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 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.
I call bullshit. Just like the reality of rape is complicated (as the author states: rapists are responsible for rape but victims are not powerless), the discussion of self-defense is complicated. The people who are conscious of this discussion in the context of a culture that blames women for their own rapes are not wrong. Talking about self-defense techniques as a response to sexual assault is a reinforcement of rape culture if it's not done carefully. Pretending like that's not true is playing dumb.
These self-defense classes sound fantastic. But conversations about reducing rape that include issues of self-defense, but do not include issues of rape culture, of teaching "yes means yes" consent practices, of making rapists accountable for their actions, and so on? THOSE are the problem. It's not the discussion of self-defense that's wrong--it's the discussion of self-defense to the exclusion of every other aspect.
I'm not asking you to defend Paglia, don't worry. Part of patriarchy is the assumption of male behavior (I'm just calling it masculine-coded behavior because it's not exactly that simple) as the default, and holding male behavior up as what women should aspire to. There's an implicit value judgment there, which says that men's behavior is right and good, and women's behavior is a deviation. Who's to say that assertiveness is "better" than niceness? There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and saying that women need to just "man up" (so to speak) is an enforcement of patriarchal values.
I also think that talking about men being responsible for women's behavior when it comes to rape is HARDLY an accurate assessment of what most feminists mean when we talk about fighting rape culture. The current default is the opposite of that (the culture blames women for men's actions), and we're asking that men be held responsible for their own behavior.
I mean this is the nicest possible terms, but it's kind of sounding like a productive conversation isn't going to be possible here, so you'll forgive me for not engaging further with you.
The implication is that 1) the problem is that women are too nonconfrontational, and 2) if women were more outspoken, things would change. I think both of those ideas are total and complete bullshit, but you're welcome to disagree.
The other problem there is treating male-coded behaviors as the standard for women to aspire to, instead of talking about a whole paradigm shift. She's calling out privileged women explicitly (for what I think are ENTIRELY the wrong reasons), but her own viewpoint is incredibly privileged: the consequences of being outspoken are very, very different if you don't have certain advantages.
Sorry, I don't think pointing out street harassment as part of patriarchal system counts as "politically correct swill." I also don't buy into the idea that having privilege makes one somehow immune to sexism. And I'm not sure what's *boring* about anti-sexist activism.
Wait, you're not actually agreeing with Paglia, are you?
@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
Oh my god though, can we talk about how Patrick Kearns is a total babe, and those internet dudes are obviously just jealous/delusional?! (That was not my take-away from the article by any means, I just feel like it needs to be said!)
Patrick, can you hear me? Take heart! You are not a 5/10! You have very nice eyebrows!