North Texas Daily

Self-defense classes neglect the real issue

Self-defense classes neglect the real issue

March 21
20:25 2018

An excerpt from the Larry Nadeau’s Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) self-defense program participant manual from 2006 reads:

“Keep in mind that without some preparation, you may actually increase your already statistically significant chances of being selected as a target.”

That’s right ladies, you can never over-prepare for literally being attacked at all times. Sexual abuse is already “statistically significant” for you just because you exist, so you are going to have to put in time and effort to make yourself less of a “target.”

And even then it is not guaranteed.

Nothing says “women’s safety” like a self-defense program created by a dude.

Why are people sexually assaulted? If your answer to this question is, “because they can’t defend themselves,” you are already barking up the wrong tree. And you’re victim-blaming.

The real answer is, “because some people have sexually violent tendencies and skewed ideas on respect and consent.”

Why aren’t we starting there, where the problem originates? Why is male violence treated as a default, unavoidable constant that women must protect themselves from, to such a degree that they change their lifestyles, learn physical assault tactics and carry weapons of defense? Why isn’t male violence thought of as the issue that needs fixing?

We live in a society that socializes men to be more violent and drastically fails at sexual education, yet refuses to acknowledge this combination yields sexual abuse.

Ultimately, self defense classes reinforce that the responsibility is on women to “avoid getting assaulted” instead of on men to not commit assault.

And if they weren’t already problematic by nature, I have yet to see a self-defense program that does not rely on the stereotype that sexual assaults are committed by crazy criminals in dark alleys.

Sexual violence statistics are readily available all over the internet. A five-second Google search would let anyone know that much more often than not, sexual assault victims know their assailant. More often than not, the perpetrator is someone the victim is well-acquainted with and interacts with willingly, not a random stranger that jumps them from a bush.

Do self-defense experts and police not have access to Google? They must not if their programs so blatantly ignore what accounts for the majority of sexual assault.

If you’ve taken a defense program like this and enjoyed it, I’m not mad at you. Empowerment is always a good thing. And who could blame you? I can imagine elbowing a guy dressed like a clunky, red Bionicle would be pretty sweet.

The fact is that self defense classes aren’t effective in preventing the real issue.

After a house fire, we might equip our houses with better fire alarms or a sprinkler system, but the real prevention comes in the form of education and ridding the house of hazards that caused the fire in the first place.

Featured Image: Illustration by Gabby Evans

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Rachel Herzer

Rachel Herzer

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