Good god. I think it's safe to say most of us have dealt with creepy coworkers and customers in the past, but this is just beyond. I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this, and worse, that you were made to feel you'd caused it.
As a fellow freelance writer, I'm hereby keeping an eye out for projects for you. I just started following you on twitter; please message me if you want some tips on how to pay the rent with your writing instead of having to deal with harassers and the cowards who enable them.
By Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) on The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense
@Radical_Feminist I can't speak from any specific experience, so I'm glad that you (and this article) have articulated how I've felt all along.
If we believe the oft-repeated line that rape is about power, WHY would anyone not believe in empowering potential victims and taking some of that power away from the attacker? I believe in trying anything necessary to prevent something terrible from happening - eradicating rape culture would be great, but it's not going to happen overnight, so we all need to do whatever it takes to keep potential victims safe.
Yes, I have encountered those tactics, and have been frustrated by them many times. :( However, that's honestly not what I saw happening in this case. I was startled by the whole Twitter reaction when the article first appeared. It wasn't that the comments were clumsy; on the whole, they were clearly stated. A large number of them were very bluntly taking issue with the suggestion of any violence prevention strategy other than "teach men not to rape." I do think it worked up into an attack on the concept of self-defense itself, and that needed to be addressed.
Incidentally, a few days later, I was reading an article about a young woman who successfully fought off an attacker here in the UK. They had a few brief quotes from her (including one where she said she fought partly because she knew that if she didn't, he could do this again to some other woman, or maybe a child). Apparently in one quote she said something to the effect of "...women should know they can fight back," (can't remember the exact quote), and the first few commenters took her to task for it! I was mortified. Here was this survivor who had fought for her life and been successful, and you had people saying, "She did a great job. The only thing she did WRONG was to tell other women they should fight back."
Seeing those comments so soon after the Everyday Feminism thing was really troubling to me. Rape culture is real, our complicity in it must be checked, but honestly, if there needs to be a backlash against something, it is NOT against womens' agency. We have the right to physical resistance to bodily harm.
I guess what I'm trying to express, in so many words, is that the people saying "the way this discussion around self-defense and sexual assault happens reinforces rape culture and patterns of victim-blaming" also need to be careful of the language they use and the blame they place, lest they do harm to some of their great allies. :(
Yeah, I think we mostly agree. It seems there's some misplaced blame on people who advocate for women's self-defense classes, but mostly I think there's a lot of misinterpreting the criticism of rape culture as criticism of self-defense. Context is everything, and looks like the criticism (at least the criticism that's reasonable) is criticism of the framing of the discussion, not a criticism of self-defense classes.
It just seems like there's something going on here that feels a little bit like a bunch of people saying "hey, the way this discussion around self-defense and sexual assault happens reinforces rape culture and patterns of victim-blaming" and a bunch of people responding "self-defense is great and feminist, and totally not victim-blaming!" Sometimes the first side isn't the most eloquent, but I'm not sure I believe that the second side there is honestly not understanding the complaint. It reeks a little bit of anti-feminist rhetorical tactics that seek to make feminists look like a bunch of oversensitive squabblers who don't know what's good for them. You know?
I teach empowering self-defense from a radical, feminist perspective. I do NOT teach "don't walk alone" or "why didn't you fight back?" or "you should have done something differently." Those statements (which I know are used by some instructors of non-feminist, non-empowering, status quo so-called self-defense) can be read as victim blaming.
I agree with the author, it's NOT victim blaming for us to say - until rape culture is entirely dismantled, we need to organize on ALL fronts. Teaching women, girls, and other targeted people how to physically defend themselves in an emergency, how to use awareness to notice when they aren't being respected, and how to get help from bystanders and others is NOT victim blaming. It's realism!
As she writes - there's a paradox here - - perpetrators are 100% *responsible* but that does not mean that intended victims and survivors are 100% POWERLESS.
Believe me, I find Twitter insipid, but unfortunately those tweets motivated the very incident we are talking about here. (At least, it's what *I* am talking about here). EverydayFeminism took a string of tweeted objections equating SD with victim blaming and support of rape culture seriously enough to remove the article in question and post the disturbing apology that motivated both this piece and my comment.
That being said, I don't disagree with you one bit about the necessity of being very mindful of how we frame self-defense classes. Being careful when we talk about this stuff is no inconvenience for any good teacher; it's a requirement. I don't know whether or not you are familiar with self-defense training, but -- as this article points out -- there are so many well-informed, well-qualified, female instructors out there, some of whom basically wrote the book on fighting rape culture and worked tirelessly to create a curriculum that incorporates just these considerations into every. single. class. So it's more than a liiiiiitle bit insulting for people who may have no idea what material their classes actually include to accuse them of victim-blaming -- in some cases, no less, using the same language that's proudly supported rape culture for years, e.g. "Self-defense doesn't work!!!11!"
So, yeah. My beef is not that people want us to be careful with our language and how we approach topics. My beef is with people who are, through their own ignorance of the work of female self-defense pioneers, belittling that work and dismissing a great tool at womens' disposal.
I think the part about stressing that the blame doesn't fall on you *regardless of whether or not you defend yourself and regardless of whether you could*, and that self-defense involves an ethical choice is a really, really important part of teaching self-defense responsibly. In my high school, we were given the old "yell or gouge his eyes out" thing, and those were the only two options, and I wasn't sure I would be ready to blind somebody, even in self-defense. And years later I found myself in a position where my choice seemed to be between enduring a sexual assault without fighting, and pushing a man I didn't know out of a moving vehicle and into heavy traffic. I didn't defend myself, because I didn't want to be responsible if he died, or was hurt, and it's really hard for me not to think that I "tolerated" it, that I allowed it, that I'm a bad feminist for not hurting him when I could have.
I'm not even sure what exactly I'm trying to say, but I guess, yes, it is good to have the choice to be able to fight back, and it would be good to recognize it as a choice which is morally independent from the choice someone else made to assault you.
By Superrrdupa on Interview with Dr. Susan Robinson, One of the Last Four Doctors in America to Openly Provide Third-Trimester Abortions
@laurel Most research I've seen on the topic suggests that the connections required within a body to be able to experience pain aren't established until 24 weeks of gestation. For some late-term abortions, this means that some fetuses would indeed feel pain. However, it's indicated in this article that the fetus is euthanized in a way that avoids pain.
Still, you can take pain out of the question, whether the fetus is able to feel it or not. The argument here is that they would like their baby, who they cared for, to go through as little pain and suffering as possible. Death is something to be treated with care and respect. Say you had a loved one who was in a terrible accident and left brain-dead. Sure, they may not experience suffering anymore. They may not feel pain. But that doesn't mean I'd rather my loved one's body be taken out of their warm bed away from the comforts they can't even enjoy anymore when that body ceases to breathe, to pump blood.
The difference it makes is humanity, respect and love.
I also want to add that Brian Lowry's attitude that you're only successful in comedy if you currently have your own TV show is an impossible standard, and one which all comedians hear echoed from their relatives at some point. Sarah Silverman is massively successful. Any comedian who is making their living solely from comedy is successful. The idea that she's "frittered around the edges of breakout success" is ridiculous. It's weird, because it's like if you found out that a friend worked in an office and asked, "Oh, are you the CEO of the entire company? No? Well, keep plugging away! Maybe if you weren't so XY&Z someone would discover you!"
Not to mention that for many comics, just being able to do stand-up is the goal in itself.