Tag Archives: self-defense

Open Letter to RAINN

Dear Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN):

Hello!  First, we hope it’s ok that we call you RAINN.  Second, happy 25th birthday! In keeping with the third wave of the feminist movement, we’ve all been emphasizing the importance of women’s being free from coercive defilement–whether that is by family members, dates, acquaintances, coworkers, intimate partners, exes, or strangers.  It’s hard to believe we’ve all been at this for so long.

We were so pleased when we saw that you have an entire page on your website devoted to “Steps You Can Take to Prevent Sexual Assault.”  For we here at See Jane Fight Back have been reviewing the scholarship that shows how self-defense–training in it and/or doing it when threatened–is tremendously empowering for many women, changes the scripts of our rape culture, and helps prevent sexual assault.

So imagine our disappointment, RAINN, when we realized that you say nothing about women resisting sexual assault (which is, after all, a key step they can take to prevent it).  Turns out you only talk about how someone can help prevent the assault of someone else, as a bystander.  This is not even data-driven advice.

While we hate to rain on your 25th birthday parade, we are deeply concerned that you are providing information informed more by some ideology about how it’s men’s job to change, not women’s, and that it would be victim-blame-y to share with anyone the research that verbal and physical resistance (self-defense) works to thwart assaults in individual situations and at a norms-changing societal level. (By the way, we do not think advocating self-defense is victim-blame-y.)

Your page for college students on preventing sexual assault also omits any mention of physical and verbal resistance, even though on this page you do risk blaming victims by telling them to be sure they have their smart phones set in certain ways to avoid attack, to have people they can contact at the ready, to have cash on hand, and also to keep their drinks covered so no one can drug it.  Obviously, we should be teaching men not to drug our drinks, too, but we agree with you that it makes good sense to alert women of the things they can do given that, currently, there are people drugging drinks.  For this same reason, we believe in telling women they can yell, kick, poke, push, and punch.

Sadly, RAINN, you tell women a variety of protective measures they can engage in but never tell women they can, and have a legal right to, resist an attacker verbally or physically.  They can, and they do.

RAINN, please consider what the CDC has said about data-driven prevention advice and programs.  You are robbing women of the information that could truly empower them and prevent assaults.  And you’re old enough to know better.


Martha & Jill

What is the Power of One? An Open Letter

Dear “Power of One” Campaign,

Your Power of One social marketing campaign at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) tells people that one person can make a difference, can do their part to stop sexual assault.  We applaud the fact that you’re not worried that this approach individualizes the problem of sexual violence.  You frame this strategy as primary prevention because it can stop sexual assault before it begins.  You say that people “have options when it comes to stopping sexual violence.”  In fact, you say that “even when it is hard, there is always something you can do. By taking a stand, you can help stop sexual violence in your community. ”   To this end, you use the Green Dot Program’s framework to say that people have “the Three D’s”: They can be Direct, Distract, and Delegate.  These are quoted below so people can see how you frame these three Ds.

1. You can be DIRECT.
Walk up and intervene. Respectfully ask that the offender stop the behavior and explain to them why it’s wrong.

2. You can DISTRACT.
Use a diversion to stop the behavior. Walk up and ask for directions or ask for the time. If it’s someone you know, talk about something you have in common with them.

3. You can DELEGATE.
Ask a friend, use the buddy system or call your local authorities to stop the behavior.

We agree that if everyone does their small part, we can help prevent sexual violence of any kind!  We just want to add a very crucial fourth D.

4. You can DEFEND yourself.

Move, shove, state “NO” firmly, shout “STOP!”, kick the groin or head, and resist the attacker with the goal of stopping the attacker and getting yourself to safety.  You can get help with these strategies by taking a self-defense training course, which emphasizes awareness, taking yourself seriously, verbal boundary setting and, finally, physical techniques for enforcing boundaries.

Oddly, your MCASA website lists self-defense classes as risk reduction rather than as primary prevention, despite the scholarly literature that establishes self-defense as primary prevention.   

We love that you want people to be engaged bystanders.  But of course we can be bystanders on our own behalves, too.  Women have historically been the caretakers of partners, children, and their communities.  It’s time we care for ourselves, too, and stand up for ourselves.  Bring in the bystander? Sure. But be your own bystander, too.  Be your own number one advocate.  Yeah, bring it! 


