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Quickie: “Self Defense and Marginalized Communities”

January 23, 2013

I had been meaning to write something on this general theme, as much as it’s been coming up lately, but here’s something I shared on G+ a little while ago, with a little editing (as usual).

(One piece, with some excellent comments, which also got me fired up when I was too low on spoons to do much about it: Rape Prevention Aimed At Rapists Does Work: The “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign)

Another excellent piece from Sparky, crossposted at Womanist Musings: Self Defense and Marginalized Communities »

I don’t want to have to carry weapons all the time to stay safe, while my attacker needs only carry theirs when they plan to hurt me. I want the focus to be on people not attacking us, I want that to be the priority, that to be where the debate is, that to be where the money is sunk. I want the attackers to have a harder time procuring items that can hurt or kill me. I want the items they do acquire to be less deadly. These will give me a higher chance of survival and survival with the least injuries.

Exactly. And I am tending toward the conclusion, as someone recently put it with regards to consent, that we’re in a remedial place as a society when it comes to violent behavior in general — and ability to behave responsibly, overall, with easy means of hurting other people. That’s had me rethinking some basic assumptions, recently.

It’s pretty to think of noble, ferocious minorities walking the street courageously, vanquishing those who try to harm us. But that simply isn’t what we see over and over and, frankly, if it did happen that minority would be thrown into a prison cell so fast they’d bounce off the back wall.

Besides the kind of outsider victim blaming Sparky talks about in this piece, it can also provide a false sense of security and feeling that you have more control over a bad situation, from the standpoint of the ones who are living in extra danger. Unfortunately, also a special kind of victim blaming closer to home, at times, when the “noble, ferocious” act doesn’t protect you.

I grew up with a lot of that version of self-defense (and defending others) as a responsibility, with acknowledgement that doing the “Right Thing” might well land you in prison one of these days. Complete with a decent bit of self-defense training at home, and the expectation of carrying around something you can use as a weapon, in a pinch. That kind of trained hypervigilance is a messed-up way to live, and it is not our job to teach jerks that hurting people like us is not in their best interest. (Ineffective as that is, anyway.) Responsibility here lies on the ones going around harming other people, period.

In some cases, it’s an understandable response to history, but that doesn’t make it “right” or even effective. Fighting back doesn’t magically solve a systemic problem, or even keep you — much less other people like you — from getting targeted and hurt by violent jackasses who are looking for somebody to hurt.

And we’re back around to confusing risk and threat management. [Related: ]

Probably should have turned this straight into a blog post, but… *wry smile*


With any luck, I’ll get back around to writing more on some of this, including the remedial level of dealing with violent behavior thing. (And, hopefully, I can even find that link again, dealing with consent.)


ETA: Another good one: Victim-blaming under the guise of “personal responsibility” aka, That’s not how cause and effect works

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