Why must we as women not trust our bodies? From a young age we are told we will never run as fast, be as strong, or as tough as males. We are weak and soft. What they are really saying is that when we are as fast, as strong, and as tough we scare them and in their eyes we are unattractive – no longer women. Whipcord muscles, six packs, scars, and power are not feminine and therefore are revolting. Masculinized women are ugly (ewww gross).
Muscles and strength are not masculine. They are life. All mammals have muscles, some more than others, and we all have strength.
I am tired of hearing women explain to me the best way to hold my house keys between my fingers. That is dangerous. You can slice your own hand open or break your fingers. If you want to use your keys as a weapon there is a handle you can attach to your keys to turn them into an impromptu flail (http://www.karatedepot.com/ot-ke-20.html). You hold the handle and whip your keys. A family friend gave my sister one of these and helped her learn how to use it. He made her practice every time she came over to babysit his kids because it is imperative that you practice. It is the same with mace and pepper spray. You cannot just use theory and common sense, although common sense and desperation will serve you well. You have to know how to hold your weapon, you have to be prepared to use it, and you have to know the nuances.
I am not going to tell a women they don’t need mace or pepper spray, and I am not going to say that having a weapon is bad because I don’t have any data or statistics on this. What I will say is this: your body is enough of a weapon, you just need to know how to use it and you have to be unafraid to protect yourself.
The first part is actually the easiest. There are thousands of dojos and other places that teach karate. I don’t have anything against women’s self-defense classes except that some of them don’t teach you anything and some (most notably my alma mater’s class) are meant to humor women’s fears and give them false confidence because “these women don’t really want to learn self-defense, they just want an easy A.” Karate is what you want. I am a blue belt in Kenpo Jutsu Karate and I got that with almost 2 years of intense dedication and application.
Learning how to break holds, how to kick and punch properly, and do physical damage is not hard. It requires dedication, sweat, and pain; but if you want it, it’s easy enough. What is hard is being able to implement that training, to fight back when the time comes. If you train enough it will become muscle memory, but as women I believe we have an extra handicap in that we are socialized not to hurt people.
In an ideal world everyone would be socialized not to hurt people, but as the world is now it is dangerous how reluctant women are about defending themselves. We are taught to stand up for others, to protect everyone else, and we are alienated from our bodies. We don’t live comfortably in our own skins because we have to dress up our bodies, paint our faces, and perfect our hair. Our bodies are constantly critiqued, evaluated, deemed unfit and forcibly changed, or deemed fit and assaulted.
You are worth fighting for as you are right now, without having to be changed.
Fight for yourself because there might not be someone there to fight for you. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, not just in physical confrontations, but in everyday life. Wear the clothes you like, read the books you want to, watch the TV shows and sports you love and play the sports and games you are passionate about. Don’t listen to what other people say you can and cannot do or like.
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4 Comments Add yours
Love this Post! Thanks so much for posting!
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it. I was actually a little worried about the reception of this post. It is something I do feel very strongly about.
” If you train enough it will become muscle memory, but as women I believe we have an extra handicap in that we are socialized not to hurt people.”
Indeed, we are. This needs to change. We need to be socialized to stand up for ourselves. It is not a safe world to live in believing it is not okay to hurt people.
I had a man follow me into a mall bathroom once. Believe me, I cared far more about my own safety and comfort than his. All the wondering if I could actually harm someone who broke into my house, etc etc etc, as one of the scenarios we females contemplate, came crashing in. Hell, yes. I could. I would. I hope he never gets the chance to do this to another woman.
I am so glad that you are okay, that must have been a terrifying experience. I find that I am much better at standing up and protecting other people than I have ever been for myself. When I used to spar I would hold back because I was worried about hurting my partner or being hurt myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a new dojo where I can continue to learn, it’s just hard in NYC everything is so expensive.