Thursday, August 11, 2011


Breda has up a post concerning the participants of SlutWalks, and their apparent take on women's self defense. Since reading it, I've had a few nagging thoughts about it I thought I'd share. I can't figure out how to embed the video, so y'all will have to wander over to Breda's to see it.


Ok. First and foremost, these techniques are physically ineffective. As Weer'd points out, no full contact martial arts allow men and women to fight, and all are heavily divided into weight classes. All the martial training in the world can be overcome by being bigger and stronger than your opponent. Put simply, these palm-strikes and eye-pecks are going to do just about diddly.

The main thing that has been bothering me isn't the ineffective nature of the defense. In the instruction, the woman makes special note that you must shout "No" during the attack. I find this bizarre on several levels.

These techniques are supposed to be used on rapists, yes? Is this rapist supposed to hear the woman say 'no', and say, 'oh, oops, I guess she doesn't want to be raped. I'll just leave now.' What then is this shout supposed to accomplish? It's doing squat to change the attacker's mind. Yes, indicating the lack of consent is wise, but don't rely on that changing anything. Rapists don't care about the wishes of their victims. If they did they wouldn't be rapists.

It also violates the separation of the talking stage and the laying on of hands stage. For an excellent discussion of that separation, head to Lawdog, specifically the line
"This doesn't happen with all arrests -- but, during the "laying on of hands" the talking part is over and done. There is no negotiation, making deals, or asking for co-operation once the talking has failed."
The same applies to personal defense. If you find yourself having to use force, you use force until the threat is gone. Be that by the perp running away, curling into a ball and whimpering, knocked cold, or well ventilated doesn't matter right here and now. Why ventilated is better is a later post. Mixing the talking and fighting bits just ends up unpleasant.

When I brought this point up to a friend, she said she had always thought it was more to get attention than anything else. This surprised me too, because the English language has a much more appropriate word for getting help in that circumstance, being, well, 'help'. Shouting 'no' may get the attention you want, but may also be disregarded. Shouting help is actively requesting that attention, not just hoping to get it en passant.

It seems to me that in attempting to put the blame where it belongs, with the goblins, SlutWalks has accidentally ignored some of their own social responsibilities and proper self-preservation. Saying it's not your fault if you get raped is not an excuse to be unprepared to defend yourself. Counting on anyone else to save you is foolhardy and unfair to the people you are begging. Your safety is your own responsibility.

To sum up, talk when time to talk. Make sure the goblin knows this is not consensual, especially important in date-rape and other similar circumstances. When talking fails though, all vocalization should be attempts to get help, not negotiating. And, to quote Weer'd, "Carry your damn guns!"

To clarify, I do not even remotely blame the women for finding themselves victimized. The only party at blame in a rape case is the rapist. I support that part of SlutWalks. I do think the women will be best able to get through the encounter by being sensible.


  1. Great post! & thanks for linking

    I especially liked your point: "Rapists don't care about the wishes of their victims. If they did they wouldn't be rapists."


  2. I have had a very, very modest amount of force-on-force training, but one of the things they taught us was that if you are talking you aren't fighting. Speaking interferes with one's ability to act. In a fight for life and limb, adding another layer of multi-tasking onto it is not helpful.