Beware of Assumptions, Not Monsters: Part 3

In the third part of my Beware of Assumptions series, I’m going to discuss “self defense.” If you’re a woman, you know what I’m talking about. Every time we bring up violence against women, inevitably, some dopey-grinned asshole cheerily suggests taking a self-defense class.

Yes. Let’s recap what we’ve gone over so far: 1) women have no common sense. 2) We’re supposed to avoid danger. And now, 3) women are to prepare themselves for Danger by spending time and money on self-defense classes and mace.

Growing up, little girls are taught, over and over, that aggressiveness in girls is bad. Girls don’t fight—no. If another child picks on a little girl, we expect the little girl to run tearfully to her parents or teacher, and not to tattle. No one likes a snitch. They’re to run tearfully to the nearest adult to be comforted. Little boys are taught to fight back, and are even chastised and punished for crying and tattling.

All grown up, we’re only allowed to defend ourselves. Strength-building? Martial arts? Boxing? Hell no. To prepare us for the Big Bad Stranger jumping out of the bush, we’re taught in our segregated self-defense classes to poke eyes, scream, twist our wrists free, and kick testicles. If you ask me, the lessons fathers give their sons on how to fistfight are more advanced. But women couldn’t handle that.

One of the milestones of boyhood is his first pocketknife. There is no such equivalent in girlhood. The first hunting trip is the same: a milestone for boys, unheard of for girls. Indeed, as a knife-carrying female, I’m considered an oddity. Just last week, my grandfather made my (all-male) cousins the butt of a joke challenging their manhood, and all because I was the one to whip out a knife to cut open a sealed box.

Even as we discourage aggression and fighting in females, we, as a society collectively mock girls and women who do fight, and only use such skills as are familiar to them: scratching, hair-pulling, and slapping. They are mocked because they don’t know how to fight properly, like men.

And yet, when the Big Bad Stranger in the bushes comes up, it’s spoken as a matter of course that women should know how to defend themselves. We are taught throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that vagina-possessing bodies do not, cannot, and should not know how to fight. Save for this one, special, particular situation. With a lifetime of discouragement and disdain for female aggression, it is no wonder that Jenkins’ self defense classes are not as popular as he thinks they should be.

Is it any wonder that we don’t?

Yet, Jenkins assumes this is solely and completely the fault of the woman who cannot or does not fight back sufficiently enough to deter her attacker. She should have paid for and taken all the time necessary for one class that teaches basic and inadequate skills, to match the training men receive throughout their lives.  Let’s make an outlandish comparison using Guy World™ examples: It’s like a professional MMA fighter versus a high school wrestler. More experience and more training will win out more often than not, Mr. Jenkins.

This isn’t even going into weaponry. Most men have used a pocketknife throughout their lifetimes, and so are skilled with a knife. Many have experience with guns. Compare these fine weapons with… pepper spray. Or a taser.  There is no comparison. When you add years of training in said weaponry use to little to none in inferior weaponry, you get “Are you SERIOUSLY trying to compare the two? Really? Really?”

More and more, it’s looking like, “Mr. Jenkins, are you SERIOUSLY blaming women for being attacked? Really? Really?

Let’s go Republican for a minute: Blame the bad guys. The bad guy who jumps out of the bushes, perhaps? Yeah. Considering he’s the one breaking the law and hurting another person, it really does make sense.

Part One, Part Two


About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

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