The Stigma of Women’s Self Defense

I came across a blog post that I felt was worth sharing:

Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly replied with:

I’ve seen this image going around again, often accompanied by comments on how expecting women to learn self-defense is unreasonable and ineffective anyway, because men are bigger and stronger than us.

I get the original post’s sentiment. We can’t put the entire onus of preventing sexual assault on the victims (or potential victims), and things will not get better without widespread social change that addresses perpetrators (and potential perpetrators), and the cultural attitudes that make this shit so much more widespread and easy to get away with.

But as we build a better world that is safer for all of us, we need to live in this one. We need to survive day-to-day, and deal with the threats that exist now, and not the reduced ones that may exist decades down the road. And right now, knowing how to defend yourself won’t prevent all rape, but it might prevent yours.

It’s not a zero-sum game. Keeping yourself safe doesn’t put another in danger, and learning self-defense isn’t some betrayal of the sisterhood because another woman may not have access to the same training. If we really want to keep all women safer, then we lobby for cultural, legislative, and legal change on the one hand, and we make sure as many women as possible have access to good self-defense training on the other. There’s no earthly reason to choose between the two.

It’s hard enough for many women to step into a self-defense class. There’s already stigma attached to women fighting, fear of being hurt or – worse – of hurting someone else, and uncertainty about how safe you’ll be in a given school or with a given instructor. I’ve had women show up to my classes that spent a year working up to coming in, because it was that fucking daunting. Let’s not make it even worse by suggesting that wanting to protect yourself undermines the social progress of your entire gender.

Adding onto this, Swimming in Deep Water posted:

Additional points raised from the resulting discussion:

  1. I don’t believe there are any statistics as to how many assaults are prevented by capable, willing women stepping in to other women’s aid. From anecdotal evidence, it happens. I’ve done it. I’ve seen other women do it. Learning self-defence skills is like learning first-aid in one respect: maybe you’ll need it for yourself or your loved ones, but maybe you’ll end up using it to save a perfect stranger.
  2. A self defense scenario doesn’t always end with a predator sneaking off to assault someone else. It can end with an arrest or investigation which can actively prevent another assault.
  3. It is considered not only acceptable but desirable for parents to educate their young children about “stranger danger”. No suggestion is made that this causes someone else’s kid to be molested or kidnapped. So at which age does this change? Is it for a 12 yr old girl to learn self-defense, but not for a 15 yr old? 16? Where is that line drawn, by whom, and based on what theory?
  4. While any individual learning to defend themselves doesn’t solve any social problems, a critical mass of women and others with the skills and willingness to defend against predators could shift the social balance as well.
  5. Do women’s  responsibility to others always overrides personal concerns, and if so, why?

Both of these are great responses, but leave out something.

Every time I hear the mantra, “Teach men not to rape” I like to point out that dead rapists don’t have to be taught again.  I have absolutely zero problems making a sexual assault as painful & debilitating as possible for the attacker.  If the lesson proves fatal to the aggressor,  oh fucking well.


Rational people can change their minds

James Wright’s article about how he was wrong about gun control and why it is doomed to failure, from the 90’s.  The years change, but the song remains the same:

Always use a proper holster – “When Bad Holsters Turn Worse: This Guy Took One Right In The A$$, Here’s Why A Proper Holster Is Essential”

Every time I see someone using an Uncle Mikes style bargain basement soft nylon holster, I try to educate them on why this is a bad idea.

Here’s living proof of why:

“I holstered the firearm in the new holster at home and made sure it was secure and comfortable, and then drove three miles over to our storage facility. I spent 10 minutes in the storage facility, just climbing around stuff and going through boxes. When I left, I walked outside and opened the car door. I went to go get in the car and just heard a loud bang,” Matt explained.


“There’s no way that just happened. That did not just happen. And then I grabbed by butt and felt a hole in my pants and said, ‘Ok that just happened.’”

Dude took a round right through his left butt cheek because his holster didn’t fit right and ‘something’ got in the trigger area.  Draw your own conclusions as to whether the shirt is actually the culprit.

More than this, though, a soft holster won’t stay open if you have to draw the weapon and need to then reholster after the threat is over.  You have to use two hands to reholster, or remove the holster entirely, insert the weapon, then put the holster back on.  This is a no-go.

There are three essential pieces to carrying a sidearm:

  1. The pistol
  2.  The holster, which keeps your firearm where you need it.
  3.  The belt, which attaches the holster to your body.

Too many times I see people buy a quality firearm, then cheap out on the holster and belt.  They will use a cheap cotton belt from Old Navy or Sears and then be surprised their pants don’t stay up and the holster flops around.   Their holster doesn’t secure the weapon correctly (see above) or they can’t get a consistent draw.  Etc etc etc.

The guy above has an expensive and painful reminder of his mistakes. Do yourself a favor and don’t repeat them.

CCW success story: Bank Robber shot by civilian with CCW

Just another example of a good guy with a gun:

Local 4 has learned the robber walked into the bank and announced a hold-up. He received money from a teller and then pointed the gun at the customer, who shot him. [The CCW holder] shot him in both arms and the leg.

If you are going to carry, carry everywhere.  The gun does you no good if you leave it at home.

