Monday, August 4, 2014

An Empowerment Approach to Media

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.

Social Context
___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

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