How to Exercise Our Right to Defend Ourselves without Being Victim-Blaming
Aside from watching the incredible mental gymnastics to reconcile an unsupportable ideology with raw reality (i.e. a woman has the right to walk naked into a biker bar and not be molested — well okay, well maybe that’s unrealistic, but she should! [Keep this in mind, you’ll see it again]) the reason this is funny is — as a marketing strategy — not only been there done that, but it’s crashed and burned.
When young women say no to feminism, feminists don’t accept no means no — Christina Hoff Summers.
About 10 years ago I had a saying, “Rape, domestic violence and WSD are the last bastions of rad feminism.” Overwhelmingly American women have rejected the direction that feminism has taken (i.e., “First, don’t tell me what I think. Second, you don’t speak for me.”). The core elements of why this rejection was covered nicely in Sherrye Henry’s “The Deep Divide” where 1,000s of women from different ages and social classes were interviewed about what they thought and felt about issues that second wave feminism claimed to represent them on. There was just a tiny little difference of opinion. (Hence the don’t tell me what I think or claim you represent me). Fundamentally, trying to tell women — who know what their lives are like –what their lives are like lacks a degree of credibility. It is only in the extremes, in areas where people do not have first-hand experience (or much experience), that wild ideas begin to sound plausible. Hence why the ‘retreat’ to these topics. While many women have experience fighting with their spouse/boyfriend/SIG they don’t have first hand experience with abuse so they can’t for certain say what is and what is not bullshit. Hey, maybe that is true…
That background is important to understand something … why WSD nearly died in the previous decade.
The rad fems HAD an almost total chokehold on the topic. And I am not bullshitting when I tell you “You have the right not to be molested when you walk naked into a biker bar” WAS the kind of thing being taught. Often it was kind of a rad fem boot camp promoting anger, aggression, self-righteousness and ‘hey diddle diddle straight up the middle’ fighting strategies against larger, stronger opponents. In speaking to many women who had taken this kind of training, their most common complaint was about the anger of it all and constant barrage of feminist rhetoric. They wanted to learn how to be safe, not be recruited. But they especially didn’t want to be taught how to ‘fight’ men under the guise of ’empowerment.’ Which unfortunately, that’s what they were being taught.
As such, WSD had a shit reputation. From a marketing and sales standpoint it was a complete and total Sisyphean task to get women to attend such classes. Those who had taken such training warned others about it and there was great resistance because of this. I had to specifically state we weren’t pushing the feminist agenda to get people to attend. A big reason for the expansion of WSD programs is exactly because other people are now teaching them rather than the rad fems. (Now are there problems with what’s being taught? Yes, but that’s another conversation.)
The thing that cracked me up about this article is the absolute certainty the author has about calling for the bad old days of WSD training. An approach that nearly bankrupted a whole lot of people who bought into it.
Now that shit’s funny…
Knowing what to do is not enough. What will kill you are all the things you don’t know not to do.
That is an extension of a meme found in EVERY survival based training I’ve ever encountered — that is: What you think you know will kill you.
I don’t care if it’s wilderness, desert, cold weather, ocean, or safety, the biggest danger is what you think you know to do (e.g. when attacked by a bear, throw your backpack away so it will go after that). The second biggest danger is not knowing what not to do. To someone who is untrained or inexperienced there are certain things that just seem logical and natural but will have negative results in certain environments. (E.g. while rock climbing, it is counter-intuitive to stick your ass out in the air. In this position your hands create a hinge/pivot effect that ‘drives’ your feet into rock face. Whereas the most ‘natural’ response, bellying up against the wall puts you parallel with it and you will just ‘plane’ off it and fall. Until you know not to do that, you will belly up, exhaust yourself and you will fall.) For safety sake, you need both lists — one of what ‘to do’ and ‘one of not to do’
This brings us to my first problem with the ‘don’t tell us what not to do’ position. Apparently, we can tell them anything except what not to do to increase their danger. Not decrease their danger, behaviors that actively increase dangers or all kinds are a verboten topic. They might as well be complaining about someone telling people not to throw light matches down a car’s gasoline tank.– because it’s interfering with their rights, oppressing them, trying to control them, victim blaming and we might trigger anyone who blew themselves up that way.
That list makes my teeth itch anyway, but where I hit the roof is with the last one. Wait a fuckin’ minute… You’re telling me I CAN’T warn people about throwing matches down a gas tank because of POTENTIAL self-esteem issues of someone who did?
They are in essence saying, because of their emphasis on ‘feelings’ and their beliefs, I have to remain mute and let other women get raped and sexually assaulted?That is to me manufacturing more victims to support their agenda, cause and careers. (There’s a reason I call it the ‘rape industry.) Sorry, I’ve seen too much pain and suffering to quietly sit there while this idea is promoted … and if they think they can intimidate and cow me into silence because of their anger and outrage … heh, They’re adorable.
My second problem is: They get to dictate what is taught?
For people — who are so concerned about oppression, censorship and forcing everyone to conform to accepted standards– them trying to shut down anybody with a different perspective (much less insisting on only one doctrine is allowed) … well, that isn’t exactly walking your talk is it? (That is unless your doctrine is “Oh no, we Ferengi aren’t against oppression. We just want to be the one’s doing it.”)
I’ve been told to my face that saying ‘an underaged girl sneaking into a frat house party with false ID and binge drinking herself into unconsciousness is not going to end well” is interfering with– and I quote — “A girls right to have fun.” And this BTW, by the HEAD of a university’s rape crisis center. (Once again, manufacturing future clients)
Yet, I am not allowed to tell people that such behavior is dangerous because it interferes with a girls right to have fun?That incident was ten years ago. Yet, just last year the woman who was pillared for daring to write an article telling young women not to binge drink into unconsciousness and incapacitation because — bad shit happens when you do — was also attacked for trying to suppress women’s rights.
I’ve heard the arguments you speak of; as well as the position that it is only through (highly funded and strictly controlled orthodox) education that this ‘social crisis’ can be solved. To this, I quietly respond, “bullshit.” The proof is in the pudding. These ideas have been being promoted for over ten years. If their approach worked, rapes would be going down. But according to them rape — especially on college campus — are going up. So by their own admission their approach is a failure… so why should we continue to let them dictate our approach to the problem?