A redditor gets it right about mental health screenings before buying guns

There’s quite a bit of discussion going on right now about what can be done in response to the Charleston SC church shooting.  Many people are wanting mental health screenings before firearms purchasing.  One redditor gave a particularly insightful response:

I don’t have a solution, but there are a lot of comments about the role of mental health professions in addressing the problem of gun violence that I think are short-sighted. I am a mental health professional and I cannot see how a requirement of sound mental status for gun ownership or purchase could be achieved. Here is why:

First, the presumption that mental health professionals are good at predicting future behavior is not true. It is easy to look back at a person’s history and see all the “red flags” and assume that someone should have known he would be a murderer and should have done something to prevent it. I have seen many patients with mental illness; I have never suspected that any of them would murder someone. But one of them surely could’ maybe even years later. And someone would suggest that I should have predicted it. Am I then culpable?

Second, shifting the responsibility of whether a person should be allowed to purchase a gun to a mental health professional is a huge liability for that person. So I would have to decide whether a person’s emotional problems would make them likely to commit gun violence. And, because I can’t know that with any certainty, I would have to error on the side of caution (for my protection), and report that person to whomever the state requires. Now that person who is probably at low threat of killing someone can’t buy a gun because the liability is so high that I can’t take the personal risk. No clinician wants that burden, liability, and ethical dilemma and I would personally move to a different state if that became a requirement.

Third, who gets to set the criteria for whether a person’s mental health status should restrict gun rights? If it is at the clinician’s discretion, it will occur arbitrarily. And the need to be “better safe than sorry” will result in a lot of people on a list that will never commit a violent crime. One might think that it should be based on mental health diagnosis. But guess what? Everyone who seeks treatment for a psychological issue gets a diagnosis; that’s how insurance claims are made. Which diagnoses should restrict rights? Mood disorders? Personality disorders? Psychotic disorders? If the person is treated successfully, are their rights restored? How would that process occur?

Let’s say we decide that we don’t want people with a history of mental health issues to be put on a list that prevents gun purchase. Then someone who wants to buy a gun should have to pass a mental health screening prior to purchase, right? What private clinicians are going to volunteer for that gig? None. So the state will have to employ their own clinicians to do the screenings. And when those clinicians have to weigh the risk of not identifying a mental health problem against clearing you to buy a gun, anything in your history could be used as justification to deny you your rights. Hope you never got arrested for anything.

I don’t want the mentally ill to buy guns. I don’t want regular folks with intermittent emotional problems to be restricted from buying guns. And our ability to distinguish between these groups is limited. Having mental health clinicians making decisions about gun rights has serious problems.

Another redditor responded to this:

I also have an additional issue on this. If mental health professionals have the ability to take away/prevent the ownership of firearms, it means that anyone with a firearm is less likely to go to a professional when they need help. Thinking along the lines of, “I think I’m dealing with depression, but if I go to the doctor and he agrees, he may take away my guns,” wouldn’t be uncommon.

Isn’t that literally the opposite of what we want to happen? Putting a potential penalty *that people care about* on getting help seems to me to be the opposite of what we want to do if our goal is getting people help.

And got this in reply:

Spot on. And this distrust already happens because of real consequences for seeking mental health treatment. It can affect your insurability (life, medical, and disability) and ability to get a government job. If you ever got divorced, it could affect custody. Even though I work in the field and believes in the benefits of mental health treatment, I honestly don’t blame people who think the risks outweigh the potential benefits. The risk of losing a constitutional right is no joke and feeds into the belief held by many that there are broad-reaching efforts to disarm Americans.

Keeping a low profile is part of avoiding trouble: “Two charged in theft of guns” after they targeted vehicles with pro gun stickers

Carrying a gun is a lifestyle choice.  Part of that lifestyle is being aware of your surroundings and understanding what’s going on around you.

Every advantage that you give to the bad guys is an opportunity for them to put you, or someone else, into the grave.  These gun owners put their pride ahead of being prudent and had a naive “it can’t happen to me” mindset:

The Cleveland Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division has connected the dots on a rash of motor vehicle burglaries targeting gun owners.

The burglaries began in late February and continued through the early part of this month, resulting in 16 weapons being stolen from 13 cars and trucks.

Warrants were issued for two suspects, James “Andy” Evans, 32, of Cleveland and Tyler Maxwell, 33, of Cleveland.

According to CPD Detective Bill Hicks, the two and a possible third suspect are believed to have been driving from parking lot to parking lot during daytime hours searching for guns in vehicles.

The men reportedly selected their targets by looking for cars and trucks that displayed stickers that might indicate gun ownership, such as NRA, pro-gun slogans and various gun brand logos.

According to police reports, all of the 13 vehicles burglarized had such stickers, and some of the victims even left handguns in plain sight.,6788

Pro gun stickers are giant “PLEASE ROB ME!” indicators.  Even worse, these guys may have endangered their families or loved ones – they were deliberately targeted because they advertised they own firearms without caution.   The criminals had plenty of time on their hands to search for these vehicles; it wouldn’t have taken them any effort to crack the glove boxes and take photos of the vehicle registration and then visit the address listed.

Hopefully this serves as an object lesson: don’t draw attention to yourself.  Your biggest ally is to not let the bad guy prior knowledge of your capabilities.