The necessity of self defense for women

Since the sexual harassment allegations of film producer Harvey Weinstein in October, numerous men of power have been accused of similar harassment. This has brought to light the commonality of sexual harassment and how easy it is for men to get away with misconduct.

 According to the Rape, Assault, & Incest National Network (RAINN), there is an average of 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. While sexual harassment is not only experienced by women—one of ten rape victims are male—women are generally more likely to be assaulted by men. One out of six American women have been a victim of attempted or completed rape, and many more have experienced other forms of sexual harassment. Additionally, females between the ages of 16-19 are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general population.

 These statistics are harrowing, as are the stories told by millions of women in the United States and around the world. Many would consider America to be a safe place for women, but is it really? Are we safe at night, or out in public, or alone? Are we safe at home? At work? At school?

 In the light of these revelations, self defense has become more important than ever. According to a statistic from the FBI, 86% of attacks on women were successfully diffused by the victim fighting back—something that most attackers aren’t expecting. Women are often targeted due to the assumption that they are less powerful than their male counterparts, but the truth is that, no matter what situation someone is in, self defense is crucial.

 “I one hundred percent agree that it’s important for women to learn self defense today,” said junior Gabby Innamorato. “Though it’s sad to think about having to use these tactics, having the ability to defend your body is a priceless skill.”

  Not only does self defense give one the skill to defend themselves, but it also boosts confidence. Senior Aditi Kiron, who has been taking karate lessons at the NJ Black Belt Association in Voorhees for five years, stated that it has improved her overall health and confidence. “I feel more comfortable going against people, whether it’s physically or verbally,” she said.

 Israeli Krav Maga, which is a self defense system with roots in the Israeli military, has a center in Cherry Hill run by Don Melnick. Israeli Krav Maga, Melnick said, is “focused on techniques” rather than size or strength, making it helpful for people who are faced with a physically intimidating opponent. In the female-specific self defense classes that are offered at Israeli Krav Maga, the teaching is focused on soft tissue attacks and awareness training. According to Melnick, the number one tool at anyone’s disposal is awareness; if one is mindful enough of the situation, they can avoid it or overcome it more easily.

 For high schoolers, self defense is especially important because learning self defense as early as possible can help develop the skills that could come to use in the future. Eastern used to have a self defense class linked with the PE curriculum, but it was phased out when the curriculum changed.

 Mr. Worthington, who used to teach self defense here at Eastern, stated that bringing back the teaching, either in PE or a whole separate class, would be beneficial to students, who should learn how to stay safe and be more confident. “I think it would be different for the kids,” he said. “I would like to see something happen like this.”

  In the Lifestyle Fitness class being implemented next school year, some sorts of self defense, like kickboxing, are in the plans to be taught. Self defense classes at Eastern would positively impact all students, not only women.

 “I would love it if there was a self defense course in gym,” said Kiron. “I feel like some people would get really into it.”

  Innamorato agreed, saying that since schools already implement programs to educate about safe sex, drugs, and alcohol, so “why not educate them [students] on a way to protect themselves?”

 As some situations that women encounter may be perilous, learning about self defense is essential. “Think of it as a fire escape plan,” Innamorato said. “You never want to have to face a situation where your house is on fire, but you create a way to escape just in case if were to happen.” Self defense is the same way; hopefully someone will not have to deal with an unsafe situation, but knowing self defense provides a way to fight back.