In a convo about women & self-defence on my page, Annette Evans wrote:
There are two markets of women who don’t show up: the ones who don’t want to be there, for reasons like those you mention in the blog post you linked to, and the ones who want to be there but can’t or think they can’t. For both, one of the core questions as an instructor or someone trying to sell a class is: “what do you prioritize more than showing up?”
For the first group, it’s a matter of figuring out how to get them to value self-defense at all. This is just slightly different from making it appealing. Those of us who have done even a little of the work know that there might not be anything appealing about that work at all. But what is it that makes it so important to roll up our sleeves anyway? And what makes ME so important?
For the second group, it’s a matter of figuring out how to get them to value self-defense more. More than what? More than being home with their families on the weekend? More than taking a chunk out of Junior’s soccer fund? More than spending a day at the spa? Then how can we move self-defense up that list? Like with the first group, that’s not all about appeal, it’s about making one kind of work more important than another kind of work. And some of it is about finding a way to make those other commitments easier to fulfil so that she CAN show up.
A lot of time and words are spent on talking about why Women® don’t prioritise self-defence enough. I’m often at a loss as to how to class the bulk of these efforts. They are definitely not a “conversation”; very little of that effort seems to be going into accepting, absorbing, and acting upon the answers provided.
There are barriers preventing some people accessing SD training. Some of these people are women. Some of these barriers may not seem “real” or “bad enough” to some external observers. So what? They’re real enough to the people experiencing them. If we’re genuinely trying to get them on board, shouldn’t we at least pretend that we respect their opinions?
I cannot even begin to enumerate all the possible things other women may be prioritising over self-defence training without actually asking those women and actually listening to what they are saying. The only life I’m living is my own. I know what has stopped and stops me. I know a bit about what stops my friends and those people who choose to share their concerns with me. I cannot extrapolate this to be what stops everyone else. I sure as hell cannot dismiss every concern I don’t get as insignificant just because I don’t get it. Well, I could, I guess; but I won’t, because it doesn’t seem like much of a strategy.
Currently, my main barrier is that I’m a bundle of old injuries. Not all of them are healed, and not all of them will heal. Before I broke my back the last time (derp), I’d gladly jump in and train with anyone, in anything, partly because you never know what you may get out of something, but largely because it was fun. Now it’s just too risky. The dubious privilege of playing patty-cake with unknown people isn’t worth the risk of spending another three years wondering whether today’s the day that I gotta accept that I can’t get to the shitter on my own.
Historically, my main barrier has been the time-money continuum. In my demographic group, you tend to have one or the other, never both at the same time. If I’m working I don’t have time (and often energy; not everyone works in an office). If I’m not working, not only I don’t have money, but I also tend to have to prioritise other things; like getting work so I can get money, or saving the money I’ve got so if I don’t get work for a while I can still eat and live in a house.
Some friends of mine are the main or sole carers of children. Not only this greatly reduces the amount of free time they have, but it also makes it critical that they don’t get injured. They just cannot afford to risk becoming incapable of performing their daily duties, because they have nobody to cover for them. Risking a few months in hospital with a broken something is one thing; risking that when it could mean that your partner has to give up work to care for your kids, or that they could end up in care… that’s a whole other ballpark. I’m in the easy-mode version of this situation as I’m self-employed. If I can’t work, I don’t earn and I don’t get sick pay. Although the repercussions would only affect me, they’d still be significant. It would kinda suck to come out of hospital to find that the house is getting repossessed.
There’s plenty of stuff I have little or no comprehension of, because it hasn’t come up in my life. For instance, Limatunes wrote a blog about breastfeeding and gun classes. It hadn’t even occurred to me that it may be an issue. The kids I’ve parented have been squirted out by kind third parties; I got involved with them when they were well past that phase. Although I’m a Woman®, I’m less clued up about the implications of mothering an infant than a lot of guys.
I could ask a million women – I could ask a million PEOPLE why they don’t prioritise self-defence training over other concerns. I’d come up with a whole load of different answers. And chances are that all that effort would be for nothing, because a significant proportion of instructors, instead of listening and taking notes, would do their level best to invalidate each and every answer.
The standard response to any issue raised as a higher priority than self-defence is that self-defence is about protecting your life, and what could be more important? If you really cared, you’d find a way. Because you don’t, you’re finding excuses. That makes you either stupid or weak; maybe both. Consider yourself dismissed, you sheeple.
I can’t even begin to express how much I loathe that kind of reaction. It’s not about whether it’s correct or not; the line between reason and excuse is often in the eyes of the beholder. It’s not about the level of sheer disrespect it manifests. I just find it staggering that anyone who claims to be so into self-defence would fail so comprehensively at understanding basic strategy. I mean, this is not Musashi; this is practically Winnie-the-Pooh.
The fact is that some people don’t prioritise self-defence because they have bigger (to them) issues to deal with. It matters not a fig whether those issues are really that big. They are big to them. If I want to help those people out, I need to work with or through those issues, not piss on them from a great height.
I’m not saying that there aren’t people out there who refuse to take a self-defence class because it may muss their hair or cause them to break a nail. But even for them, how does it pay to poo-poo on those concerns? Are we really going to win their hearts and minds by treating them like morons?