Every Girl down in Girlville
Believed she could fight
It made them feel empowered
It seemed like a right
It was something important they valued a lot
But the Grinch, at the CDC in Atlanta, did NOT!
He hated that women could learn how to fight
He hated that women
Did not need his oversight!
He hated that fighting was not just for guys,
He hated that fighting wasn’t driven by size.
Now please don’t ask the reasons, no one knows the whys.
It could be that his funding was a little too tight
Or that his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
But whatever the reason, his thinking or his monies,
The Grinch fumed in Atlanta at those feminist honeys
Who taught women to yell and to become empowered
They’d see those who crossed them’d be thoroughly devoured.
“They’ll have sex just when they want to!
They’ll enforce their own boundaries!
They’ll stop sexual assailants!”
Oh, the Grinch, he was foundering.
And the more that the Grinch thought, his heart growing cold
The more he hated self-defense and women all bold.
“They’ll insist they can resist and not do as they’re told!
This was all just keeping a set gender chasm.
The Grinch’s frail ego was starting to spasm,
“It’s as though they can act with their own damn intention!
It’s destroying the idea of bystander intervention!”
So the Grinch thus declared, with a determined sneer,
“I must stop women from fighting this year!”
And then the Grinch got a plan that was terribly grinchy
Terribly, status-quo awfully grinchy.
He’d dress like a bystander and take all their might.
The knights, they would win, ‘coz the damsels shouldn’t fight.
So off on his mission the Grinch quickly went
To save girls from themselves, with cis-gendered intent
From shelter to campus
From campus to class
The Grinch stole self-defense classes
There’d be no kicking ass!
He stole all their kick shields,
Unplugged all Nordic Tracks.
He took punching bags and focus pads
And just left the Rape-Axe.
He slithered and slunk through all-women dojos
The sensei was out, or she’d have dispatched him solo.
He got stuck only once, for a minute, just when
He stole self-defense data from the desk of Biden
In the VP’s own office, he mimicked Joe’s patter
“We don’t need self-defense, only bystanders matter!”
Two thousand feet up, right up Sawnee Mountain
The Grinch took equipment and data – discounting
The spirt of Girls down in Girlville who knew
Their empowerment wasn’t his call to eschew
“How scared they’ll all be,” he smugly thought to himself
“They’ll need rescuing now, they’ll need help from myself.
They can’t do it without me! And now that it’s clear
Their plaintive help cries I just simply must hear”.
But as the Grinch dangled his takings over the crevasse below
He heard, down in Girlville, a resounding “NO!”
Every Girl down in Girlville, the tall and the small
Could still fight–and without his approval at all!
“No, you won’t take our power, whether Grinch or White House
We’ll continue to fight – it’s our right, you big louse.”
Because the Girls in Girlville knew what the Grinch thought he’d win
Fighting spirit is something that comes from within.
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice cold in the snow
Stood puzzling and puzzling – how coud it be so?
He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
“Maybe safety,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a vow
Or a pledge or a poster or website – and now…
I see that while bystanders might still have their place
So too can girls make safe their own space.”
“Maybe safety,” he thought, “should be theirs for the taking
“not something to wait for me and boys to be making.”
And what happened then?
Well in Girlville, they say
The Grinch read all the data and for self-defense, made way
And then the true meaing of safety came through
And the Grinch called his colleagues, and told them that, too.
And all those with funding, all those with clout
Embraced self-defense training, putting aside all their doubt.
They returned the equipment, they shared all the data
They finally saw self-defense training was better
Better than waiting for changes to land
Better than hoping that help was at hand
Better because, while those things might be coming
The Girls down in Girlville would send the rapists running.
And with this new knowledge, they reminded them all
All those in rape prevention, the tall and the small,
That self-defense training wasn’t something awful
But was something to foster, and cheer, after all.
Wishing you an empowering start to the holiday season –
Jill and Martha
While delighted to see the New York Times publishing a piece on women’s self-defense (Abby Ellin’s November 14, 2015 piece “Using High Heels for Self-Defense“), I take serious exception with the media’s overall reluctance to embrace the data on the efficacy of women’s self-defense and self-defense training, their overlooking of the real stories of real girls and women thwarting rape and sexual assault, and their courting of the “Yes, but…” chorus who is always right there to chime in with the dangers of women serving as their own bystanders.
Unless it’s pretty. And ladylike. And feminine. In all the highly stereotypical, culturally-driven ways in which we use those words.
So it’s no fluke that when a media outlet like the New York Times publishes a piece about self-defense that is less apologetic, less gloom-and-doom, less “don’t try this at home”, it makes sure its readers know that these women are still following the rules of appropriate gendered behavior. They are still ladies.
Now, lots of women wear high heels. I, in fact, have several pairs in my closet, a number of which I can actually even walk in. Could they be used as a weapon? Sure. (They can also be used as a hammer. Or a door stop. Or a dog toy.) Could I fight while wearing heels? I don’t see why not.
But I’m not going to suggest to women and girls that in order to train in self-defense, or to fight back against an attacker, I must do so with all the trappings of femininity intact and in place. In fact, the scholarship on self-defense suggests that good feminine socialization is part of what gets unlearned in self-defense training, so that women have a full range of behaviors and options available to them to keep themselves safe.
I’m not going to fault Avital Zeisler for teaching women to fight in high heels, or even for suggesting, as she is quoted in this article, that women shouldn’t have to “compromise their femininity” in order to fight back. Whatever gets them in the door is more or less okay by me. And from what I gather from this article, high heels are not required equipment for the course. So I’m assuming that means that women don’t have to perform a particular type of femininity to take the class, either.
I am, however, going to fault the New York Times for its selective reporting. News flash, New York Times: rape and sexual assault are not pretty. So don’t suggest I have to be in order to fight.