Jill & Martha

Seven Things Self-Defense Advocates Are Tired of Hearing

  1.  “Women shouldn’t have to defend themselves against sexual assault.”  Sigh.  Of course not, folks, if what you mean by that is “no one should sexually assault a woman, or anyone else, ever”, or “women shouldn’t be held responsible for sexual assault if they cannot/did not engage in self-defense, because the perpetrator is always to blame and responsible for sexual assault”.  Right.  But to say “women shouldn’t have to defend themselves” ala the Kurt Cobain meme is really just an excuse to deny women the right to defend themselves.  And they do have the right to defend themselves, if that is the choice they make for themselves because of the risk of assault or in the face of assault.  Period.
  2. “Self-defense isn’t primary prevention.”  Um.  Yes, it is, as we have explained countless times.  Primary prevention, according to the CDC, stops an assault before it happens, and impacts social and cultural norms that permeate and perpetuate rape culture.  Self-defense training, and women’s use of self-defense, has been demonstrated to effectively prevent and thwart assault, and to change our views of men as all-powerful and ever successful in sexual violence and women as inherently powerless and rapeable.  Self-defense is as much a primary prevention strategy as bystander intervention programs and Red Flag trainings.
  3. “Self-defense is/leads to victim-blaming.”  This critique is leveled at self-defense all the time.  Why?  Because we live in a rape culture.  People blame victims and excuse perpetrators in all kinds of ways.  Like  when they say the victim is too pretty/not pretty enough, or too sexy/not sexually available, or on the street/in their own home/in a friend’s home,  or too dark/too light/too white, or…right.  Like that.  The fact that people may perceive training more women in self-defense as inviting victim blame doesn’t make it victim-blaming, any more than people perceiving a woman in a short skirt as inviting rape means that her short skirt invites rape.  Duh.  Not all women want, or have the opportunity, to learn self-defense, for a variety of reasons.  But that doesn’t mean that self-defense training should be denied to other women.
  4. “Self-defense doesn’t work/escalates violence.”  Well, it does work, in many, many situations, as the data indicate.  And because of that, it rarely makes things worse, despite multiple episodes of Law & Order to the contrary (still available as professional consultants, L&O!)  You don’t have to believe that for it to be true.  Just like evolution and global warming.
  5. “Bystander training is better.”  Better for whom?  (That’s grammatically correct, folks; check it out.)  And that is a fair question.  Bystanders intervening is great, as the Stanford rape case recently demonstrated, and we encourage everyone to act as upstanders and find ways to safely intervene when they witness a sexual assault impending or in progress.  But it’s not better; it’s different, and to be clear, only potentially effective when an assault is public or happened upon.  And to suggest that it’s better is to put forth the belief that those targeted for assault (typically women) are not capable of engaging in active, effective resistance.  You might as well say, “Bystander training is better because women can’t defend themselves, so don’t bother trying or learning how.”    What a terrible, and false, message to propagate.
  6. “Some women training in self-defense puts other women at risk.”  A close cousin to the concern about victim-blaming, this statement reflects two fears.  The first fear is that when a woman defends herself successfully against a rape, that rapist will simply seek out another target.  Not only is their no data to support that belief, but it suggests that women, in protecting themselves, are then responsible for other women being raped.  Hogwash.  And, quite frankly, misogynistic.  The only person responsible for a rape is the rapist.  The second fear is that the women who do not train in self-defense will be blamed for the assault once our culture, led by a bunch of bad-ass women, embrace the empowering self-defense approach.  We don’t want to force all women, or any woman, to train in self-defense; but neither do we want to ignore the benefits of self-defense simply because some women, for a variety of reasons, may not engage in it.  If a small percentage of people are allergic to eggs and thus can’t get the flu shot, should public health officials stop telling people to get their flu shot?  In fact, just like with flu vaccinations, the greater percentage of people who’ve gotten them, the better off everyone is – even those who could not or did not get the flu shot.  Imagine if an entire industry had developed around serving only those who get the flu, rather than taking care of those who had the flu and working tirelessly to defend against the flu virus.  That would be unethical.
  7. “The idea of a woman being able to overpower a man is just…
      Seriously?  Seriously?  In the face of an imminent sexual assault or a rape in progress, the biggest concern shouldn’t be “Does this knee-to-the-groin make my butt look big?”  It doesn’t.  And for those who don’t like it – too bad.  Get over it.

