Thursday, April 05, 2007

Taking Care of Yourself

So, tell me, who taught this tiger to hunt and to fight? To be violent, when it is necessary? Was it the violent father who taught this? No, because tigers, like most animals, are not raised by their fathers. They are raised by their mothers. Which has to mean that Mamas are fierce.

And, polar bears are pretty fierce as well. Like the tiger, these guys learned all that they know about fighting from their mother. A female, you know.

I'm mentioning this because, among human beings, the female is considered the weaker sex. Most of us have no idea how to fight and couldn't teach our children how to protect ourselves. But, this is not natural. Nature has made us fierce, and culture has made us weak and helpless.

In his book, "Protecting the Gift," Gavin de Becker tells about addressing large audiences of women and asking them to raise their hands if they believe that they could kill someone. No hands go up. And then, one woman will say, "Well, if someone were threatening my child" and another will agree and suddenly the audience is full of hands that are up. We know we could kill to protect our children. de Becker tells of a mother who was walking her very young daughter to a dark parking lot after a movie when she realized a man was following them. She got her child into the car, and the man grabbed the woman and tried to pull her out. She was driving out of the parking lot, thinking, "If I need to, I can shove these car keys into his eye" when she realized that she had shoved those car keys into both of his eyes.

But you know, had she been alone, she would not have fought like that. She would not have known that she could fight like that. In fact, as de Becker mentions in his book "The Gift of Fear," human beings are the only creatures that put themselves in danger to avoid hurting someone's feelings. Like when a woman gets onto an elevator alone with a man who frightens her because if she didn't he might think she didn't trust him. Sometimes the women who do that end up dead. No tiger would get into a small space that smelled of an enemy. Tigers, who are just about as fierce as any animal ever, don't care if they hurt anything's feelings. (Or if they look foolish.) Only women have been taught that other people's feelings are more important than our lives.

If we really want to protect our daughters, we need to make sure that they know that they can fight like that. That they can protect themselves. That they do not have to be victims. They need to know self defense. Here is an excellent short article Self Defense
Use Your Head

People (guys as well as girls) who are threatened and fight back "in self-defense" actually risk making a situation worse. The attacker, who is already edgy and pumped up on adrenaline — and who knows what else — may become even more angry and violent. The best way to handle any attack or threat of attack is to try to get away. This way, you're least likely to be injured.
The author first tells why you should use your smarts before your body, and then goes on to talk about the importance of taking a class and practicing the moves so that if you do have to become physical, you are confident and you can.

I took a class about 20 years ago on how to say no to a rapist and live. We were taught that we probably weren't stronger than an attacker, but we also probably were smarter. That the attacker was prepared for all of the responses he could predict. What he wasn't prepared for were the responses he couldn't predict. So, a few months after that, when a man jumped out from behind a cinder block fence and grabbed me, I dropped to the ground, started to howl like dog, and shoved grass into my mouth as fast as I could. Scared the poor man to death! He turned around and ran. If I would do that, how could he tell what else I might do?

If I were taking a class now, I would take one of those where you train with an "assailant" in a padded suit and learn to really take him down. It is important to know that you can do it, and from all I've been able to learn that comes with practice. The padded suit allows you to practice all out.

So, I would like to suggest that we remember that every violent wild animal out there is trained in how to use that violence by its mother, which means that violence is a quality of the female. Protective violence is a good thing, and we need not to train it out of our daughters. They aren't safe with the results of teaching them to be ladies.


J at said...

Maya took a class a few years ago that was supposedly karate, but was much more about 'stranger danger', knowing that if your tummy felt weird about someone, get out of there, and don't worrry about hurting their feelings. Trust your gut. The teacher said, you're a child, there's no way you're going to be stronger than an adult. And then he proved it to them by holding them by the arm while they tried their hardest to get away. That part was kind of scary, actually. Then he showed them how to not get caught, and some moves they could make if the attacker let their guard down for even a second. Above all, he said, yell yell yell...yell Fire! Yell, I don't know you, you're not my father/mother! And run. That was a great class, I think.

Rain said...

This was a really good post and something I taught my daughter and my parents taught me.

Given I have a gun for self defense when I am alone, I had to decide before that I could use it and kill. The class on concealed weapon permits taught that if you can't use the gun to kill, don't have one. Decide beforehand as you will have it used against you if you don't. Nobody normal would 'want' to kill but the question of could you is an important one.

I also have a small pepper spray to carry when I am in areas that I feel concerned about given you can't go using a gun when in a city.

I think your ideas on self defense and thinking ahead are very important and for our children as well as adults. Bad things happen and we can't always prevent them, but we can know what we'd do if someone attacks us and at least give it a try. Mostly they don't expect us to be prepared and that gives us one possible advantage as their physical strength and ruthlessness gives them one also.

One other thing I decided a long time ago that if someone threatened me in a parking lot to get into their vehicle, I'd fight before I got into their car and yell. I'd rather be killed there than carried off because once you get into that car, you lost your options.

And yes, follow instincts. Listen to the small voice and don't feel foolish for the listening.

donna said...

I always used to hold my keys between my knuckles when I had to walk through a dark parking lot to my car. And I'm hyper-aware of people being around me.

Groin, neck, eyes - go for the vulnerable spots. Scratch, kick, claw, bite - whatever it takes.

ShortWoman said...

Actually I don't like "NOT MY DADDY!" because it can be mistaken as a step-parent situation. I much prefer "I DON'T KNOW YOU!" as something for a child to scream. That is unambiguous.