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By Susanna on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

@Miss_T These include many of the reasons why I chose KM. I have a connective tissue disorder and cannot do judo/boxing type training. I also wanted something that felt instinctive and didn't require months or even years of training.

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 2:36 pm 1

By Onymous on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

@Miss_T
There was a reason I prefaced it with "kinda thread jack-y" which I probably should have been a bit more specific about. I was talking about Martial Arts as a hobby/exercise/ with a side motive of being able to fight -as distinct from- something specifically for self defense, which no martial art will teach in a reality-applicable-manner the short term anyway. Self Defense is/should be a different curriculum.

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm 1

By peasofmind on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

@Miss_T

I mean, I sympathize with the plight of the self-defense instructor who can't talk about what she does and all its positive aspects without being called a victim-blamer and/or rape apologist. I think that's ridiculous. But I don't think the vitriol is really being directed at self-defense classes and instructors. It's a response to the conspicuous lack of other responses to the issue of rape. It's a response to the use of self-defense classes as justification for not talking about ways to prevent sexual violence in the first place.

And I really don't think it's that hard to talk about things other than self-defense when the context is sexual assault. It's not the responsibility of the self-defense instructor, but it is the responsibility of the people and the venues for discussion, if they're going to talk about violence prevention and solutions to rape culture.

It's inarguable that women's self-defense classes are used as a tool of rape culture to reframe discussions about sexual violence as something that's a given, as something that women bear the burden of preventing and the blame when it does occur. That's not the fault of self-defense classes, but it is a reality. I think the minor inconvenience of being careful when we talk about the benefits of self-defense is worth not contributing to rape culture.

I also think it's just a liiiiiittle bit disingenuous to take tweets as really representative of the criticism of the self-defense discussion. Twitter is not exactly a great medium for conveying nuanced ideas with clarity.

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 2:02 pm 1

By Miss_T on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

@Onymous

Must respectfully disagree with you here. I don't really have an opinion re: the merits of Krav Maga, but the rest of your comments aren't really accurate in terms of teaching short-term, empowerment-based self-defense to women. Just a few reasons why:

* "Sparring at full resistance/force" may be a great way to learn to box for those who want to do so, but it's a myth that that is required to learn to defend oneself.

* Full-contact sparring will put many people off entering a school entirely, and as I learned from my teacher, we don't learn best from being frightened and/or hurt. At the very least, full-force is not the *only* way to learn.

* Women's bodies are different from men's. Techniques that men may be more likely to choose, e.g. pitting strength vs. strength, are not necessarily going to be the best choice for a woman, especially one with limited training. They may not even be relevant to her situation at all, e.g. she is unlikely to encounter an attacker who wants to box with her. This does NOT mean there's nothing she can do to defend herself.

* Proficiency in boxing and judo takes years. It's important to be able to provide training that does not require any particular athleticism, nor years of commitment to be effective.

* Full-force sparring can be intimidating and triggering for survivors of violence, and it's wrong to indicate to them that that is the ONLY way to learn how to fight.

* Lastly, with many women, half the battle is emotional and psychological; we lack the sense that we're entitled to take care of ourselves, the daily visual/verbal/physical assertiveness skills to express that entitlement, and the belief that we'll be successful if we try. Self-defense training that just focuses on fighting techniques but ignores this crucial element is what gives SD a bad name.

Again, I say this with respect because I know your comment was well-intended, and because I'm a big fan of martial arts training. The author of this article gives links to loads of research informing a different approach to women's self defense -- interesting to read if you're so inclined.

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm 2

By Onymous on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

@Susanna
This is gonna be a little thread jack-y but:
On a martial arts note- don't trust Krav Maga, there's a solid fighting system in there but a lot of the Krav Maga that gets taught is basically nonsense perpetuated by ISD fetishists.

Boxing and Judo are probably the most reliably bullshit free martial arts you can learn because they're international sports and so have relatively standardized coaching and curricula. Judo particularly is great because in the event that you get arrested for fucking somebody up 'My Client tripped him and he fell poorly' is a lot easier for a public defender to argue as self defense. Plus stats show most fight go to the ground really quickly so a wrestling discipline is a good idea.

That said if you can't find or just don't want to do Boxing or Judo the most important thing to look for in a school is whether they spar at full resistance/force, if they only spar against compliant partners: leave; it will not teach and/or prepare you to fight.

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 1:11 pm 4

By Susanna on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense

I travelled solo in Mongolia and China last year, so I took a half day krav maga course with a friend who had been assaulted on the metro a few weeks earlier during commuting time (no one came to her aid. They just sat and watched as a guy knocked her down and choked her.)

We had wicked fun. It was only a beginning – it's hard to overcome the reserve about really hitting back and you need serious muscle memory for many moves – but it WAS empowering. And the dirtiest fighting imaginable. I've been recommending it to all the women I know.

Every time I read Everyday Sexism's feed I wish that girls were all taught something like ESD or krav maga. Just something to make them feel less threatened. Yes, I know it's not just girls who get assaulted, but still. Thanks for this and your work.

Posted on January 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm 5

By chickpeas akimbo on 30 Minutes with Christina Angela

@mollpants "Sex workers and prostitutes are used way too often as navel-gazing devices for essay writers and society at large - we really don't need another piece that uses them as literary metaphors to make a point."

Yes. Thank you. This is what bugged me about this piece. It's beautifully written and I do think that the author approached Christina/Angela with compassion, but like... maybe this woman's life isn't just a device to throw the author's story into sharper relief. And yeah, because she's a sex worker, it bugs me more than it would if she were just, I don't know, a girl he met at a bar.

Posted on November 12, 2013 at 10:53 am 3

By mollpants on 30 Minutes with Christina Angela

@LunaLunaLunaMoth @LunaLunaLunaMoth I don't have a problem with her English at all. That's not what I'm saying. What I have a problem with is the author's choice to portray this woman's thoughts through his own lens and his own perspective, without bringing in a third party to try and bridge the language gap to gain a deeper understanding of what Christina/Angela is saying on a more nuanced level, and/or by writing out the "pidgin" version of their conversation. (In an English-language written piece, especially a narrative like this one, the person "speaking" in broken English is inevitably going to come out sounding like the less eloquent/intelligent speaker.)

I work at an organization that deals pretty heavily with human trafficking/sex trafficking, and I spend a lot of my time handling media portrayals and cultural biases surrounding trafficked women, sex workers, and the gray areas in between these two extremes. It's true that women like Christina/Angela don't tend to write essays for the Hairpin - but that's all the more reason to give them appropriate platforms for when their voices do make it onto sites like these. Sex workers and prostitutes are used way too often as navel-gazing devices for essay writers and society at large - we really don't need another piece that uses them as literary metaphors to make a point.

For what it's worth, I really did think the prose was lovely, their interaction at the end was nice, and if this was done just a little bit differently I would be a lot more comfortable.

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm 13

By Anne Helen Petersen on Remembering Lilith: Fiona Apple

@anachronistique lady CLEARLY this is a safe space for all of the Fiona Feelings

Posted on August 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm 3

By anachronistique on Remembering Lilith: Fiona Apple

I cried when I finally got to see Fiona Apple perform last year, and I'm maybe crying a little now. I think even though I've loved other artists more loudly Fiona is the one whose music has always resonated the most deeply in my bones.

oh god SOMEONE MAKE ME STOP TYPING what a fetching octopus hat she has there

Posted on August 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm 4