I was sent the following link by a friend who asked me what I thought of the article.
When I saw the line in the link “Self defense blame victims” to be honest, I threw up a little bit. But I went ahead and read the article, dumber though it made me, and I am posting my thoughts and response here.
The article starts off with an inflammatory statement. There is an undertone of anger directed at…I can only assume males.
“Women and girls get tons of advice on how to “protect” ourselves, and whether we follow the advice or not, we’re blamed for our own assaults.”
The statement is ludicrous! In my life in the martial arts, self-defense as well as being a male human – I have never heard anyone blame a woman or girl if she was assaulted.
The follow up goes on to claim that people are starting to push back against these “victim-blaming” messages. She then goes on to say society is now putting the responsibility for the crime on the person who committed it.
Well, that seems to be what has been going on all along, blaming criminals for crimes.
So, right from the start I see a clinging to an old method of:
1. Claim something about the other side of a debate that is not true.
2. Attack the position that you just fabricated about them.
3. Continue attacking.
4. Offer your counter position to the position that the other side doesn’t really have.
There is that lengthy section reminding us that “self-defense is victim blaming”. It isn’t, but the author made the claim offered supposed evidence and moves on as if the case is closed.
About that evidence; when self-defense instructors teach people important ideas like: “Don’t leave your drink unsupervised” (I use “unattended”, when I teach this but that is probably even worse victim blaming…we ALL know that “unattended” makes it more your fault than if you had merely left the drink “unsupervised”), we are giving what should be a common sense bit of advice. There are bad people out there who will put bad things in your drink if you are not paying attention. Keeping an eye on your drink is a simple step you can take to make yourself a bit safer than you could be otherwise. The author included “Don’t park next to a van”. I’ve never used that line because I believe a woman should be allowed to park where she wants and not have her life limited by NOT being allowed to park near a van.
Oh wait…sarcasm isn’t appreciated in this subject. Sorry.
The truth is, I do suggest extra caution if you come out and find a van beside where you parked. Extra caution is called for. And maybe I have suggested not parking by a van. Is it really so wrong to offer steps and practices that can increase personal safety? Have I really spent all of these years reinforcing victim blaming and rape culture (as is claimed by the author)? Awareness of one’s surroundings is impossible (as is claimed by the author)? Really!?!?!
Nothing I teach in my personal safety (self defense) classes is about “restricting a woman’s access to the public sphere and controlling behavior”.
It is about preventing victimization.
Every person that I train becomes better armed to stay safe, and that equals one less victim and is one small step closer to a day when self-defense instructors need to close up shop because we are no longer needed. No more victims means no more need for us.
That is a big secret. They make more money in treating you afterwards, when you are already a victim. There is more money in outrage after-the-fact than there is in prevention. There is more press, more attention, more donations, and…more victims. That helps keep them in business because it isn’t about stopping the crime, and this becomes especially clear when the steps to take in preventing the crime are held up and demonized and labeled as being something almost as bad as the crime itself. Their agenda isn’t about prevention; it is about feeding your emotions and getting your mindset in the victim mentality. It is about feeding that fire and that anger, and broadening the definition of victim until you are a victim because you are female and broadening the definition of rapist until you feel comfortable using the line “all men are potential rapists.”
The most glaring point that tells me that this claim of Victim Blaming is a lie is this: When I teach classes to parents on protecting their child from a pedophile, classes that include steps like altering schedules so that the child is never alone with an adult and avoiding certain situation and being aware and trusting your gut – I am told by those parents that I am a hero. They can now see the need to take extra precaution. They see this because of the serious damage cause by such a heinous crime. And they tell me that any steps necessary to prevent their child from becoming a victim will be taken. Contrast that to a class on self-defense for women, and here we go again…Victim Blaming.
Soon enough the article brings up the ignorant “teach men not to rape”.
I have gone over this before, but sometimes things must be repeated. Saying “teach men not to rape” suggests that society currently teaches men to rape. This is a manipulation and designed to speak to emotion, not logic.
In spite of the hype, not all men are potential rapists. As a matter of precaution, a woman could take the view that all men are potential rapists, but such a view would be grossly exaggerated and probably more than a little unhealthy. There is a mental factor that a rapist has that is not normal. Not all men have it. I know it easy for a victim to lash out at all men, but it isn’t correct or necessary. And it certainly is not an attitude that should be promoted by someone claiming to be there to help victims.
The author next discusses putting the blame back on the attacker, once again ignoring the fact that the blame was already on the attacker. No amount of outrage and righteous indignation will change that.
Of course, the underlying theme of the article is a sales pitch to participate in the self-defense classes that the author claims teach empowerment and have toolkit of information that does not include advice or judgment.
Of course, I have yet to run into a self defense coach yet who judges his/her students as is suggested in the article, but that apparently doesn’t matter. The selling point needs to be made, valid or not.
The last thing from the article I want to address is the asinine, inflammatory comment made near the end, “Though very few men rape, all men benefit from the power and privilege it enforces.”
I cannot wrap my brain around the intent behind such nonsense.
The facts are really simple. When I teach self defense and personal safety it is with the singular goal of helping people be safe. One cannot even claim the ulterior motive of making money because I have done many more classes free of charge than those that I did for money. And in those classes I taught for money, I often did at-cost. There is no sinister thought of oppressing women, or reinforcing a rape-culture. It disgusts me that the work I do is so viciously misrepresented by people who promote this kind of garbage.
I will step down off of the soapbox now.