Posts tagged rape prevention
Posts tagged rape prevention
(Sigh. I’ll never stop blogging about IMPACT.)
Yesterday I started a new course as an assistant. The course is for young teens, ages 12-15. This is my first teen course, and it is different from the women’s course.
*For those who are unfamiliar with IMPACT - it is a self-defense course for women, specially designed for rape prevention.
The girls amaze me, one by one, with the amount of courage they demosntrate on the mats. We present them with inconceivable challenges. We ask them to willingly turn their backs and allow an armored mugger to grab them from behind. Furthermore, we ask them to fight back when he does. And they do. Every one of them. They whine and they screech as teenage girls should, but they keep fighting until their attacker is out cold. And they don’t give up. It is inspiring and empowering to know that we have girls like that among us.
I gave up a lot to be in this course - mainly my sanity, because it means doing four thirteen-hour days in a row this week. I have considered dropping out of the course several times, but now that we’re half way done, I feel a responsibility to finish what I’ve started. In the spirit of these incredible girls, to abandon them on the path to strength would be to spit in their faces. I want to be there for them, to be there with them when they reach that moment when they feel their own power.
Many dilemmas arise when teaching self defense to teenage girls. The main question, especially when dealing with 12-year-olds fresh out of childhood, is how much material to give over this early on. On the one hand, we have a responsibility to prepare them for what’s out there. On the other hand, we have to tread carefully so we do not blur the line between sexuality - which is a stranger to many of them - and rape. Girls at age twelve are mainly trying to understand what’s going on with their own body parts. We can not discuss the details of a rape scene with someone who is not even faimiliar with the anatomy, and it is not fair to try. So in a way, teen courses are more challenging that adult courses. Although the material is less disturbing, the questions of the students are much more difficult to answer. During today’s class, I was asked, “But who would rape a twelve-year-old?”
Naturally, my association was a Harry Potter reference.
Harry Potter: And how is theory supposed to prepare us for what’s out there?
Dolores Umbridge: There is nothing out there, dear! Who do you imagine would want to attack children like yourself?
Harry Potter: I don’t know, maybe, Lord Voldemort!
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Because the answer to the girls’ question is, in fact, Lord Voldemort. He is the symbol of evil in the world - the reminder that there are terrible things out there which we must not ignore. It is easier to see the good in everyone than to confront the hatred in people’s hearts. It is our responsibility to give our children the knowledge that they may encounter evil, and in turn, the ability to protect themselves against it. Denying Lord Voldemort’s existence might make them happier for a year or two, but in the long run, we would be better off announcing to the world that he is back, that he has power, and to remind ourselves that we are a worthy match for him.
“Does anything hurt?” the instructor asks kindly.
“No,” I reply, trembling slightly.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes,” I say, not entirely sure if I mean it.
Before I have time to breathe, I am grabbed from behind by a man who is twice my size and in full armor. His arms are strong, locked around my chest.
“HANDS!” yells the instructor. I raise my hands slightly, but I can only move my forearms because my upper arms are trapped beneath his.
“WAIST!” yells the instructor. I shove my hips backward at the man holding me. He staggers slightly but his grip remains firm. I have gained an inch of space, just enough to slip my arm out of his grasp and slap him hard in the -
“GROIN!” yells the instructor.
The man releases me as his hands drop to his groin, which is supposedly throbbing painfully. I turn around, hands raised, prepared to protect, prepared to punch hard.
I punch him in the face.
Again? Yep. Because my knee is right there. It’s an easy target, and my legs are strong, so I can hit hard.
Because, having been hit in the groin twice, the man has bent over and his head is hanging conveniently next to my knee. I knee him in the head. He falls over onto his back, arms at his helmet, the sign that, were he without his padded armor, he would have been unconscious.
Step 1: HANDS. When I raise my hands, I open up my lungs so I can continue breathing. The instructor explained that when a person locks his arms around another’s chest, they can cause them to stop breathing. And if you stop breathing, you lose, and the goal is not to lose. The goal is to win.
Step 2: WAIST. The waist is probably the strongest part of a woman’s body, and when it is thrust backward into you, you’re going to jump back. At the beginning of class, during warm ups, the instructor made us shout, “I LOVE MY WAIST!” Because it is important to know where you are strong, and like it.
Step 3: GROIN. Well, as we know, that’s a fairly obvious weakness in a man. It’s position is perfect, opposite the woman’s waist: The woman’s strength versus the man’s weakness. Of course she’ll win, if you look at it that way.
Step 4: HEAD! Another weakness in a man. Nobody like being punched in the nose, or the jaw, or the eyes, or the head. It hurts. A lot. Might even make you cry, or bleed.
In IMPACT we learn to match a woman’s strengths to a man’s weaknesses. Usually, in everyday life, they are matched the other way; a man’s strengths to a woman’s weaknesses - which leads us to believe the common stereotype that men are stronger than women. The truth is, men are stronger in the upper body. Women are stronger in the lower body. So when a man and a woman arm wrestle, of course he’s going to win - upper body strength! But what if they were “leg wrestling”? Lower body strength. The woman would probably win.
Now, you might say, “That’s not fair!” It’s not fair to match one person’s strength against the other’s weakness. But may I calmly point out that SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS NOT FAIR either. If someone is trying to rape you, you’re allowed to play dirty.