“Prevention” is a word thrown around a lot in regards to self-defense. I really don’t like using it when I teach a class. Most prevention advice delves into ridiculous victim blame and only encourages females to feel fear. The advice goes something like this:
“Don’t flirt too much, don’t wear revealing clothing at a party and don’t go out at night alone or if you do, don’t drink, but if you are drinking watch you drink closely, don’t accept drinks from anybody and never leave your girlfriends and never go home with anybody because if you do, it’s your fault for leading them on.”
The real prevention we need to teach is not about being afraid of doing what you want and rarely is it about changing your own habits; it’s about awareness.
Women are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, a romantic partner, a stalker or coworker. So how can we create safer spaces? By being aware of those around us whether they are close friends or casual acquaintances, both male and female.
- Pay close attention to how friends treat you AND others.
- Are they condescending toward you?
- Do they ask or bully you to do things you don’t want?
- Do YOU force yourself to change around them so they like you?
- Do they mock feminism or often joke about women being the weaker sex?
- Do they insist that rape culture doesn’t exist or that women really should “be careful what they wear or drink”?
- Do they refuse to acknowledge media objectification of women and find these images “good” entertainment?
Being aware allows us to learn to trust our intuition and as we do so allow our true self to shine through. Because once we are aware of what we’ve learned to ignore and how often we blame ourselves we become stronger.
Sexism fuels violence against women. It gets worse every time we pretend hurtful words are okay and make excuses like, “Boys will be boys”. Our culture enforces many ideas about women being less than men. In this sphere is the idea that we are at fault for being assaulted or raped. It’s pushed forward by those with agendas, fundamental religious dogma and advertising agencies. So much of prevention is dependent upon who surrounds us. It’s what we put up with, what we expect from others and whether or not we are willing to speak up, say no and not put up with ideas and stereotypes that feed this harmful vision of women as less than men.
The other side of prevention, and the most powerful of course will be teaching men and boys how to become aware of how they treat women and girls. No matter how much women work to create change it’s critical that our males change evolve as well.
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When teaching self-defense I always stress the importance of striking vital points! If you gouge the eyes they can’t see where you move next, if you dig your nails into their ears and yank down they suffer tremendous pain, if you punch the solar plexus their breath is taken away and if you “pick the peaches” (grab, twist and pull on the testes) you can bring them to their knees giving you a chance to run for help and call the police. Read more Self-Defense Articles on this blog.
Be aware, don’t live in fear.
I’m a certified self-defense instructor and encourage all women and girls to know their lives are important. You can learn more on the SELF-DEFENSE page. Please share this with your friends. Together we can create safer spaces.
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