Water Bottle CafePress dot Com

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An Open Letter to Mr. Grey (Bear) of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company

One year later, and it’s just as relevant.  Seriously, Vermont Teddy Bear Company?

Dear Mr. Grey (Bear),

First, I must confess, I haven’t read the book or seen the movie upon which your marketing turns. But I don’t really need to.  I got the gist from the YouTube clip of Ellen Degeneres reading an excerpt, from Dave Barry’s essay about his wife’s reading of it, and from a college student’s paper on the book, which included choice quotes.  You’re simultaneously the object of lust and desire for the women who read your book and thought it was erotica, and you’re the object of scorn and disgust for the women who read your book and thought it was the story of one man’s fantasy of abuse and domination framed as romance.  The dirtier version of Twilight, if you will.

I don’t know how you became a teddy bear, Mr. Grey (Bear), but apparently someone at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company has a keen sense of how to make a dominating misogynist cute.  You have been trotted out as a marketing ploy by a multi-million dollar company.  (How does it feel to be used, Mr. Grey?  Do you want to willingly surrender yourself to the corporate headquarters, in all things?)

I see you everywhere, Mr. Grey (Bear).  It’s like you’re stalking me, which, clearly, is entirely consistent with your modus operandi.  I can’t get you off my Facebook news feed, I hear you advertised on my local radio station when I’m trying to get information about traffic, and you even infiltrated one of my favorite NPR programs as you forced your way into a limerick on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

Your ad haunts me, Mr. Grey (Bear).  I seem to be in a period of my life where I am particularly vulnerable to advertising.  I just bought Fruity Cheerios after seeing that sweet commercial of the little boy going through his breakfast cereal options with his dad (“My favorite kind of Cheerios are the ones I eat with you, Daddy”); I also bought ginger ale after a couple of weeks’ exposure to that Canada Dry commercial where the woman at the barbeque reaches into the cooler and starts pulling the ginger plants from Jack’s Ginger Farm, and I don’t even understand that ad.

But your ad haunts me for a different reason.  You’re a fucking teddy bear, for god’s sake.  How you even came to be considered an appropriate Valentine’s Day gift for adult women is frankly beyond my comprehension.  But a teddy bear who gets his kinks by being sadistic and abusive?  Really?  Am I supposed to be turned on by your satin mask and teeny tiny…handcuffs, or is that supposed to get my kid’s stuffed frog all hot and bothered?  And really, despite all your plushy machismo and smoldering…um…plastic eyes, you know you’re just a puppet, right?  You are merely the pawn of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.  And from what I understand, by your own admission, you’re completely fucked up.  Sexy?  Not so much.

So news flash, Mr. Grey (Bear).  I want you gone – gone from my computer screen, gone from my radio, and for god’s sake, gone from my NPR programs.  I know, that’s not what you’re accustomed to hearing.  But get used to it.  And as for your Dominant – the Vermont Teddy Bear Company – how about a teddy bear that symbolizes women’s empowerment rather than the benefits to men of participating in the rape culture?  Rosie the Rive-bear?  Glori-bear Steinem?   The Bear-zillian Jiu-Jitsu Teddy?  How about Thel-bear and Bear-ouise?  In the meantime, I look forward to hearing how much of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company’s proceeds from your rape-culture-supporting teddy bear self are getting donated to support organizations that fight violence against women or empower women to resist when their partners are controlling and abusive.   I’ll take that as my Valentine’s Day gift.

Oh, and P.S., Mr. Grey (Bear); before you, or the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, or the millions of Fifty Shades of Grey Fans, or the 20-somethings who believe they’ve got a nuanced understanding of the BDSM community, roll your eyes and dismiss this as the uptight vanilla rantings of an over-the-hill feminist, here’s three things to consider: first, members of the BDSM community have already explained how sex depicted in your book violates the accepted standards of mutuality and consent that are explicit in BDSM, so my beef is with abusive relationships, not BDSM; second, if we’re talking about expanding, not constraining, the boundaries on sexuality, then vanilla is as valid a flavor as anything else; and third, and most important, you’re a teddy bear, so if it’s all the same to you, I’ll get my sex ed information from the grown-ups.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Major Article on Self-Defense as Primary Prevention

