I participated in a Safety Self Defense class this semester taught by Denton PD coincidental with Spring Break being the week right after. I was already excited prior to the class, but what I didn’t anticipate was how much I would be reminded that I live in a world where I need to take a self defense class because of how high the statistics of my chances of being raped really are.
The Police Officers were just doing their job, they were very informative and were looking out for our best interest, but I couldn’t help but let my mind and heart be taken back every time a statistic was dropped. They warned that we should never walk alone at night, because we could get raped. They warned that we should never go out to a bar alone, because we could get raped. They warned we should never sip out of anything we let out of our sights, because we could get drugged, and raped. I can’t walk my dog as the sun is setting because I have to keep one headphone out of my ear to make sure no one is going to run after, I can’t be independent and enjoy a drink by myself because I’m more vulnerable that way, and I can’t leave my drink anywhere because the world is an untrustworthy place. Instead of reminding us that rapists are the actual problem, not the victim, we were taught how to avoid getting ourselves into those kinds of situations.
Don’t get me wrong, I am supremely ecstatic that I can now get out of a wrist grab and avoid a neck choke hold, but the fact that I have to learn these things in order to feel safe because I am told that one out of every four girls will be raped, and someone is a victim of sexual assault every two minutes, doesn’t make me feel proud to be a girl, it teaches me to be scared and cautious. When one of the officers was demonstrating a situation, he implied that the other male officer was going to rape him, but then made it clear he was a women. I had said out loud, “hold on a second, men can get raped too, it isn’t just women.” The officer apologized and agreed that males can be raped by males, and then I also added that “women can be rapists too.” However, his response was to inform us that 80% of rape cases unfortunately involve a man raping a women, but I wanted to make it clear to everyone that we shouldn’t feel like because we are a women, we are supposed to get raped; I just didn’t want to normalize that.
Another point that really shocked not only me, but everyone in the room who hadn’t heard it before, was to cry out “fire” instead of “rape” when you were in that situation.
The officers explained that more people would come to your aid if you yelled out fire, it gets everybody’s attention, whereas yelling rape might deter some people away from wanting to avoid the incident all together, because they simply just don’t want to get involved or understand the severity of it. Almost every girl in the room shook their heads, we could not believe that we would receive a higher chance of help if we yelled out something else.
It made my stomach turn, coming to grasp that rape has become so common that we are offered these free classes at our University before Spring Break trips because men will make the decision to sexually assault a girl.
I don’t believe we are teaching boys this isn’t okay as much as we are teaching girls how to protect themselves.
I am more than happy to know some defense moves, but I would be even happier if I didn’t feel like I needed to take a class like this in order to feel more at ease and have more fun during a Spring Break trip, or walking from my work to my bus at night, or just enjoying some me time at a bar.
I hate this.