If you’ve been on the interwebs for more than 5 minutes you’ve probably landed on one of those ‘funny’ dog video compilations. Most of them contain at least one instance of a small dog, most often a chihuahua, behaving in an incredibly aggressive fashion to a background of laughter. If a larger dog, say a Rottweiler, behaved in that manner, nobody would find it remotely funny. But when an anklebiter does it, it’s suddenly hilarious.*
I am that chihuahua. I am 1 inch and 3/4 too tall to be legally classed as a dwarf – I know this because a friend was compelled to check it out. This gives me the distinctive advantage of being able to look up the nostrils of most people over the age of 12, but it makes it somewhat difficult for me to cut an imposing figure. It’s surprising how much this matters in situations where, logically, height shouldn’t make right. I am also ostensibly female, obviously foreign, and educated above my (low) socio-economic status; for a lot of people, I am literally and metaphorically a lesser person.
I don’t precisely lose sleep over that. As far as I’m concerned, people who think less of me because of any of those factors are assholes, and the opinions of assholes bother me not. Their attitude towards me, however, has a practical impact on my life. A lot of people don’t take me seriously. In particular, they interpret my attempts at boundary setting as insignificant. They read my displeasure as ‘cute’. My anger is ‘adorable’, or so I’m told. This is somewhat problematic, because when I tell someone to cut this shit up or else, I mean it just as much as normally-sized people. Hell, I mean it as much as people with testicles do. Alas, my utterances are so precious that, despite their tone and content, they are often disregarded.
I find this bothersome. I’m not a fan of empty threats and I’m relatively resourceful, so these situations usually get resolved with a minimum of effort on my part, but I have to make that effort quite often. I have enforce my consequences a lot more often than most of my friends, and particularly my maler, taller, larger friends. It’s uncanny, but when someone who looks like they’ve got bear in their ancestry asks people to change their behaviour, most people tend to pay attention. I’m descended from rodents, alas, so I usually have to take my boundary setting activities to their more-or-less bitter end at least once with a whole load of twerps.
Then comes the wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of said twerps. Why am I raising my voice? (Maybe, just maybe, because when I talk at a normal volume, you don’t fucking listen) Why am I hurting them? (Because when I told you to take your hands off me, you didn’t). Why are they bleeding? (Errrr.) Why am I so meeeeean?
I guess it is unfair on my part. It’s false advertising: I look all small and non-threatening and girly-like, so I should be meek and mild. I should let those who are bigger and stronger and louder (and often maler, but not always so) get their way, because they are more than me. Unfortunately I’m just not that way inclined.
So fucking what? So this same dynamic applies to people who are perceived as lesser for any reason, whether it’s gender, age, height, size, disability status, race, ethnicity, nationality, educational status, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and probably all kinds of other ‘status’ markers I’ve forgotten about. People who are perceived as ‘lesser’ are expected to behave according to their inferior status. Their requests are taken less seriously. Their boundaries are attacked more often, with an expectation of impunity. If ‘lesser’ people want to be treated as equals, they will have to fight for that, and those fights will be more frequent and more intense than those of ‘superior’ people.
This sounds like a giant case of duh, and it is; it’s a shame that it gets overlooked so often when teaching non-physical self-defence techniques and principles. So many programs are sold as a one-size-fits-all, and that’s not the case. Anyone who honestly believes that the playing field is level is living a life so privileged I cannot even conceptualise it.
*As someone who works with dogs, it isn’t. Seriously.
In utterly unrelated news, I’m in the process of exuding another fiction book. It’s nothing to do with self-defence or in fact anything else much other than the fact that I occasionally need to clear my head out and, as per usual, there is no earthly reason why you should care. Did I mention I suck at marketing?
Anyhoo, the damn thing isn’t out yet, but for the 9 people who bought “Among the Stars” on the Kindle, if you update your version you get the first chapter free.
Yes, I’m putting the first chapter of a book that isn’t finished yet out there. Yes, sensible people don’t do that kind of thing. Hey ho.