Women must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself. – Susan B. Anthony, July 1871
This is something that I found awhile back, and it struck a chord in me.
For some reason, women just aren’t taught the basics of self-defense anymore. We simply expect the police to protect us, and SURELY nothing bad will ever happen to us. When I was a kid, I was told to carry a whistle and scream fire (because no one responds to “HELP” anymore), and the nice policemen would come to my rescue every time. I honestly believed this until I was attacked in my own backyard. No one came to my rescue…and it was a huge slap in the face to everything I believed until that point. It planted the seed that eventually grew into my ownership of first knives, then a firearm.
It makes me wonder, though, why women are (with occasional exceptions) generally reluctant to protect themselves. Is it because we’re so reliant on the men in our lives? Every time the discussion of self defense is brought up outside the gun-friendly circles, women usually say “I just want to take a women’s self-defense class, and maybe carry pepper spray.” Pepper spray is useless unless one knows how to use it…and even then, there’s a good chance pepper spray will only enrage an attacker further, rather than disarm them. I can say with absolute certainty that basic self-defense classes geared toward women is NOT the best idea. They show very limited methods of defending oneself – it’s usually a one-day class, and they teach things men have learned to avoid/defend against since childhood. These classes give no opportunity to practice skills learned, so they’re generally forgotten quickly. Effective defense techniques develop over time, not in one day.
Jennifer posted an article this week that reinforces where we’ve gone wrong. In Oklahoma City, a woman was attacked IN A PUBLIC HOTEL BATHROOM. That it happened is horrible, but we discover that she opted not to carry any form of protection on her person. She relied on someone else hearing her screams to come and save her. As this proves, relying on other people just plain doesn’t work. He raped her and got away (only to be caught later, though he has not yet been charged…). If she had at least had proper training on how to get out of that situation, she may have saved herself the trauma and anguish of being raped.
Now, I know the majority of my readers are gun-friendly. Many of you have the right to carry in your home state and choose to take advantage of that right. I applaud you for this. Carrying a knife is another valid option in many areas (but not all…check local laws). If you can carry some sort of weapon, please do so. Get proper training, get comfortable with your weapon of choice, and carry it at all times. It might mean the difference between life and death, and I’d like to see you living, thanks.
That said, I also recognize there are people reading this blog who are either not friendly toward weapons or live in areas where it’s not legal to carry any sort of gun or blade. I know some of you assume you live in a safe area or that your husband/boyfriend/friends will be there to help you out of a bad situation, but this isn’t the right way to look at it. Personal responsibility is key here – you have to be able to take care of yourself. When I was attacked, I lived in a great neighborhood. As I found out firsthand, there can be a criminal element anywhere people choose to live. You need to be able to rely on yourself to survive if a situation threatens your safety and no one else is around. Throwing a punch without any real strength behind it, scratching someone in the face, or screaming at the top of your lungs just plain isn’t going to cut it. Your attacker WILL overpower you, and people WILL ignore your screams. It’s become commonplace to avoid conflict, even if someone is obviously getting hurt.
Chris started to teach me to Box, and it showed me that most people don’t know how to fight. In just one session I learned the difference between “self protection” and actually knocking an attacker off guard. It was enlightening, but I only learned a basic punch. I will need many more lessons to be effective. It reinforced the ineffectiveness of those “self defense” classes – it’s been a few weeks, and I haven’t really practiced. I think I remember what Chris showed me. I need more time in the gloves to really commit what he showed me to memory…and a lot more time for it to become instinctual. I realized there’s so much more to defending oneself; how to evade a hit, learning balance points and basic body mechanics, and learning how to use one’s body as a tool are all important to the success of defending oneself in an altercation. Poking someone in the eyes MAY work, but only if the potential victim has the use of her hands AND if the attacker is inept and off his guard. Throwing a punch PROPERLY – involving the techniques I just listed – gives the victim a far better chance of getting away.
Please, ladies…do this for you. Protect yourself from harm. As that article shows, danger doesn’t just stick to the bad parts of town – it will show up where you least expect it, and usually when no one else can or will help you.