We had Lauren from Defend Yourself discuss self-defense and model self-defense moves that you can use for street harassment. The result was a group of six young women excited to put the moves and theories to play. Side note: please make a 2010 resolution to take a class with Lauren. She is amazing!
Emily wrote thoughts about self-defense:
Before reading the information on the website [DefendYourself.org], I wasn’t really sure what self defense was. I figured it was simply physical skills one could use to defend themselves from threatening situations. I wasn’t fully aware that self defense encompassed mental and emotional training as well. I realize, now, that self defense is being able to set boundaries, and being able to stand up for oneself. Being able to simply tell a harasser to stop saying degrading things is a form of self defense.
I feel as if women are hesitant to use self defense. The whole notion of women standing up for themselves can be viewed, oftentimes, as too aggressive. The way women are conditioned, they are almost more likely to shy away from such behavior in order to blend better into society. For instance, no one will really be called to a woman passively walking by a street harasser, whereas, more attention will be given to a woman who reprimands that same harasser. Just as in the blog post’s “How Do You Respond” comment by Cathy there seems to be the same passive choices, as described via her wife. She describes it as a “don’t feed the bully” approach. The way I view that behavior, is that it is a mix of a lack of confidence and the ongoing impression of a submissive female culture. Women in today’s society are so focused on being ‘polite’ and ‘feminine’ that they oftentimes overlook opportunities to stand up for themselves…In the same post “How Do You Respond” an anonymous source states that she normally defaults to being polite and just ignoring the situation.
…I too can relate. I was always raised to show no reaction. Being polite and just walking away were my ingrained responses. As time went on, however, I began to truly understand how being passive was detrimental. I feel as if I would be able to demonstrate self defense. After reading all of the success stories, and truly understanding how wrong it is, I don’t think I would be able to handle it. Since being involved in Holla Back DC!, I have been demonstrating more confidence when walking down the street. Just the other night I actually responded to a harasser, and it worked. That is something, I know I personally would not have felt comfortable doing before. Using self defense I feel is something of utmost importance. If I don’t stand up for myself, who will? I feel that women should be educated on the true harm that can come from just the initial ‘catcall’. I feel if more women were educated on the importance of self defense, verbally and physically, there would be less occurrences.
…If women start reacting in a positive way (i.e., self defense) then men would be less likely to say something. The more of a ‘norm’ it becomes, the less frequency there would be to even use it. Men would eventually be able to see the potential consequences and be able to see that what they’re doing is truly wrong. Some may view the increase in self defense as leading to a negative reaction among men. The thought process would be that men would feel threatened and begin to harass more. I disagree with this comment, however, due to long run effects. The presence of strong women would probably initially lead to some confusion among harassers and a mixed concept of harassment. Over time, however, the confusion felt would lead into social acceptance and a change in behaviors…