Anna has been writing about women and self-defense. About what makes self-defense training appealing or accessible for women. It’s a marketing conversation and at the same time it isn’t a marketing conversation at all. It’s a good dialogue. Go Anna.
And as usual, reading Anna’s work gets me thinking. In the Krav world, there are video clips about women fending off assailants. Some of the videos have a professionally produced edge, other videos are clips from classes or vignettes of potential attacks role-played out to show how effective training can be.
I haven’t seen a single one that is realistic. In all the “encounter” video demos, our successful heroine is mostly unscathed. The hair might be a bit tussled, maybe her hoodie is off kilter or she has to pick her purse/backpack up from the ground.
No one is bleeding. She isn’t limping. Her clothes aren’t ripped or torn. No busted lips, no red handprints left on her throat, no black eyes forming and nowhere in any of these are she even tearing up, let alone crying.
She walks confidently away from the scene. Good advertising? Assuming this is what women want to see? We’re missing the trembling, hands shaking so hard she can’t use her phone to call for help. We don’t get to see the disorientation or the difficulty in forming complete sentences. Or the waking up in the middle of the night – or the staring at the ceiling because she can’t sleep, or ….
Who wants to see that? And if we made self-defense clips like this I’m guessing there would be a violent outcry against the gratuitous violence.
No one walks away from a violent encounter smiling confidently. Maybe from a potential purse snatching that doesn’t go beyond an aborted snatch and grab. Maybe.
Violence is ugly. If she gets slammed against the car, it is going to hurt. The action is going to stun her. Her head will snap back and bounce off the vehicle. If she fights back, her attacker will probably fight too. That’s going to send shock waves of pain through her body. If she gets hit, it’s going to leave a mark. After the violence ends, she is going to experience pain. It may last for days.
Using realistic violent attacks against women for marketing would be a mistake on so many levels - it’s not really worth the ink on the page to unpack. I’m pretty sure everyone gets the problem with it.
Somewhere though, at some point in the timeline of her training, someone needs to have the hard conversation with her. If she is one of the 4 of 5 women who have not experienced violence, she needs to know the confidently dusting-self-off video clips with crumpled (staged) men on the ground is not going to be her reality if violence ever invades her world. She needs to get the power and wisdom of avoidance and de-escalation. And, someone needs to tell her she will survive the pain – she will sleep again, she is going to be different – and that’s okay.
There is nothing pretty or inherently confidence-building about a violent encounter. Even if you win. It hurts and there is an aftermath. It doesn’t end when you adjust your hoodie, pick up your purse and walk happily down the sidewalk because you have bested Goliath.