Encouraging Self Defense Makes Me Unfeminist?

10:58 AM Moo 0 Comments

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called BJJ: Empowerment, Boundaries and Assault, about self defense, rape culture and the therapeutic effect BJJ has had for me. This week Miss Nevada (Taekwondo black belt) Nia Sanchez, made headlines while discussing college rape culture. She said  "More awareness [of the issue] is very important so that women can learn to protect themselves... you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself" and the internet went wild!

Sanchez speaks as a women who spent her earlier life living in a women's shelter with her mother. She later decided to give back, by teaching victims the self defense she learned in her own training as a black belt.Should she have noted that a lack of self-defense is not the reason behind rape? Yes, if she wanted to be extra safe and make sure not to offend/trigger anyone. The words "Victim Blaming" and "Anti-Feminist" were thrown around  and the notion that women should take self defense was shut down with the argument "rape is caused by men who rape, not my lack of self defense." This is a true statement.

The most important point I can stress is A RAPE VICTIM IS NEVER RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR RAPE. So again, are victims ever to blame for their rape? Absolutely not. Does this mean that learning self defense is pointless? Hell No! In a perfect world rape would not exist, rape culture would be a dystopian novel topic, women would match men in strength and men would understand that our clothing choices, the way we carry ourselves and the way we say "NO" does not equal consent.

Our fear of being termed "unfeminist," "sexist" or a "rape sympathizer" has paralyzed us from promoting self defense. While it may not be applicable for everyone, it is not an idea to be laughed at, or frowned upon. It can be confidence building, empowering and ultimately life saving. Again, there is NOTHING victim blaming about saying women should learn how to defend themselves. We can decide to infer this, if we would like.

American Mixed Martial Artist, Shayna Baszler defended Nia Sanchez and took to twitter to comment:

 Shayna Baszler @QoSBaszler
While the #YesAllWomen people are busy crying about "victimization", I was at the gym honing my whoop-ass skillz.
Ronda Rouseys mother weighed in on the issue which is documented below in an exchange found on Mixed Martial Arts:
 DrAnnMaria @DrAnnMaria
@QoSBaszler That's fine because you WANT to but you shouldn't HAVE TO http://www.thejuliagroup.com/blog/?p=3851
@DrAnnMaria i also shouldnt HAVE 2 prevent my acct from fraud, or HAVE 2 lock my doors at night
 DrAnnMaria @DrAnnMaria
@QoSBaszler No, you should not. Which is why we arrest people who commit fraud & not say you had it coming
 Shayna Baszler @QoSBaszler
@DrAnnMaria i agree w/that. Just not all the hate @MissUSA is getting
Many responded by saying her [Shayna's] decision to fight was just that, a choice, where as being raped was not. She was deemed unfeminist and unsupportive of the female plight. While surely it could have been worded better, there is something REALLY powerful about a women honing those skills.

Women SHOULD NOT have to learn self defense, in order to not be raped, but does that mean they shouldn't learn self defense because we expect the world to be just?  It isn't. Racially, sexually, economically or otherwise. Being a biracial women, growing up in the Midwest I learned a long time ago that the way I want things to be and the way things SHOULD be, are not a reflection of the way things are. I am not always safe, I consider the implications or wearing a hood or how dark my skin is after I've been out in the sun. Yet, I also consider what shoes I wear in case I have to quickly remove them and run away from an attacker, I know how to make everything on my person into a weapon while I am digging for keys to get into the house late at night, I am sometimes scared to walk a few blocks in the dark and opt to take a taxi, I am cautious of men that are bigger than me, when I enter a room with someone of the opposite sex I often look for all of the exits and possible ways to escape. If you are a man, you probably have never had to do this (that again, is an assumption).I question everything, I check myself and others around me. Since learning a martial art, yes, I know that I sometimes still do these things and that I am not automatically safe but I have a different skill set now. A skill set that I wish all people, not just women felt comfortable using. A skill set that I wish could be encouraged without being told I am un-feminist.

Feminism, by it's very nature is about  "defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities  for women."  Why shouldn't I have the same opportunity to defend myself? I'm sick of feminism being used as a dirty word, I'm sick of being told by other feminists that my opinions make me less of a feminist and I'm sick of being told HOW I should feel as a feminist.

When I was a kid I used to see these big, brave, beautiful, badass female athletes and I wanted to be just like them. When did it become wrong to encourage women to take up combat sports? When did rape culture make women so divided that we found it necessary to attack each other for our personal decisions/viewpoints on self defense and training. No matter what the social norm is, there will always be outliers. There will always be people and things that go against what it is right and what is wrong. We know that robbery is morally wrong and yet we still have security systems, we still lock our doors. We do not and should not blame the victims. It is a well known fact, that suggesting rape is not an issue, makes you a dirt bag. But why does suggesting self defense as a form empowerment make a person equally as "wrong?" I will never stop fighting for women's rights and I will never stop fighting against the horrible rape culture society has created, but I will also never stop fighting because I never want to be a victim again. I am proud that I am comfortable defending myself.

Women, too often, are perceived as being defenseless. I am on a mission to change that perception.