Why women need to stop being told to learn self-defence
As a child, I believed karate or self-defence of some sort would help make me invincible.
Watching videos promoting self-defence techniques and attending seminars or classes on self-defence are all sound activities to invest our time in, especially if you take into account how they can help us be better equipped at protecting ourselves in certain situations. Something I asked myself at a much later age, however, was how reasonable the idea of relying on self-defence, to prevent any kind of harassment from occurring, was.
Telling girls to start learning self-defence as the one solution to end all forms of harassment essentially feeds into the culture of victim-blaming, as it may contribute to the idea that if you were ever harassed or attacked, it was because you were not equipped to fight back, instead of how the harassment should never have occurred to begin with.
A potential issue lies in how self-defence could be negatively perceived. In movies, if a girl starts fighting off bad guys and defeats them, the sole reason for her win is usually her extensive training received in fighting. Sometimes the character receives help.
However, in real life, if you were a girl who got into an argument with a man somewhere for some reason, most people would likely just stand and watch the scene, often there only to ridicule the situation. The ways in which any such situation can go wrong are innumerable. If the man was rude and attempted to raise his hand against you, would you be completely confident about saving your life alone if it came down to it? Should the situation turn worse and you were outnumbered, what would happen then?
The problems do not stop there. Women could be physically unfit to receive self-defence training, may have reached an age where they can no longer vigorously train to protect themselves, or maybe they are too young to understand how to do so. They could have financial difficulties which render it impossible for them to attend classes or seminars on how to defend themselves. Just because these women have these barriers in learning self-defence, does by no means, indicate they have no desire to protect themselves.
Knowing that you have the ability to at least to some extent, whatever the extent may be, protect yourself from bodily harm in the state of a crisis, no doubt is better than not having any clue as to how to defend yourself. It gives you confidence and increases your chances of survival in a fight. However, it is more important to promote better education and teach people how to respect people of all gender identities. It is not a woman's responsibility to protect herself, it is the responsibility of the society to avoid any such occurrences.
Bushra Zaman likes books, art, and only being contacted by email. Contact her at [email protected]