Fight It, Don’t Fear IT

February 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

What constitutes someone as threatening? What is really that scary about a big, dark jacket? The reality of this “frightening” winter coat is the obvious, it’s cold outside. Why has society imprinted in our brains that this specific person must lead to trouble?! I’m just as guilty as the next girl, being alone on a street with someone walking behind me, I will walk faster; But why?

Just Walk On By, by Brent Staples created many personal reactions for myself. I grew up about 20 minutes from Chicago; the city began the essay about. I could recall going through similar experiences that he explained that the girl went through. I took the train to the city almost every weekend in high school. Sometimes I would be alone and sometimes I would go with friends. Either way, I remember always having that lurking fear if it was too dark and also if I was alone (no matter what time of day). When reading this response to the “hunch posture”, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for having such a fear. In my case, it was unlikely that anything would happen to me shopping down Michigan Avenue. I could recall almost every store, restaurant, and convenience store down the block to run to safety (if needed), yet I couldn’t help but still have that lingering fear in the back of my head. I now, even more than ever, question why? I felt slightly better when Brent Staples agreed and almost sympathized with this fear that even in his opinion wasn’t very irrational. The reality of this fear could by all means be accurate. Like stated in his essay, “I understand, of course, that the danger they perceive is not a hallucination. Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence.”I was flattered that Brent Staples came up with a defense mechanism for this fear. It’s unfortunate that it came to this, but when I remember the fear that I faced, and still face, I respect him as a person to an incredible extent.

This forced me to think of my own solution. In high school I worked at a martial arts institute for a winter. I think this would be a wonderful way for women to feel safer in their own skin. My particular experience was extremely empowering. The school had two main trainers. The first trainer that I became especially good friends with was Gary. Gary was a middle aged black man that was previously in the military. He was a member of the Special Forces. I loved hearing stories of him getting dropped out of planes in the middle of nowhere; he had to find his way back on natural resources and instinct. He also visited every single state in the United States, with a post card from each to prove it. He was the highest level black belt possible, and also could help but show off his skill with nun chucks. He had one other interesting quality to add to his fearful persona…he was terrified of Katherine. Katherine was 5’2”, 120lbs, blonde, and fierce. She was the highest level athlete/fighter in the institute. She actually broke Gary’s arm once because she was too rough when she threw him over his head; Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Katherine is my solution to this night time fear. She is strong and brave and just downright incredible. I understand that many people do not believe in fighting, but martial arts is not just about fighting and winning. Martial Arts is self defense. If women knew how to defend themselves, and do it well, this “hunch posture” would slowly seize to exist. It might be a stretch, but I do believe that proper training could empower a woman more than expected.

§ One Response to Fight It, Don’t Fear IT

  • Thank you for posting your experience! I have not yet gotten self defense classes, but I was thinking it would be great if we could change the entire stereotype around. That no female would feel weak and powerless against anyone, and honestly men would be hesitant to attack women if a bunch of their friends who tried got their arms broken! This would at least partially eliminate the great tensions women feel around any man, possibly leading to a better experience for guys like Brent who are not violent. Yes I understand there is also a racial stereotype that also needs to be overcome, and I think changing our cultures’ opinions and expectations in these regards could have tremendous impacts.

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