A lot is made in modern media these days about the preponderance of sexual assaults against women. It’s a very disturbing problem that has an undeniably simple solution: Men have to learn to respect boundaries and if they can’t do that, they have to face dire consequences.
No person has the right to violate the sovereignty of another’s person.
Having said that, the harsh reality of assault runs counter to the narrative around responsibility. At the end of the day, someone intent on sexualizing and depersonalizing a woman will persist in doing so unless stopped. Differentials in size, strength and aggression make this all too easy for most men. The perception of entitlement and power, along with undercurrents of misogyny, give the assaulter a moral and cognitive justification for his actions (at least in his mind).
The police can’t stop him; they aren’t there at the critical moment. Husbands, friends, brothers, boyfriends and all of the decent males in the lives of women who have or will endure assaults – they can’t do anything. They’re not there at the critical moment. The only person that can stop an attempted assault is the woman targeted. Sorry folks. Time and space win out over moralizing arguments every time. Time and space cannot be argued the way that motive, intent and opportunity can.
Here’s where we have to draw a critical distinction between blame and responsibility.
The blame for rape ALWAYS falls on the rapist.
The responsibility for self-protection falls to each person, regardless of gender or circumstance.
Only you can defend you, because only you are always with you. Time and space.
As much as education, prevention and laws are the preferable routes to eliminate assaults on women, they will never be as effective as a confident woman motivated to stop her attacker cold through a ruthless commitment to her own dignity.
In that regard, I feel quite strongly that all women should learn basic self defense, if for no other reason than to understand how predatory men think, and perceive the danger before it develops. In the worst case, they’re also equipped with devastating physical deterrence strategies proven to keep them safe.
In next week’s video blog, I am going to address three popular (bullshit) ideas around women’s self defense “techniques”. By the end of it, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t, and why.