Monday, June 10, 2013

It Should Be Dangerous to Attack a Woman

I grew up in northern California, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Bay Area. I grew up with liberal parents who encouraged me to do anything, because I could and should! The world was my oyster! I never considered myself to be anything but strong and empowered. Then I flew the coop, jumped ship, made a break for it…in other words: COLLEGE. This is when I learned that not everyone is raised to believe women are equal, that we are strong and entitled to everything that men are. I chalked it up to new experiences, but this new world view really seeped into me insidiously. I started to forget that being strong and sure of one’s opinions was acceptable and should be encouraged.

Fast forward 10 years through two master’s degrees from California and Upstate New York to this west coast girl settling into a cautious Midwestern existence in Chicago. I had connections to a few friends, one of whom was dating a guy who helped teach self-defense. I filed self-defense away as something that would be good to learn, but not necessarily needed. Then, I was followed home. It wasn’t a huge deal at the time…but I was frightened.

The next day I signed up for that self-defense class and…I woke up. In one weekend, I was reminded of that sassy and spirited gal who left California so long ago, and I was deeply saddened. If I was subconsciously being pushed down by the seemingly latent messages of female inferiority….what about the women who were experiencing it openly? Why was it still happening? What could I do? Well, I learned that what I can do is fight.

So five years later, I’ve become an instructor. It took two years of training and work, but in light of the statistics it didn’t feel like there was any other option for me. IMPACT Chicago teaches full-force, fully adrenalized self-defense for women and girls. We use padded male instructors so women can learn what it feels like to hit something and that they do have the strength and power to do it. We also provide an opportunity to learn and practice prevention, assessment, and verbal boundary setting because we emphasize that no one should engage in physical altercations if they can avoid it. But knowing your body can back it up if you’re in danger adds so much weight to the message. We teach women they are worth taking care of.

Consider how revolutionary it will be when it becomes a very dangerous thing to attack a woman. Consider how different the world will look, because right now, there are no consequences and the mentality that “she was asking for it” still exists and is tacitly approved by society. Even now. So we start with 15 women at a time and we teach their muscles how to remember what to do when that adrenaline rush hits and their fine motor skills go out the window, and if they feel empowered along the way to change the world a little bit themselves, then we’ve done our job.

Molly Norris, IMPACT Chicago Instructor

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