Eh hem, drumroll please…. Our major article is available here on the Univ of NC repository.  By “major” we mean full-length academic article in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, namely Trauma, Violence, and Abuse.  (Well, ok, by “major” we also mean that it took us a really long time and we kinda hope that Joe B. invites us to the White House to discuss our ideas with his Task Force.)  In this article, we trace the meaning of “prevention” in the sexual assault prevention efforts on college campuses, and question why self-defense training is rarely a part of those efforts.  Given that national attention, and new compliance mandates, have been heaped upon college campuses for their sexual assault problem, we think it’s a key time to review the scholarship on the efficacy of self-defense.  Once you see all that in one place, it’s hard to accept people claiming that they don’t include self-defense in their anti-sexual assault agenda because we lack evidence for its effectiveness, or because it’s not “primary prevention”.  Indeed, we argue that it is gender ideology, not a lack of evidence, that explains the tendency to exclude self-defense from our sexual assault prevention efforts.  Moreover, we stress that self-defense is not secondary prevention but primary prevention as self-defense is a key protective factor in the public health model of rape prevention.  And, because we’re all about solutions, our article ends with specific ways college campuses can incorporate self-defense into various sexual assault prevention efforts.

(Yet Another) Open Letter to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

Dear Members of the Task Force,

On September 17, 2015, you released a Resource Guide to assist college and university communities in their efforts to combat sexual assault on college campuses.  It is an excellent review of what the Center for Disease Control and the White House Task Force have decided, prima facie, constitutes acceptable methods of preventing violence.  Those include talking about healthy relationships, encouraging people to act as engaged and responsible bystanders, and shifting social norms around gender, sexuality and violence.  And, when that it is all that you include in your definition of sexual violence prevention strategies, you rightly conclude that not much works.

You, and the CDC, and many other well-intentioned agencies and organizations, continue to systematically exclude self-defense training as a viable and acceptable method of sexual violence prevention, despite decades of evidence on the effectiveness of women’s self-defense in thwarting sexual assault, and despite the more recent evidence in the last ten years on the positive benefits of self-defense training, including the effectiveness of self-defense training in reducing future rates of sexual assault.

The data is available.  The problem is your definition of what constitutes prevention.

Women are capable of engaging in powerful and effective resistance strategies, both physical and verbal, to thwart rape and sexual assault, and offering them the opportunities to learn and practice those skills via self-defense training is a method of primary prevention completely in line with the CDC’s stated definition, and entirely consistent with the strategies and methods they have chosen to include.

And yet you, and they, continue to exclude it.

There are many things about women’s use of and training in self-defense that people don’t like.  It is not that it doesn’t work, because the data say it usually does.  We can’t dismiss it outright as inconsistent with the definition and goals of “primary prevention”, because, as we have pointed out, self-defense IS primary prevention.

So we’re left with facing the ways that women’s training to defend themselves shifts norms around gender, sexuality, and violence.  That is does so, we are left to conclude, is why people don’t like it.  It’s much more compatible with current gender ideology to suggest women wait for some person or institution to save or protect them.  Ironically, the Task Force also suggests we engage efforts to shift social norms around gender, sexuality and violence.  Let’s do that.  If you’re not going to, then may we suggest the following revision to your statements:

How to Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus:


• Train Bystanders to Intervene to Stop an Assault on Someone Else (JUST DON’T LET WOMEN KNOW THAT THEY COULD SERVE AS THEIR OWN INTERVENING BYSTANDERS!)

• Use Evidence-Based Methods for Sexual Assault Prevention (EXCEPT THE EVIDENCE THAT SELF-DEFENSE USUALLY WORKS!)


On January 22, 2014, President Obama said:

Perhaps most important, we need to keep saying to anyone out there who has ever been assaulted: you are not alone.  We have your back. I’ve got your back.

If you’ve really got the backs of sexual assault survivors, and truly want to support effective methods of sexual assault prevention, you cannot continue to ignore self-defense training as an important, effective, and valid method.  Provide the resources and support for women to be their own bystanders.

Picture Yourself Rotating THESE in Space

Remember those images of shapes broken up into little square boxes, and the multiple choice test asking you to picture the same shape rotated differently?  Mental Rotation TaskSuch spatial reasoning is a stereotypically male skill.  Well, a study out of the University of Berlin shows that women who were asked to imagine themselves having stereotypically masculine personality traits–strength, risk taking, assertiveness, and the like–performed as well as male peers on the spacial reasoning test immediately following this picture-yourself-as exercise, while women who were asked to imagine themselves having stereotypically feminine personality traits–agreeableness, caring for others, etc.–performed much lower than male peers on the special reasoning test right afterward.

