Feminist Self-defense: No God! No Master! No Sexist Aggressions!
* El Libertario published in its 51st edition (Venezuela, Novermber - Dicember 2007) a text compilation that expresses important aspects of what anarchism proposes may be done to face the growing problem of gender violence.
This society bases itself on a sexual hierarchy that socializes women in fear, consent, obedience, adaptation-resignation and total surrender to others. The assumption of this submission has devastating effects on our self esteem, and makes us blame ourselves for the discomfort and the frustration that we feel in our lives. Whether we assume these roles or we fight against them, we feel guilty, and that’s were the trick is. This feeling provokes certain attitudes of passivity and victimization that blocks our rage, so necessary for change. The obedience to some forced roles lead to failure.
To fight against this obedience that kills our autonomy, alienates and forbids us to defend ourselves at the same time it favors the established social order, we propose the feminist self-defense which consists of the following:
- To be aware of how fear and submission has built up in our lives will let us build our confidence, physical and emotional self-esteem, and the security us women have, both collectively and personally, to face a system that ignores and submits our lives to patriarchal and capitalist interests. By “physical self-esteem” we mean the recovery and application of the tools our bodies supply us through work out (constant or specific), that will let us to respond to an attack when this one suggests a threat to our physical integrity. This self-esteem generates the confidence and security in ourselves that will allow us to be calm, situate ourselves and decide with clarity how to react to a situation in the best possible way, because it’s not always necessary to have physical confrontation. Besides, this will provide us with the emotional comfort to break the established physical barriers.
- To adopt an attitude that prevents, protects and allows an answer to violence. To acknowledge fear and accept it, liberates anger and prepares us for action. Therefore we claim for rebelliousness as the mechanism of protection and action necessary to step up against anything that threatens us.
- Mutual support. We cannot trust or rely that the institutions (judges, police officers, soldiers, politicians…) will resolve patriarchal violence because they are the ones that practice it, need it and legitimize it. The moral and legal authority blames the victim (rape, harassment, abuse…), criminalizes liberties (abortion…) and forbids freedom in our own lives. From personal and collective conscience as women in this society, we want to overcome individualism and develop mutual support as a way to relate to one another. Because we look for ways that offer a more efficient resistance, as well as a creative organization of or intense realities.
- Feminist, distinguishing it from the feminine self-defense that limits itself to self-defense without affronting or questioning the cause of such violence.
Against patriarchal terrorism… Feminist self-defense!!!
[This was extracted from Spanish publication MUJERES PREOKUPANDO, Valencia, 2004]
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º Ideas you can use when you’re walking alone in the streets or find yourself in any situation that makes you feel insecure or threatened:
You can always carry any self-defense object such as PEPPER SPRAY. When this Spray is applied over the eyes, it causes momentary blindness. It’s sold in a variety of laces, and it usually comes in a spray bottle so small it easily fits your pocket and it has a security button that controls whether the gas can be sprayed or not. The spray is very effective but it can be very dangerous if it is not used with the necessary precautions for its effective use. Never use the pepper spray indoors or when the wind blows against you, because the gas expands 10 feet around and it can harm you. When you’re going to apply it, fully extend your arm so you reach close to the aggressor’s eyes and move away from the place. If you have to remain there, use a handkerchief to cover your nose and mouth so you don’t inhale the gas. Do not show it, pull it out just when you’re sure you’ll use the spray it, because the aggressor might use it against you if he notices you’re carrying one. If you plan on advising someone about the use of pepper spray never forget to mention this information.
With a STICK or an EMPTY BOTTLE in hand, angry drivers and pedestrians fear for their security and their car’s, because they can suppose you’re drunk.
Ride a BIKE. Riding a bike gives us a sense of autonomy and because it doesn’t pollute the air it provides us with good health. Besides, there’s a huge difference between going through a place alone at night walking and in a bike. You can always go by places you feel are insecure faster when you’re riding a bike.
KEYS. If you have to hit the aggressor, hold the keys with you closed fist and place one of them between the middle finger and the ring finger so that it sticks out.
SCREAMING. Don’t ever be embarrassed to ridicule your aggressor exposing him in public and making people notice that he’s bothering you.
