The real reason women are targeted for violence
Last week I was at a screening for a short documentary I participated in, called On the Use of Self Defense, directed by Hannah Kugel (and with an incredible soundtrack by Georgia Johnston). The documentary features some footage of me training in the dojo with a couple of my male martial arts colleagues.
In the Q&A after the screening, one woman asked me, “do you ever feel safe? Because in the film you’re throwing around these guys, and you seem really tough, so you must feel pretty safe. Do you?” Another woman chimed in that “it seems that with your kind of training, like with self-defense training in general, you are less likely to be attacked because you walk differently, you’re moving differently in your body, you’re giving off a different vibe.”
I have been training in martial arts for over 20 years. I have three black belts. I know how to use weapons. I developed an entire self-defense program for women. So I should feel safe, right?
Telling women that they are more likely to be attacked because they don’t walk with confidence is another form of victim-blaming.
And yet, I am still harassed on the street, I still get grabbed and groped on a crowded subway car, I get leered at and catcalled and touched inappropriately and threatened. Even after all my training, I am just as vulnerable to violence as everyone else.
Women are more likely to be attacked because attackers know that women are less likely to know how to effectively defend themselves.
In the training footage in the documentary, one of my training partners is a guy named Kalle. He’s the same age as me, has about the same amount of training as me, and is about the same size as me — which for a German man, is small.
When I first met Kalle a few years ago, I asked him how he got into martial arts. He told me that, as he was growing up, at some point he understood that he simply wasn’t going…