Study: women trained to resist assault less likely to be victimized

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I guess training men not to assault would be too easy?

I mean, good for women who get training and are able bodied and can apply it…


The trick is identifying the men who need the training. All women are potential victims, but not all men are potential assaulters. Chances are if a man were willing to be trained not to assault, he probably wasn’t going to. But a man prone to assault would probably deem the training unnecessary.


What? How would you do that?

If we could train people to not break the law or hurt people, that would be awesome. Or an Orwellian nightmare, depending on the method.


People trained to be vigilant are more vigilant. Stop the presses!

I remember once that I very briefly dated a woman who told me that I kept doing stuff that would normally set off her alarm bells, like asking her to come to dark secluded areas for romantic rendezvous, and she kept going along with it, despite a voice in her head saying not to. On the one hand I was glad she felt that she could trust me, and on the other, I kind of hoped she wouldn’t extend that complacency to other men. I think that people who talk about educating women on protecting themselves like it’s the single most critical way to “get the numbers down” forget that having people essentially live in fear may be effective, but is it really the world we want to live in?

I do think the rhetoric of “teach men not to rape” is unhelpful, even if I agree with the underlying sentiment. It’s too easy to take literally, and people miss the more complex message: Women don’t want to have to live in fear, and that we should work on building a society where women are relatively safe. I never think twice about dark alleys and hitting the bar alone. Yes, bad things could happen to me, but I consider the level of risk acceptable. When women share the same relative risk for the same activities, then we can talk about precautions as a be-all end-all solution.


The trained women were at a university. To do a study of how well male training worked, you could make a few hours of university orientation mandatory and make it about the necessity of consent. Compare the number of rapes against another similar institution that does not include mandatory training.

Or you could include such training in a high school health class and make it required for graduation. Or it could be included in every health class every year in school.


I think teaching parents to raise decent kids would be a better start. But since that ain’t gonna happen, perhaps what you suggest might be a more plausible.

Then again, most high school health classes in my state are taught by football coaches…

I don’t see how being prepared to defend one’s self against an assault is living in fear?

Being pro-active about your personal safety regarding any form of harm is not living in fear, it’s recognizing a danger and taking measures to ameliorate it before it happens.

Kind of like health or auto insurance.


Depressingly, the right answer is most likely ‘why not have both?’


I worked in middle management at some place that offered self defense courses for all of our employees and customers each year. As the only guy to show up to these (it was mandatory for management, and I was the only guy), guess who got picked to be the attacker? I had the joy of having the crap beaten out of me for several hours while the instructor yelled “hit him harder” or “stomp harder.” No protective equipment.

What did I learn? Many bad ways to attack and that self defense courses are not safe for men. Oh, and thank God that kicks to the groin are not recommended. A few women instinctively kneed me, but I survived well enough to father children.


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Oh, I see I’m 20 minutes too late.


Because you didn’t read my dating story, or because you missed its moral? It’s not about never taking reasonable precautions, it’s about creating a world where those precautions are in fact reasonable, rather than restrictive.

In a world of bioterrorists and deliberate car-crashers, maybe. It’s a band-aid solution for a family of problems that start somewhere other than the victim, and where they start needs to be addressed meaningfully. We already live in a culture that readily blames women for being assaulted. Pretending that woman’s behavior are the first point of deliberate action is foolish in this cultural context. When people woman are educated that women need to undertake a series of actions that can help avoid sexual assault, it invariably turns into an unreasonable expectation that women take responsibility for their safety.


Women shouldn’t have to take self defence classes in order to feel safe, and if they are attacked it is obviously not their fault. As a society, we need to combat rape culture and make sure that people are safe, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if women are able to provide some memorable hands-on instruction if the occasion calls for it. This is not an either/or choice, especially as it reduces the incidence of rape and ‘society’ often isn’t there to help you at that point. I wonder if this has a longer term effect on the rapist too? i.e. are they less likely to pull the same thing on someone else, or is it just that they were successfully repulsed that time?

If what you are saying is true, then your workplace paid for a fake course in self defense. In real life, such a course would have an instructor be the “attacker”, and s/he would be in protective equipment.

Why would a reputable company take on such reckless liability issues?


See, this is kind of where I actually disagree. I feel like the proliferation of self-defense as a strategy will have the effect of pushing society to place more expectations on women. In an ideal world, this wouldn’t happen, but that’s not the one we live in. I genuinely get the sense that if we did have widespread adoption of such training, the first question police will ask after an assault is whether the woman remembered her training. Shit, it already happens. Police will often ask women questions that are essentially geared towards their responsibility. Police have gone so far as to tell women that they were not raped because they made certain decisions. In other words, if this were a Dicken’s play, I’d be the Ghost of Unintended Consequences, warning you that this may not work out the way you think it will.

98% of self-defense is avoiding conflict or danger. Fighting off rapists physically is often very dangerous for the woman involved, and doesn’t encompass a lot of sexual assault that occurs between people who are well-acquainted. A good, honest self-defense course for men OR women is going to start by explaining prudent and cautious behaviors like being around friends, keeping an eye on your drink, or remaining in well-lit areas. None of these deter rapists any more than locking your car and removing valuables deters car thieves. It merely makes them look elsewhere.

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These figures didn’t add up, because most rape is committed by someone known to the victim. You wouldn’t necessarily expect a violent intervention to work then - I suspect many women won’t want to karate chop a friend or relative. Reading the linked article, only a minority of the class was on physical resistance. Most was on social measures, like recognizing and avoiding coercive situations. This, to me, sounds much better than a regular self-defense class, since it emphasizes dismantling the social pressures that predators take advantage of.

Perhaps they wouldn’t want to - but it could also serve to discourage predators they know from assuming they had a quiet, helpless, compliant victim. Known associates also have much more interest in things being kept quiet than a random stranger does. Girls and women are definitely not helpless, but the prevalent perception that they are is a lot of what causes these problems.

I’m not sure I buy the argument that fight training is an effective deterrent. The predator has to know that the target has taken a self-defense class for it to work as a deterrent, and has to be pretty sure they’'ll use it. Considering the grooming many acquaintance rapists put into a target, it seems more likely to me that support in young people in spotting and resisting grooming and other coercive dynamics is likely to be effective.

I never told the man.who raped me that I had taken self-defense, and I’m not sure it would have deterred him, as a victim who has been incapacitated with drugs can’t really fight back. But that’s another situation - I don’t think there is any way to educate against the specific thing that happened to me.

Everyone is responsible for their own safety or lack thereof.

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