Sexual assault prevention, The politics of —

by Sofia

From the Globe and Mail: RCT shows that self-defense courses lead to less sexual assaults.

Last week I took one such 12-hour course offered through McGill, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It is difficult to explain just how empowering it is to feel — and have seen in action — many new tools and options that you have when someone is trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do. Or, a bit more morbidly, to realize just how much pain and damage you can inflict on someone who is a threat to your safety, no matter how big or strong they are. From losing the fear of seeming impolite, to firmly yelling “No” while delivering a knee to the groin, there are many ways to stop a coercive situation that every girl and woman should be familiar with.

It may seem politically incorrect to suggest that teaching women to defend themselves is an important way to reduce assaults, but I would suggest that empowering women is part and parcel of dismantling the idea that assaults will end when perpetrators stop attacking their would-be victims. What if those supposed “victims” were seen as too dangerous to target? What if attacking a female represented a tricky and high-stakes risk to the assailant? What if we played in such a way that the field were more equal? When it came to education, we had no compunctions about offering all those weapons to women so that they may be intellectual equals of men. Why not extend that logic to our physical bodies? If we made a priority of showing girls and women just how unhelpless they are, then no one would think of us that way, starting with ourselves.