I was asked a question:
You keep saying you’re not a ‘women’s self defence’ instructor. Why not?
Simply put, “Women’s Self-Defence” can be one of two things: it can be a women-only safer-space, in which case I am not allowed to be there, or it can be a contribution to rape culture; a perpetuation of a system wherein men get to set rules for women in order for women to remain safe from sexual assault (the efficacy of those rules being disputable).
Now, that isn’t to say I cannot teach women -I most certainly can, and do- or that I cannot address issues that disproportionately affect women, like sexual assault. It’s important I do it in ways that recognize a few key realities:
1) I, as a man, cannot occupy a women-only safer space.
2) Power-hoarding on the part of men contributes to all spaces being unwelcoming and unsafe.
3) Men have the most power in preventing sexual assault because we are the ones who harbour the offenders.
4) While I would never tell anyone to do something they don’t feel safe doing, most of the “advice” being trotted out to women is victim-blaming in nature, tends to be either ineffective or outright *damaging,* and should be demystified and debunked.
5) All risk-reductive strategies should be evidence-based and supported, not just a list of “alwayses and nevers.”
Beyond that, the law is the law, movement is movement, and counter-violence is counter-violence – it really doesn’t need to be gendered in order to be effective.
Now, I have a question for you:
What are some ways men can make spaces safer and more inviting for women?