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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Women self-defense: is society going mad or just out of touch with reality?

This was originally a much, much longer post. Then I accidentally deleted it.
Well, here's my take on the "truisms" that are being spread in Women Self-Defense...circles.
It's borderline insane, people. No matter who you can persuade, it's insane - and especially if you do manage to persuade anybody, it's highly unethical to mislead people.Yes, I'm unfortunately (and uncharacteristically) serious.
Let me see the bullet points of mind-numbingly stupid assertions I've encountered lately. I'm at the point where I want to ask my friends living in English-speaking countries: WTF, people? What's wrong with...some people you are divided from by a common language?
  • Rape is a societal problem, not a self-help problem.
    I mean, it is true-all crimes are societal problems! It's why we prohibit them, duh!
    But FUCK, NO - all crimes are self-help problems first and foremost, to the victim. Well unless you like being a victim. Who else do you count on being there? The predators know you could get help from the "flock". It's why they'd be trying to lead you astray - by charm or by force.
  • The society should work only with the perpetrators and not "restrict the freedoms" of women (and men) that are at risk.
    Now, first, we DO work with the perpetrators. Haven't you noticed those prisons we've got for them? OTOH, that's not enough, know what "social outcast" means, right? Well, most criminals are social outcasts, and THAT'S EXACTLY WHY the chance of society influencing them are...slim. Especially if the interaction only takes the form of punishment - and most countries take exactly this approach. For all I know, that's the dominant approach in the USA.
    Second, that's some IMMENSE bullshit-triggering statement in the second part of the sentence. Warning people that certain behaviours make you more likely to become a target AND less likely to defend yourself AND less likely to get the perpetrator convicted even in case of assault - well, that is giving them the right to an informed choice, not restricting their freedoms. They can still decide to go out and engage in all kinds of risky behaviours. They might even get away with it. There's just a lower chance.
  • Turns out, anti-rape advice like "self-induced vomiting/pissing/shitting" and "telling him you're menstruating" is somehow...undignified? Sending the message women can't fight off an attacker. Oh, and it should be replaced with work with the perpetrators, either way. Because reasons. But God forbid that someone tells people a simple yet relatively efficient way of dealing with an assault they couldn't deal with otherwise. (Because it doesn't fit someone's political stance, is what I read in such statements.)
    First: getting raped is even less dignified. Forget dignity, forget fair play: what's next, telling women they should use their Tae Bo training to square off with an attacker for a couple rounds under boxing rules?
    Second, I've got news for you, darling: most men can't fight off an experienced criminal, either-because he's experienced at fighting, he's mentally prepared to be violent, he picks the time, he picks the place, and he picks a target he believes he can overwhelm. That's before weapons and surprise come into the equation - all factors that are unlikely to be on your side. Yes, the deck is stacked. That's why if you can avoid an assault (which is not a fistfight, these are different - but rapes are seldom fistfights), you do, and if you can't, you fight as dirty as possible.
    Third, no sane law enforcement would work ONLY with perpetrators. You work with them, with the potential victims, and if any, with the potential witnesses. And you give everybody advice they can follow RIGHT NOW. If any potential victim decides to train in self-defense, this is nice - but the law enforcement or college can't make you train.
    Worse: the same piece of advice was prescribing to women to use "the power of their own bodies"...which is fine, except it's not deescalation (removing the desire of the perpetrator to attack you). And deescalation is a priority in self-defence, while physical defence is a last-ditch option. Why? Because, as any good teacher of self-defense can tell you, it often fails - even if you're trained, see the factors above. (And who told you the assailant isn't trained? Seriously?)
    OTOH, telling a would-be rapist the menstruation part is removing his desire to rape, before he commits to overwhelming you.
  • Telling women that being drunk comes with a special risk (note: not only women can be raped, and about 1/4 rapes are male-on-male, if I remember my statistics) means we are pepetuating a social climate that tolerates sexual predation. Therefore, telling young women to stay sober in order to avoid getting raped, sends the message that we do not intend to change that social climate. Obviously.
    No,! I'm almost at a lack for words to explain just how out of touch with reality this idea might seem.
    Worse: that's shifting the blame of the second-to-worst kind: from the perpetrator to the people that are telling you "predators exist, always have, always will, it's a natural part of life. Keep that in mind, and keep in mind alcohol makes you more likely to be picked as target for a crime - anything for a mugging to a rape". These people are doing you a service.
    And besides, recognising the existence of threats isn't nearly the same as perpetuating the dynamic that leads to crimes. It's not recognising the existence of threats that makes crime more likely.
    Want proof? Well, imagine that we all agree it's awful to say such things, and from tomorrow, nobody, and I mean nobody, is telling young women (and men) "beware, monsters be there - they're doing something wrong, but that's why we call them monsters. Alcohol makes you less likely to spot them, less able to fight them off, and less likely to sue them successfully afterwards. Worse, they know that and are more likely to target you". Nope. We're not saying such awful, awful things any longer.
    Did you imagine it? Good.
    Now, does rape still happen in said society? Yes? Then how is your attitude helping people? By failing to warn them?
    And frankly, if you think rapists have just disappeared overnight, because people have decided not to talk about them...I have nothing to tell you, except: I don't want you in the education system, nor in the medical system, nor in the law enforcement, nor in any kind of church or any other shrine, nor in the media, nor anywhere else where your deluded ideas can influence children or the livelihood of people. Because you've just crossed the line from mistaken to dangerously deluded.
Now, don't get me wrong: getting people to focus on how things should be, instead of the way they are, is great for political activism. It totally sucks for helping people to avoid becoming victims. In fact, the people that are focused on how things "should" be (in their worldview...) are more likely to become victims.
Because the criminals don't share your worldviews, and they're looking for people that are in denial of the reality. They make for softer targets (as a rule of thumb).
Bottom line: politicising the matters of self-protection should be criminalised. IMO.
Now, people...what's wrong with the people that are saying those things?

P.S.: After writing this post, I found out that my worst suspicions have been true.
Well, seems like at least some feminists think that the advice how to defend yourself is anti-women somehow. No, there isn't any (sane) logic to it.
Now, is self-defense a good solution to the problem of rape? Well, only if it's successful. But it makes it less likely.
Then why do I think people that support the "teach men not to rape" line are dangerous?
Simple: because they take what they wish for for possible. It's not. Rape isn't a cultural thing, despite the words "rape culture": it's opposed in any and all cultures I can think of. It's a crime.
So, have you seen a culture that has solved the issue of crimes in general? Even a specific kind of crime? A big city with no murders anywhere? No thefts? No muggings? No...whatever?
No. There ain't such a city. Therefore, rape will persist for the foreseeable future, too. And telling people that learning how to deal with it is "anti-women", or discarding good advice because it doesn't fit your political stance is... irresponsible at best.
I'm just hoping not all modern feminists hold to such ideas. Well, guess we'll see.