Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Miss Nevada and Self-Defense

by Julie Baldwin and Katie Robison
The Corner with a View
Laughter is Love

Trigger warning: rape discussion

Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez, is the the new Miss USA. Sanchez made headlines when she advocated women learning self-defense as a way to defend one's self against sexual attack. Miss Nevada is a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo, and her response is being construed as "victim blaming". Let's discuss why this is not a "win" for rape culture, but a practical measure for all women.

The Washington Post reported,
Miss Nevada, the ultimate winner, was asked about the epidemic of sexual assault on campuses. Rumer Willis inquired why colleges have “swept it under the rug.” 
This is actually a serious question. 
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public,” Nia  Sanchez said. “But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”
The comment the writer of the aforementioned article followed up by saying,
This is not a bad answer, although the problem of prevention isn’t a simple question of confident women learning self-defense techniques against Stranger Danger (Sanchez’s professed specialty). For one, it usually isn’t a stranger. For another, the onus shouldn’t have to be on women to become self-defense experts. It’s on everyone to establish a baseline of consent.
But the general backlash is clear: Sanchez is victim blaming.

This, however, was not the case. Miss USA is a role model for women and girls everywhere, and each winner takes this role very seriously. Miss Nevada is a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo, it is only natural that she would take the stance for all women having practical measures for situations such as these.

She did not say, "What happened to them is their fault, they should have done something," nor did she say, "She should not have been drinking/wearing that/ alone.."

That is victim blaming. If that was what she meant, she would have said it.

I imagine her response being more like, "I have this all this wonderful knowledge which makes me a strong and confident woman. I wish all women have what I have."

The statistics say 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted, and a majority of the time, coming from someone they know. From what I know of women unable or unwilling to report their attack (usually because they feel shamed), those numbers are very accurate, if not higher. It is very difficult to prove rape as well, which leads to victims being unable to receive the justice they deserve.

The goal of knowing self-defense is not to beat one's attacker to a pulp, but to disarm them enough to get away. An ideal fight should be under ten seconds and it is important to anyone to know how to take a punch or deflect someone in a way that causes minimal harm to you, and perhaps even the person attacking you.

It's important to know how to defend yourself because if someone disrespects your space, that gives you the right to disrespect theirs.

Rape is a crime. Self-defense is a preventative measure; it will not always be enough, especially is drugs are involved, but it can help avoid a very terrible event from happening, if possible.

Sexual assault on a college campus -- or anywhere -- is a hot topic. In an ideal world, women should not have to defend themselves. Not knowing self-defense skill is NOT why women are raped -- women are raped because someone enjoys taking physical control over them, forcing himself (or herself) on a person and by not asking permission. It is a violation of personal freedom and body.

That being said, self defense is important. It gives women the confidence to say, "This... THIS makes me uncomfortable. Touch me again and I will break your arm."  And odds are, the person in question likes their arm more than they like violating your space.

Let's empower women!

Julie Baldwin, one of the co-founders of The Mirror Magazine, and Katie Robison are sisters. Katie is the younger, and slightly more vulgar sister of Julie Baldwin. She enjoys spending time with her dog and receiving wedding proposals from Kenyan men. (She has very soft hair, they told her so.) She also has a blog, or as she like to say, bloggenschlagen, which is linked in the dubblydoo. Katie did taekwondo and achieved brown belt in grade school; she is currently in self-defense class, which is a mixture of Kung Fu, Systema and Chi Gong.

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