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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 18, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Women’s self-defense

Compassion, intuition important skills

Martial artist and executive director Melinda Johnson is organizing a group of trained instructors to offer free self-defense classes through the Fight the Fear Campaign. [Photo illustration by Erika Schultz, The Seattle Times.]

Martial artist and executive director Melinda Johnson is organizing a group of trained instructors to offer free self-defense classes through the Fight the Fear Campaign. [Photo illustration by Erika Schultz, The Seattle Times.]

The Seattle Times recently featured a great women’s self-defense piece in the Pacific NW Magazine.

Although the article highlighted an important resource of physical skills for women, it focused on our culture’s backward approach to violence against women.

The more we teach women to fight like men, using skills they don’t naturally have, the more we miss the opportunity to teach them how to cultivate the powerful skills they already have, like intuition and compassion, to increase their confidence and defend themselves through prevention and avoidance.

Women are born with natural instincts to detect and avoid dangerous men, that is our primary self-defense. Using physical tactics should be a last resort for women to protect themselves against a stranger or someone they know, the latter of which makes up the majority of violence against women.

Our fear of “stranger danger” is regularly fed by news reports of monsters perpetrating heinous acts upon the innocent. This coverage dehumanizes the man behind the crime, generates more fear and chips away at our confidence about dealing with them. The idea of protecting oneself against a “monster” can be overwhelming and lead to debilitating panic when confronted with this situation.

The truth is there are no monsters. No matter how horrendous the crime, there is only a dysfunctional, dangerous human behind it. Compassion helps women unmask the broken, wounded man behind the monster and have more confidence about potential encounters with them.

Although learning physical techniques is an important piece of self-defense, teaching women how to use the skills they already possess to avoid and prevent a personal safety emergency will go much farther than learning to throw a punch.

Maura Barclay, founder of Unbreakable Woman, Seattle

Comments | Topics: compassion, crime, defense

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