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.