Self-defense and acquaintance rape

One of the myths I’ve seen about women’s* self-defense has been that it is only effective if the attacker is the “stranger in the ally.” I’ve heard this, even, from some self-defense instructors which is truly sad (not the really GOOD ones, though), but it’s most often heard from those giving reasons why it’s pointless to bother to learn to defend oneself. It’s usually the main reason, even, going along with “it’ll make you take too many risks” and “a small woman with training is never going to beat a big man if he is trained too.” The theory is that as most rapes and other assaults against women are committed by dates, long-term boyfriends, husbands, family members, supposed friends, business associates that either women are going to be unable to use such methods against someone they know and possibly care about and/or most of these assaults are really violent enough to warrant the abilities gained in self-defense training.

Why do these naysayers believe that a woman trained in self-defense is going to be unable to use it on a man who they know just because they know him? This seems to go back to the “nice girls don’t hurt anyone” belief, that it’s innate in our being as women not to cause anyone physical damage. However, we probably could, apparently, learn to hurt the unknown stranger in the dark alley. But never, ever, ever the guy that thinks he can hurt us even if he knows us.

I believe that part of self-defense training is that we learn that anyone who causes us harm is someone we can hurt in order to prevent ourselves from being hurt. It doesn’t matter if we know him or not, if he’s hurting us we have to get over any notion that we can’t hurt him. This must be part of the process. Even if, ESPECIALLY IF, the abuse is long term.

But the notion that “date rape” and other acquaintance rape and abuse doesn’t get violent has struck me as totally odd. Because battery and rape are always hand-in-hand. Yes, some date rape happens with only verbal coercion, but if that doesn’t work it can quickly escalate. Even some situations where consensual sex is intended by the woman, things become violent…as is the case of someone I know whose date found himself on the floor after letting her know she had no choice in the matter, he liked it rough, on the woman, and fully intended to hurt her. She had full-impact training and she was not the one in the most pain by the time she walked out the door. (Remember, you can say “no” even after you said “yes,” ANY time you no longer, for any reason, want to continue.)

Even in the most “charming” coercive behavior there is that threat that things could “get ugly” if the woman doesn’t go for it. Many women who gave in to verbal demands, with no overt violent threats, have noted that even without it being stated they were afraid of being physically hurt if they didn’t give in. In fact, I’d say nearly all. That “I’d be helpless if it got that far, he’s bigger and stronger” message that is so prevalent in our society.

By having the knowledge that they have the ability to fight back if the man turns violent, women may be more confident in their “nos.” Many times it probably will end there, other times perhaps they’ll have to actually use those skills. But they’ll have them. And either way, they’re more likely to come out of it not having been raped.

Which makes me wonder…is that the sort of “risks” we’re not supposed to want to take? Being more confident in the things we’re doing, around the people we are with? I think if those are “risks” they’re more than well worth taking.

*I’m maintaining the language that “he” is the attacker and “she” is the potential victim in part because this is a blog about physical feminism and mostly because these are still the higher odds. This is not meant to negate in any way that women are abused by other women, men by women, men by other men…or any possible combination. We do still live in a world where women are considered weaker, men stronger and this is the basis of much of the abuse women face from men and why the odds are still in favor of this mix. Physical feminism, in fact, seeks to remedy that by empowering women to find their physical strength….we do have it!

Copyright © 2008 Kym Lambert

Doomsday and my new girlfriend

We watched Doomsday today. I went into it expecting to hate it, due to many reviews. Now, normally, I don’t pay much attention to reviews, but these included those whose opinions I do often agree on and many women who like strong female characters and those who love post-Apocalyptic movies. And they all hated it.

Okay, one thing pegged right is that it is unoriginal. But I always laugh at anyone expecting originality…seriously, there is no such thing. Not since the written word. Nothing has been original since long before writing, it’s just a matter of story telling. I suppose what is meant is “I don’t like the way this story teller tells this same old story.” Fair enough….but I do wish people would stop using “unoriginal” in reviews. It’s pointless.

Sorry…it’s a pet peeve.