“Gender priming” influenced women’s performance, big time.

This reminds us that allowing women to imagine themselves with the assertiveness and entitlement to fight back against an assailant can make an appreciable difference in their actual ability.  If you can picture testicles rotated in space, you might be more likely to be able to actually rotate them in space if a guy you’re with won’t take no for an answer.

Wonder Woman – did you hear…?

wonder woman

Dear Wonder Woman,

In light of the recent news story, and given that we do not know the degree to which you are tapped into the media buzz (although we did see you on Facebook), we are reaching out to you.  Did you know there is a story in the news that your image has been banned at one elementary school (name and location are being withheld to protect the ridiculous); this in response to a young girl who brought in a Wonder Woman lunch box, which was considered to depict, and we quote, a ”violent image”, because as a super hero, you, and we quote again, “solve problems using violence”.

Care to comment?

The Janes

Dear Janes,

WTF?  Don’t quote me on that – as it’s probably “too violent”.  But seriously, WTF?  I’m a superhero.  I fight evil – and, I might add, I do a damn good job of it.  How am I supposed to do that, with smiles and unicorns?  With polite requests for changes in behavior?  How’s this:  “That’s just not nice.  Please, please, stop your evil ways?”  Should I shed a few tears while I’m at it?  That’s not fighting evil – that’s offering a label, begging for change, and then hoping for the best.  No way.  Being a female superhero is hard enough without having to deal with this.

WW, a.k.a. Dub-Dub


We feel your pain.  And definitely don’t beg – the data tell us that strategies like that are not effective in resisting violence.  We, like you, are tired of people saying that active resistance is bad, and particularly, bad when women do it.  We think you’re a role model – we want more, not fewer, girls and women to follow your example, and know that they have the right to resist.  Buying your lunch box right now on Amazon.

The Janes

On that note, Janes, what problems do they think I’m “solving” with violence?  Disagreements on what to have for dinner?  Not getting the job I wanted?  Algebra?  When we frame evil-doers intent on world domination as a just any “problem to be solved”, it’s no wonder that everyone gets confused.  I match my tactics to the situation at hand.  Read my bio – sure, I can fight, and I do when I need to, and I’m not apologizing for that.  But that would only be my first strategy if I was physically threatened and that response was appropriate.  Duh.  I’m wicked smart, and I’ve got excellent verbal skills – both of which are incredibly useful in, as that school system might say, “solving problems”.  As for weapons, I’ve got a lasso of truth and bracelets that deflect bullets.  If that’s solving a problem with violence, guilty as charged.


PS.  Besides, are my boys Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Superman, the Hulk, and Captain America being banned as too violent? Not that I am suggesting they should be.  More likely, not only are they not being banned, they are probably making more money than I am.

ww misogyny

What You Really Need to Know About the Freshman 15

As September approaches, young people gearing up for college are inundated with information about freshman year – what NOT to buy for your college dorm room, tips for getting along with your new roomie, how to/why you’ll love freshman year, how to drink at college parties, and of course, the Freshman 15.

Now, all the data tells us that the Freshman 15 is a myth – the average weight gain for students is around 3 lbs (the same as for non-students of the same age), but the problem of sexual assault is not a myth.  So we here at SJFB are shamelessly co-opting the phrase “Freshman 15” to give you the top 15 things you actually need to know as college students, first year and otherwise:

