaries is as victim-blaming as telling women to wear hairy-legged tights or inserting that horrifying device with sharp teeth into their vaginal canals—which you yourself criticize on your own blog.
Sure, we get that research shows that women can successfully thwart attacks, and that they cope better with the emotional aftereffects of sexual assault if they did fight back, while no research exists to show that the aforementioned tights or teeth would do the same. Research, smesearch. We know there are lots of accounts of women and girls successfully resisting attackers, with or without prior training in self-defense.
But – and this is our point because we are men against victim-blaming – your suggestion that women do any of the work or make any of the changes that will ensure their own physical safety blames them for the attacks men commit. Sure, self-defense training makes it harder for us to attack them, but that’s not why we oppose it. We oppose it because it is victim-blaming!
Not only that, but such aggressive, unfeminine behavior will not attract most guys. We don’t want some bitchy woman in our faces shouting “NOOOOO!” and hitting or kicking us. We definitely find it a turnoff to think that a pretty lady we’re taking out on a date or inviting to our frat house for a party has actually trained for, or thought about in advance whatsoever, what she’d do if we surprised her with an unwanted play for her affections.
It’s bad enough that someone invented drug-detecting fingernail polish, because now we can’t see the colorful long nails worn on any girl in the same way again. We’re always suspecting that this lovely minx is actually wearing polish for the purpose of, not our pleasure, but her own protection. It’s just not fair. But more importantly, it’s victim-blaming!
The latest outrage is the research-based suggestion that parties should be held in women-controlled spaces. Sure, scholars know that campus party rape is enabled by male control of space. If it’s our frat house, for example, we control how dim the lights are, how much tasteless grain alcohol we put in the party punch, and how the bedroom doors lock. AND we get to offer girls a safe place to spend the night or a walk home (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The suggestion reported in The New York Times, which we just know you at SJFB will applaud, is to hold parties at sorority houses. We agree with everyone else out there (such as this mommy blogger) that THIS IS VICTIM BLAMING!
We are so glad that at least some women out there defend men’s right to control the space where we lure you into sex, to control the balance of physical aggression by keeping you defenseless, and to keep you from wearing things we don’t find attractive. We like you better as victims, but only because challenging that would be victim-blaming. Please, blame men. You are much more appealing to us when you remain helpless and wait for the men to change.
In closing – and we know you see where this is going – we want to advance the overarching argument that feminism, in general, is victim-blaming. After all, as feminism is a social movement of, largely, women for social change, of women reclaiming their space and their power whether or not men want to give it to them, and whether or not there is a bystander there to get it back for them, and so, it is VICITM BLAMING! And it therefore must stop!
Every time you ladies utter “Women Unite, Take Back the….” we will remind you that you really should sit back and wait for us men to take care of things. Anything else would be victim-blaming!
We think you can trust that we have your best interests at heart, that we know what’s best for you, and that we truly want you to feel empowered and liberated coming to the parties we set up to get you drunk and show us your tits.
Men Against Victim-Blaming