SCREAMING, FIRE! If we ask for help common sense is very cruel to women y usually we don’t receive any help. Fire generally awakes more curiosity en people and the fear of some of their property burning makes them react and help quicker.
If you find yourself in an abuse situation in a car that’s running KEP YOUR WINDOW A LITTLE OPEN. When facing any violent situation you can open the glove box in front of the front seat and take all the legal documents and threaten to throw them out of the car. You can also use these documents as a source of information about your aggressor so you can denounce hem. Another place where these papers are usually kept s in the back of the seat mirror of the front seat and in the pocket on the driver’s door.
If you plan to hitchhiking, never go out with a pocket knife under your sleeve, which the police could easily assume to be part of camping equipment.
MAKE UP AN STD. when the aggressor begins to talk to you about sex and becomes persistent and insinuating about it, you can tell him that since you got ill you do not have sexual intercourse with anyone, and probably, because of prejudices, ignorance and social exclusion towards people who have STD’s, the aggressor will no longer talk to you about that subject, and will be afraid to touch you.
º To different kinds or aggressions, different reactions.
If you know the attacker:
-Don’t stay still or silent while you’re being abused. If you can’t do anything because you’re afraid of being hit o simply because something inside paralyzes you, at least be aware of what’s happening to you.
-Don’t shut. Even if it’s crying, make the aggressor know what’s on your mind, that what he’s doing to you is wrong.
-Find someone to talk to that you trust. You are not guilty or have any responsibility. You did not provoke what’s going on, the abuser should be the one who feels guilt and shame.
Nobody deserves to be abused of.
-There is no motive that justifies the aggressor actions.
-Silence or trying to forget that you were abused, are not a solution. On the contrary, not bringing the pain, guilt, shame and anger out of your body and mind will only get you sick.
-Don’t think this will be the last time, don’t give your aggressor another opportunity. Violence is a form of communication that once it begins to be used, will not stop. So give it up as a way to communicate yourself.
If you do not know the aggressor and your in public:
-Screaming fire (in most cases asking for help is not useful, so instead screaming fire will awake more fear and curiosity in people that are nearby. This was explained further in the beginning of the text).
-You can always ring the bells of houses around you, go inside nearby stores or pretend that you know someone that’s walking by at that moment by saying hello or simply beginning a conversation.
-if your not left with any other option but to punch who’s attacking you, try to aim for areas n the body that hurt a lot, or won’t let him/her move and may even provoke fainting. These places are:
- The testicles (kicking them with your foot, knee or simply punching them)
- The eyes (stabbing something in them…)
- The Adam’s apple (punching it, hitting it with your elbow, or pushing it inside with your fingers.)
- The ears (hitting with both your fists at the same time, biting them…)
- The Nose (punching it upwards, biting it, stabbing it with some object or simply shoving something up…)
If you feel that you’re being harmed, any reaction is valid. From running, screaming, and punching to even intoxicating the person that’s molesting you. Choose the way that’s more effective and suitable for you. Be conscious that violence can carry itself to extremes that your life or the other person’s life is in danger.
[Taken from the Self-defense for women brochure, available (in Spanish) at El Libertario’s text section at the website www.nodo50.org/ellibertario]
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º What’s Wen-Do?
It’s a self-defense method for women, that developed initially during the 1960’s and 1970’s by Anne and Ned Paige, a couple for Toronto, Canada, that using their skills on a variety of martial arts, and outraged by the case of a neighbor that was raped and then killed, decided to organize a program that would consist of many easy techniques that women could in an effective way and without using too much strength or physical ability. It’s important to state that even though Wen-Do based its concept on a group of martial arts, it is not consider a martial art itself.
Wen-Do provides a group of physical skills that will allow women to defend themselves from any possible aggression, focusing on scenarios in which women are usually the victims, such as rape and domestic violence. The training period implies a process in which women will understand the causes of sexist violence in contemporary society, share experiences, strengthen their self-esteem and find the strength that lies within them.
It’s basically a method that has become a reference for feminists in Canada and Europe, as well as an expanding one around the world. In Latin America, there are groups in Argentina and Brazil, and also in Spain, that encourage women to practice Wen-Do, as well as promoting conversations and debates about its role in matters concerning violence against women. For more information about this topic (in English), go to the website www.wendo.ca/pages/home.htm
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