Maybe you saw a demo at a health fair or shopping mall about women’s self-defense, and you’re considering taking a class. The group putting on the demo seemed friendly and knowledgeable, and now you’re wondering if their program would be a good fit for your needs. Here’s two important keys to watch for.
In many self-defense demos, you see a male instructor as “attacker” and a female instructor as “defender.” So far, so good. Now, who does the talking? Is it a male instructor, or female? Yes, this IS important! If you are teaching women to strongly face a real-life assailant, she should be the one talking to the women in the audience.
Second, watch carefully for either (or both) of these two things to happen: the female defender does her moves but in a tentative manner and a male instructor describes her as being “nice” to her attacker,” and over the next 10 minutes the demo actors get shifted so a male instructor has taken over showing the moves.
Is this empowering for women? (Hint: the answer is no.)
I’ve seen this scenario happen several times now. I have no doubt that these are very nice and well-meaning people, and their techniques can be effective. However, until the women show a real lead in their demos I have a hard time believing that the women they are trying to recruit as students will get two of the most essential self-defense lessons. Which are, of course, to take charge and use your voice.