Next time you see something in the media that bothers you about how violence and self-defense are portrayed, ask yourself these questions to help you pinpoint what the problems are.
___Does the text and/or subtext communicate the social context of violence and/or self-defense?For example:
● The reality of violence—who, what, where, when, why?
● The reality of inequalities (e.g. gender, class, disability, race, sexual orientation) in experiences of violence?
● Violence as socially-produced rather than natural and inevitable
Accountability of Perpetrators
___Does the text and/or subtext communicate that perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for violence? For example does the text make it clear that:
● Victims of violence do not ask for, cause, invite, or deserve to be assaulted?
● Attackers’ use of grooming, manipulation, intimidation, or force is their responsibility?
● Victims’ words and behavior are not being judged?
● Learning new skills or regretting one’s own actions does not mean responsibility for violence?
Embodiment of power and competence
____Does the text and/or subtext communicate that embodiment is foundational to women’s empowerment? For example:
● The worth of people’s bodies, regardless of gender, disability, race, social class, sexual orientation, etc.
● The importance of bodily integrity and people’s right to make decisions about how their own bodies are treated
● Developing respect for and loving one’s own body
● Self-defense is reclaiming one own’s body
● Finding the power and competence in one’s own body
● Physical self-defense is stance, breath, body language, escaping, strikes, kicks
Comprehensive Self-Defense Toolbox
___Does the text and/or subtext communicate that self-defense is a range of tools. For example,
● Knowledge of risks of violence
● Recognizing danger signals
● A continuum of verbal skills, including de-escalation, assertiveness, confrontation
● Projecting consistency in body language and verbal content
● Leaving unsafe situations
● Speaking out against violence
● Strikes and kicks are tools of last resort
Checklist from Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago, and Alena Schaim, IMPACT Personal Safety New Mexico, "Media Portrayals of Violence and Implications for Self-Defense," National Women's Martial Arts Federation Self-Defense Instruction Conference.