  1. You get to decide what you do with your own body. That’s right – whether it’s what you eat or who you’re with and what you do, that choice is yours, and yours alone, as long as you’re not deciding something for someone else’s body in the process.
  2. Trust your gut. Take the time to learn how you feel, and pay attention to it.  If something, or someone, doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not, and you get to leave any situation or person that doesn’t feel right for you.  As they say, there are plenty of fish in the sea (or…carrots in the field, for the vegetarian/vegan crowd…)
  3. See the options around you. Good advice for anywhere on campus, not just the cafeteria.  Take the time to survey who and what is around you, and if something – or someone – isn’t working for you, know that you can choose a different option, whether that is where to live, where to socialize, or who you are spending time with.
  4. Get the facts. Even in college, and even about sexual assault, misinformation abounds.  Don’t rely on what’s right in front of you – whether in conversation with friends, a statement by a professor, or a sign on the door in the bathroom stall.   Fact:  fighting back can be extremely effective in thwarting an assault – it’s a right you have, and a choice you can make if it feels right to you.
  5. Tweak your lifestyle. –  For the better!  Make choices (not just food!) that are good for you, and surround yourself with people who are interested in what you want for yourself, not just what they want from you.
  6. Swap your go-to order. Old habits die hard, and we often go with what feels familiar, rather than what feels safe and healthy.  If what you’ve done before doesn’t feel good now, try something new.
  7. Skip the stupid aisle. Okay, in the diet magazines, they will you to “skip the salty aisle”, but we like this better. College – like life – is too short to waste with stupid people, and by that, we mean people who are interested in bringing you down to their level.  Trust us – there are better aisles out there.
  8. Do a purge. One nice thing about college is that you get to leave high school (and middle school) behind you.   We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and we will make them in the future.  Don’t let them define you – a figurative purge allows you to let those go, and move forward in the direction you want.
  9. Healthy up your happy hour. As we’ve said before, alcohol is complicated.  The connection between alcohol and assault on college campuses is well-documented, which in no way means that drinking or being intoxicated makes a person assault someone else, or makes a person responsible if someone assaults them.  Know, whether or not you choose to drink, that it is important to know your limits and the risks associated with alcohol use.
  10. Pile on the boundaries. You get to “no” to things you don’t want, without disclaimer, explanation, or apology.  As scholars who write for a living, we are here to remind you that “No” is a complete sentence.  (And remember – what’s posted on-line STAYS on-line.  Err on the side of caution.)
  11. Show some restraint when appropriate. Whether in person or on social media, remember that you are not obligated to please others at the expense of your own happiness and well-being.
  12. Get off the couch. Staying physically active in college is a great way to manage stress and manage your moods.  Stay focused on exercise that makes you feel better—not whether it makes you look better.
  13. Know what you stand for. Notice injustice and oppression in your environment – your own personal space, and the world at large – and decide how you can respond to it safely.  Being in college is just like being in any other community: there will be conflicts, tragedies, and triumphs.  And what kind of community member you choose to be will help shape what that community becomes.  Part of a group or club doing something deplorable?  Take a stand—change it, report it, leave it.
  14. It’s always okay to ask for help. Whether it’s help with your writing skills, with depression or anxiety, or in a situation that feels unsafe, ask for what you need.  You may be living on your own, but you’re not an island.  College campuses have more resources than ever to support your well-being and your academic success.  Know the resources out there, and don’t be afraid to use them.
  15. Get fired up. Take the time to get to know yourself, and then go for it, full steam ahead.  Know what you want – and don’t want – and keep your eye on the prize. You’re in college to be an academic rock star and pursue your dreams.  College is about making your future, so evaluate every option or course of action based on whether it will help, or hinder, achieving your goals.  Believe in yourself.  We believe in you.

It’s time for another lesson from the University of the Bleeding Obvious.

Back when Miss USA, Nia Sanchez (we love you, Nia, even if you won’t return our phone calls), said that to combat the problem of sexual assault on college campuses more women should be offered the opportunity of self-defense training, feminist-identified pundits with access to HuffPo interviews flipped out.  The concerns varied: some said that recommending self-defense training is putting the onus on women (rather than men) to prevent rape; others argue that self-defense training wouldn’t work because the likely perpetrator is someone known to the victim, and that’s not the “mind-set” for self-defense.

But the real head scratchers were those who rejected self-defense training on the grounds that it ran counter to feminine socialization.  They understood that the fact girls and women are trained to subordinate their interests to boys and men, and that this feminine socialization interferes with defending themselves.  Indeed, self-defense training is all about NOT subordinating your interests to men and boys.  So opposing the recommendation to offer women self-defense training on these grounds (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/11/miss-usa-self-defense_n_5482117.html) seems to presume that we self-defense teachers and advocates do not understand this.  What do they think, that self-defense teachers just show women a punching bag, offer them some chewing tobacco, and say “have at it”?

Let’s offer those most likely to be targeted for sexual assault the skills to intervene on their own behalf.  Yes, for many of these people, and women in particular, such skills will contradict their socialization into femininity.   Self-defense training is a kinesthetic experience that rattles the feminine training so tragically well suited to rape culture.  That’s exactly what we like about it and why it’s so transformative beyond the individual women it helps.

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