Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I am Worth Defending

A friends of mine posted this article on facebook yesterday.  Entitled "What it's like being a teen girl[sic]," it describes a continuous and rampant pattern of sexual assault that continued through Ms. Wolley's teenage years.  She says that this behavior was and is unacceptable, and I agree.  But here's where she and I diverge strongly.  Her take on the solution:

Pretty much everything in North American culture tells men and boys that women and girls are there for them. So please, do us some favours. Stop telling us that we have to take self defence. Stop telling us we shouldn’t drink or go out at night or on dates. Stop telling us that we need to be prepared for whatever “boys-be-boys” violations come our ways, because it’s bullshit. We don’t have to accept this or carry it around in silence.
Start talking with men and boys about the messages they’re getting about women and girls. Tell them that they are not entitled to our bodies, no matter what. Talk to them honestly and comprehensively about sexualization and objectification. Stop being afraid to talk about boundaries, sex, and pleasure—leaving that to schools, the Internet, and peers is simply not cutting it. Show them what consent really looks like.
And this sounds basic, but remind them that we’re, you know, people? We deserve at least that much.
In sum, women shouldn't have to modify our behavior, because the predatory men are in the wrong.  Instead, we should engage in dialogue with them to show them the right way to behave.

Here's the problem with this approach: Predators don't give a shit that we're people too.  Predators are here to take what they can get from you and they don't care how much they hurt you to get it.  In fact, in cases of sexual assault, hurting you is part of the enjoyment they derive from it.  So talking to them about our shared humanity isn't going to cut any ice with them.

However, predators aren't into their own pain, and they take great pains to ascertain whether you are a low risk target or not.  So, to decrease your chances of attracting a predator's attention, you want to make yourself into as high-risk a target as possible.  Additionally, you want to keep out of places that predators like to hang out.  Figuring out how to do this in the backbone of a good self-defense curriculum.

Is it fair that non-predators (men and women) have to modify their behavior to reduce their chances of being preyed on?  Absolutely not.  But I think I'm more likely to deter a predator with a force equalizer (the one I have chosen is a Glock 36) than with an appeal to our shared humanity.

I never had to live with years of sexual assault, and for that I am truly grateful.  I am glad that Ms. Wolley has moved beyond her experiences to acknowledge her self-worth.  I hope that she will someday be able to take the next step and see that self-defense is a concrete expression of that worth.

I am worth it; worth the time and the trouble to defend myself against those who take pleasure in my pain and those for whom my pain is merely a means to an end.  My daughter is worth it too; both her time and mine, her attention and thought and work.  My son will learn that women are people too, and should be respected accordingly, and he will be given the tools to enforce this with regards to himself as well.  I have important and worthy thins to do in this lifetime to prevent sexual assault; I have better things to do with my time than talk to predators.

If you would like to learn more about self-defense with firearms, a good resource is

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