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Create a cultural defense instead of self defense

I posted an article on our Facebook page recently about a free self-defense course. I hesitated sharing the article and considered paraphrasing the bullet points, however, because of the second line in the lead: “If you're female and run alone early in the morning or late at night, you could be putting yourself in a vulnerable position.”
Every other line reads like Journalism 101 – who, what, when, where, why – but the lead sends the same, tired message, “It’s a dangerous, man’s world out there, ladies, so you girls had best learn how to throw a punch.”
Conversation quickly followed after I hit post, and I started thinking about what promoting a self-defense course implied. Every course I’d ever taken was about blocks, blows and throws – essentially creating an opportunity to get away.
However, one must understand that nearly 70 percent of sexual assaults are carried out by someone who has spent time building the trust of the victim—a family member, friend or acquaintance—someone you would not arm yourself against because they are not a stranger.
Self-defense has a place, it serves a purpose—boosting confidence, increasing ones sense of safety, feeling strong or even a step in the path to healing from past violence. It isn’t about violence. It’s about physical, mental and emotional confidence. The more confident a person becomes through knowledge of self-defense, the less likely they are to ever have to use it.
Heightened awareness, the self-defense technique to recognize a threat before it becomes a problem, keeps people safe more than any punch. Vulnerability, however, is in the eye of the offender, so let’s stop enabling offenders by defining what individuals can do to not be raped. Instead of teaching self-defense against rapists, let’s teach cultural-defense against creating rapists in the first place.