This is a self-admitted homage movie to begin with. So “originality” is even more of a non-issue. Yes, LOT’S of Escape from New York/LA in this…but I can totally live with the idea of a female Snake Pliskin. Yup, Mad Max is there. Personally, I do NOT get the references made to Resident Evil, other than it being a fairly recent strong female role offering, or, especially, 28 Days Later, other than a virus (but in this doesn’t create “zombification” only death and all violence from the infected is response to the government and military treatment they get. Oh, perhaps anything about any disaster taking place in Britain has to be related to 28 Days Later? I don’t get it…but maybe it was one of the movies Neil Marshall (writer/director, also of Dog Soldiers and Descent both of which had initially made me hopeful about this one) intended to homage…but I don’t see it. Sorry.

Anyway. Of course, why I love it the most is all about Rhona Mitra as Major Eden Sinclair. She is a wonderful female action actress, having both acting chops and a great physique. She not only is muscular, with good arms but a totally enviable back, but is able to move and carry herself like an action hera. Her character has grit, something she’s shown before (the physique I can’t remember seeing, although I do know she did Lara Croft appearances, well, I doubt she needed it for that either actually…just the breast implants which, honestly makes me sad that she felt she had to do).

I also loved seeing Malcolm McDowell as a megalomaniac who takes over a castle and makes himself out to be a medieval king. I just know so many who would would do this if trapped in a disease ravaged Scotland. And, well, it’s just such cheesily good role for him.

As an aside, I had a personal laugh from the Mad Max styled cannibalistic Marauders in Glasgow, when the leader, Sol (Craig Conway) is up on stage. Some time ago I wrote in a survivalist group meaning to say “fighting off desperate reavers” and left out the first “e” …making it “fighting off desperate ravers.” This led to many jokes about being bombarded with glow sticks and the like. But HERE was the reality…we do have to fear the ravers! At least when they get a taste for human flesh. Okay, not as funny to anyone else…but I must laugh for years over bad typos I make.

I don’t know, I also found the idea of England locking off Scotland the way they did somehow pointed. And I like anything that shows corrupt government types. (and yes, I can see some Land of the Dead…but not the zombie movies usually mentioned…well, I guess there is the locking up Raccoon City in Resident Evil but not as much due to some of the general way it was done).

Oh, big personal pet peeve. Yes, as a female Snake Pliskin, Sinclair does have only one eye, her left. She removes and uses her artificial eye, which also serves as a camera, to see around corners and such. So, she’s not got it in when she’s running round with a gun..including with longarms. Uh, and there she is with in held right-eyed. Why the fuck can’t anyone in the movie and TV world figure out that people actually can fucking shoot from their left side! This pisses me off! There is no fucking reason for this. Some people with two eyes are left-eyed (you probably aren’t surprised that I am…hence my annoyance about this) so certainly someone who ONLY has a left eye should shoot from the left! With handguns it doesn’t matter, with longarms it DOES. (btw, yes, this includes the makers of LOST…there’s even an LOLOST type screen cap of Mikhail with the rifle lined up to his non-existent eye *sob*)

No, this is not a great movie. But it’s enjoyable to watch if you truly love the genre and strong women…at least Aaron and I found it so. It may be too much of a cult homage to ever have a cult following itself. But Mitra really will should she get the right roles.

Because ultimately, it’s Mitra who will get me to buy this movie to add to my “woman warrior” line up…although I’ll likely wait until I find it real cheap (which I just tend to do). She seriously has to continue playing action roles, we need this! We need someone like this doing action. And this makes me so sad that this movie was so panned and flopped, that even genre fans talked other genre fans out of it (and, honestly I’m really disappointed in some writers that they didn’t indicate being impressed by her, because she’s worth raving about! FUCK!). Because I seriously want this woman to get these kinds of roles, preferably in really well done genre movies.

Mitra is totally my top vote for who should have been cast in a (far better written, of course) Sarah Connor TV series. She’s got it all. The only problem I might see is that she does bear some facial resemblance to Linda Hamilton, not a lot, but enough that it might be seen as her being too much like her. But the real thing is that she’s got both the physique AND the grit.

I am totally in love.

(Cross-posted in all my blogs Women of Strength LJ and all Sarah Connor Charm School fora.)

Copyright © 2008 Kym Lambert