In response to this blog, Tropical Threads asked:
“So, I’d like to hear your ideas on what would make self defence appealing to ‘most women’. Not a trick question or anything. I’m genuinely interested.”
It’s a good question, without a simple or short answer. I was going to try and answer it in a rational manner over a series of blogs, but I’m not sure I’ll manage to because just thinking about the issue is driving me to drink.
I’ve got a ton and a half of ideas of how self-defence could be made more appealing to a whole bunch of women. That makes me neither rare not special. There are scores of women out there who don’t get into SD for very specific reasons, and many of them will tell you what these reasons are, if you ask them. There are also scores of women who are into SD despite a whole bunch of issues; they will also tell you what these issues are, if you ask them.
The problem isn’t that these women are not talking. The problem is that they’re not being heard. Or worse, when do get heard, their concerns are dispelled by using a bunch of standard bullshit methods; the same bullshit methods used to belittle and ignore women in a variety of other settings. Most of them boil down to:
- assuming that women are simply incapable of comprehending their own experiences and need to have them explained by people with bigger brains in their pants;
- treating them accordingly.
This steaming turd burger gets dropped on my plate on a routine basis. I’ve lost count of the number of times male self-defence instructors have gone out of their way to explain to me how I’ve misunderstood my own life experiences. Sometimes it’s so absurd that it almost manages to be funny, like when a kind man undertook to mansplain mansplaining to me (I hate the term, btw, but sometimes there isn’t a better one). In case you’re wondering, it’s not that men talk down to women, ever; it’s that women do not understand technical speech registers and get themselves all offended over nothing. I know it’s true because a man who’s worked all his life in a male-dominated field took the time to explain it to me and my girlfriends. The fact that us chicks have convinced ourselves that working and playing all our lives in male-dominated fields too might have given us a valid point of view on the issue is yet another proof of how irrational we are.
I’ve sat and looked at this back-and forth – the constant wringing of hands over why women won’t do SD quickly followed by the waving of issues away when that question gets answered. I’ve contemplated the possibility of wailing away at it with my mighty keyboard, but I’m fully aware of the fact that the entire thing would be an exercise in futility. True misogynists don’t listen to women. That’s one of their defining traits, and it’s why those complaining about the evils of “virtue signalling” really ought to learn some history. People who’re deliberately oppressing those they consider lesser- or non-people don’t listen to them, because they are lesser- or non-people.
I could go off on one about this, and I’d probably achieve very little. I’d be another voice getting ignored and give myself an ulcer over nothing. More importantly, though, this problem isn’t entirely gendered. It’s not just women’s voices getting silenced; plenty of men are raising very similar issues, too, and being shown just as little respect in response.
A whole lot of the issues that put women off SD training are also the issues that make a whole chunk of SD either useless or actively anti-useful to many men. If there’s a gender bias, I reckon it sits largely in how the bulk of men and women respond to these issues, rather than in how severely they affect us. And that’s a whole ‘nuvver blog right there.