Women get tons of useless advice about how to “protect” ourselves. Whether or not we follow the advice, we’re still blamed for our own assaults. We all have the right to assert our boundaries, but saying that we can defend ourselves sounds like victim-blaming. So how do we reconcile those two messages? One way is through feminist, empowerment-based self-defense.
“Why can’t we tell young women how to keep themselves safer?” Because for decades, survivors have been attacked, blamed, and shamed with questions and comments like, “What did you expect? You were drunk.” But is it possible to help women be safer without engaging in victim blaming? I think so. Here’s what we’ve learned about helping women and members of other oppressed groups claim their power.
Our warped notion of how “dangerous” Black men are leads us, like George Zimmerman, to focus a lot of anxiety on them. It leads to the modern equivalent of lynching. It perpetuates racism. It cuts us off from other human beings. When we act out of our fear and hatred, out of our unexamined programming, we’re being George Zimmerman. Here’s another thing: It doesn’t help you be safer.
Just say “no” – it’s easy to say, difficult to do. We’ve been socialized to value other people’s needs and feelings, often more than our own. So much so that many of us have a hard time knowing what we feel and want in any given situation. But the beauty of having a firm “no” is that it allows you to say “yes” to the things you do want in your life. So here’s some tips on how to say “no.”