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Monday, October 24, 2011

Female Instructors Wear Many Hats

The public and the media often focus on the dedicated men who wear the IMPACT body armor that allows women to use their verbal and physical self-defense skills with full-power. Often the female instructor role is unnoticed. This makes some sense since students are frequently stunned by the male instructors' strong commitment to our mission – equal to that of the female staff members. Women's commitment is taken-for-granted. It is not a surprise. We expect them to "get it." We expect them to understand and empathize with our fears and firsthand experiences with sexual assault and other forms of violence. While understandable, the invisibility of the female instructor role occurs within a society that often places women’s work, no matter how crucial or important, secondary to men’s work. For this reason, it is important that we give due credit and recognition to our extraordinary female instructors: Margaret Vimont and Martha Thompson; our instructors-in-training: Molly Norris and Katie Skibbe, and our instructor emeritus: Dianne Costanzo.

An IMPACT female instructor wears many hats, each reflecting a complex set of skills. She (1) is the team-leader who plans, organizes and oversees every element of the course; (2) creates an emotional and physically safe class environment for the students, the suited instructors, and class assistants (3) demonstrates the role of the defender when attacked prior to students learning new techniques; (4) breaks down, demystifies, and teaches the techniques that women learn in IMPACT; (5) is a coach and support in every scenario for each women while also managing the safety of the student, suited instructor, the line, and herself; (6) takes the lead on addressing women’s emotional or trauma issues; (7) has knowledge of research on sexual assault, violence against women, and how gender affects sexual assault and self-defense; and (8) supports and inspires individual women and girls to embrace their own power and wisdom. As a class assistant for many years, many years back, I saw the female instructors wear all of these hats – frequently more than one at a time – with grace, expertise, and wisdom. Not just any person could do this work and do it so well! 

I know that many graduates share in my next sentiment: Hats off to these amazing, dedicated, and competent women. Your powerful presence is seen and appreciated. Thank you.

Lisa Amoroso, 1991 graduate of the Core Program
Secretary, IMPACT Chicago Board

1 comment:

  1. Seriously. Whenever I'm telling my friends about Impact I have to fight the urge to go on about the male instructors because, good as they are, I know I'm going on about them more than the awesome female instructors because we basically expect nothing from men when it comes to fighting sexual assault. Perfect example of women having to do things twice as well to be thought half as good. My female instructors were fantastic!