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Top Ten Reasons We Should Offer Self-Defense Training to College Women  

10. Frat guys make an alcoholic beverage they call “the panty dropper.”

9.  Miss USA recommends it, and she’s a hot babe (and is also a fourth degree black belt).

8.  A testicle twist is far more effective at stopping a rapist than even the best feminist literary criticism.

7.  According to Pantene shampoo, you can kick a date rapist in the knees as long as you say “sorry” afterward, or beforehand, or during, or as long as you don’t say “sorry,” although it’s admittedly confusing (sorry).

6.  Guys won’t join the bystander intervention movement as a “good way to meet girls.”

5.  Being a damsel in distress is sooo 1849, unless you listen to the White House Task Force recommendations, in which case it’s sooo 2014.

4.  Two words: Steubenville, Ohio.

3.  Sometimes red flags require black eyes.

2.  As feminists, we’d really like to reclaim the term “ball busters.”


1.  Because college women need to kick George Will’s ass, which would totally give him that victim status he’s been coveting.


Martha McCaughey and Jill Cermele




10 reasons why advocating self-defense training for women is feminist and not victim-blaming.

  1. SELF-DEFENSE CAN WORK.  There are decades of data, referenced by the National Institute of Justice, that support the effectiveness of self-defense, verbal and physical, in stopping rape and sexual assault.
  2.  Self-defense advocates and instructors know that rape and sexual assault is always the fault and responsibility of the perpetrator, and never the fault or responsibility of the target, victim, or survivor.
  3. Self-defense offers women an option for risk reduction and maintaining their safety in ways that increase their freedom to the world, rather than limiting their freedom and options the way that relying on avoidance strategies and male protection does.  In fact, the reliance on the men in our lives to maintain our safety is problematic; according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 80% of the perpetrators of sexual violence against women between 2005 and 2010 were family members, intimate partners, friends, or acquaintances.
  4. Self-defense is a legal right open to women just as it is to men.
  5. Self-defense challenges the notion that women’s bodies are inherently vulnerable to men’s and the notion that men’s bodies are unstoppable.
  6. Self-defense challenges the belief that rape is thwarted only by the perpetrator “coming to his senses”, through bystander interference, or divine intervention.
  7. Self-defense training changes the broader culture that supports rape culture (or did you think it was just coincidence that so many guys think assertive women aren’t sexy?).
  8. Self-defense training teaches women the skills that facilitate the setting of healthy emotional and physical boundaries.
  9. Self-defense is empowering, and can change women’s beliefs about what they are capable of and what they are entitled to.
  10. And finally, for all these reasons, SELF-DEFENSE ALSO TEACHES MEN NOT TO RAPE.

Jill Cermele and Martha McCaughey

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