“The Damsel in Distress theory”
Long gone are the days of women waiting to be rescued, or are they?
While the media is shedding much-needed light on issues such as rape and harassment, it’s time to start teaching our girls to defend themselves. Too long has the world relied on bystander involvement and emerging technologies to keep safe. Women and girls can learn to become their own ally in a precarious assault or harassment circumstance.
The body’s natural response to a dangerous situation is to go into fight or flight mode.- Now if there were experience and ability associated with one’s “fight” capability it could prevent thousands from becoming victims. Through self-defense one can make it clear to the perpetrator that they cannot be overpowered.
Passive tasks and degrading gender roles, condition women to feel physical strength is for men only. While this logic is becoming more and more antiquated, the long-term psychological effects are still prevalent in many societies. Girls now can build furniture, take out the trash, be muscular, and be strong. The world no longer lives in a time period with such great gender divides. Therefore, it is imperative to encourage women and girls to learn self-defense as well. The greatest value in self-defense is the power of feeling able and independent, knowing that you can help yourself.
Women and girls should no longer have to live under the advisements of not going anywhere alone, in the dark or meeting strangers without supervision. Alternatively, women should equip themselves with the skills both physically and mentally to make the right decisions. Such skills are useful to defend themselves should they be in danger or under attack.
The Facts in relation to assault and harassment
Per the University of Oregon study, “50-60% of women that have taken a single self-defense class, are less likely to be assaulted and one-third are more likely to report an attempted rape”.
Equipping women with the tools to defend themselves is imperative when examining current social conditions across the world. Some countries are making progress in re-defining formerly patriarchal societies. They are actively providing women with anonymous health centers, safer means of transportation, and attempts to equalize wages. Women trained in self-defense are able to mitigate the likelihood of their assault.
According to a study done by The University of Oregan, self-defense is correlated with increasing the level of confidence and agility. This mental-physical relationship encourages women and girls to fight for themselves and speak up because they feel they are capable of doing so. Individuals that feel comfortable and confident in their ability will be much more likely to use it as opposed to feeling unprepared and overwhelmed.
While Sayfty and other global organizations aim to provide self-defense workshops globally, resources and centers are scarce. Here you can familiarize yourself with basic self-defense techniques that could potentially save a life.
You are YOUR own Superhero!
Media often creates characters that give children the notion that if they are in danger, a fictional figure of sorts will come and save them. As children age, we continue to further this false notion. We convince women and girls to avoid normal situations instead of equipping them to handle potential assault situations.
I have 8 years of formal Karate training under my belt. It’s helped with my confidence and made me stronger both physically and mentally. I am now able to travel, work, and socialize at all times of the day across countries. What started as an extracurricular activity with my elder brother quickly turned into a principle. It taught me discipline, strength, and confidence. For me, it less about the adrenaline, more about understanding how my body works and interpreting someone’s next move. Self-defense techniques have assisted me in trusting my intuition. I am able to make decisions based on non-verbal cues and tendencies the other individuals are presenting. Consequently, I feel less scared of potential assault situations.
Luckily, I have not had to use physical force to prevent an attack. My willingness to fight back has saved me from various assaults. Most attack with the notion that we are “prey”. But the empowerment that comes from being willing and able throws the attacker off.
Here is another online youtube video that shows simple self-defense tips. Additionally, in remote regions, women and girls can also build their physical endurance and agility through regular routine workouts to strengthen their bodies. This not only will increase their self-confidence but also their chances at survival should they be in a life or death situation.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing I am my own best chance at survival is uncanny. Be your own best chance too. Do not raise a damsel, raise a lioness.
About the Author
Jashima Wadehra is a content curator, writer and social media consultant passionate about women’s equality and ending gender-based violence. She aims to use the digital space to connect, empower and affect individuals and global issues via the visual medium. She hopes to forge long-term relationships creating a #sayfty safe space for women around the world. Follow her work at thechatterboxlife.com and @thechatterboxlife on Instagram.
Blog Picture Credit: Ryan Brown/UN Women
This blog was edited by Dr. Shruti Kapoor