In “Emancipatory Sexuality Education and Sexual Assault Resistance: Does the Former Enhance the Latter?” Psychology of Women Quarterly, Charlene Senn, Stephanie Gee, and Jennifer Thake (2011) compared two programs, one a self-defense course and the other a self-defense course with an additional component of emancipatory sexuality education (exploration of women’s sexual values and desires). In follow-up, the researchers did not find any differences in women’s resistance to unwanted sexual advances, but found that women who had self-defense plus emancipatory sexuality education were more likely to report more assertiveness in initiating sexual activity.
On a Saturday afternoon in September, eleven self-defense instructors from around the country got together on a conference call sponsored by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation Reading Group, organized and facilitated by Katy Mattingly, University of Michigan to discuss the above article. Instructors talked about many issues, including the language the researchers used, what is sex-positive self-defense education, the importance of self-defense for other anti-violence work, and the implications of the research for teaching self-defense. Instructors talked about the value of assertiveness being about “Yes” as well as about “No” and the need for self-defense instructors to expand the examples we provide of positive assertiveness.
Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago Instructor