I am a female self defence instructor.
Yes, I teach girls how to punch someone in the throat. I teach them how to deal with being choked, grabbed by the hair, dragged from their car, followed on the street, mauled in bars. Yes, I teach them situational awareness, how to walk, what to carry, ways to have the best chance of surviving an attack from a stranger on a street.
But that is not what they really need.
They really need to know how to have a voice.
How to speak up.
How to speak out.
How not to be the good girl, the quiet girl. The well mannered girl, the pleasant girl, the co-operative girl. The yes girl.
How to say “No, I don’t want to” to their boyfriend, husband, lover, when they don’t actually feel like having sex.
How to say “No, don’t speak to me like that”, to their friend, cousin, brother, uncle when the sly innuendos are thrown her way.
How to say “No, I don’t want to kiss you / hold your hand / sit on your lap”, to their father, family friend, teacher or Santa.
And how to say YES to their gut, their intuition. How to trust themselves over all the other conditioning that is heaped upon them – to be pleasant, to be nice, to be good, to be quiet…
How to speak up when something just does not feel right about the way they are being treated.
ESPECIALLY when it is by someone they know, and should be able to trust.
Because the inconvenient fucking truth is that they probably will never have to defend themselves from a stanger on the street.
The truth that no-one wants to hear is that they are much more likely to need to be able to defend themselves against a family member, a trusted friend or an intimate partner.
The truth is that until we give a girl a voice, it does not matter what weapons we put in her hands, she will never be safe.