Over the past few weeks, this article series has looked at different aspects of rape culture, from the gender socialization issues (in part 1) from which it’s born to the complexities of victim blaming in dealing with rape victims (in part 2). In this last piece, we’ll take a hard look at the widespread misconceptions about rape, and ultimately, what things we can do individually and as a society to address the problem.
The Commonness of Rape
One of the problems about rape is that it is seen as a rare event. If you talk about rape with people, especially guys, most will say they’ve never known anyone who has been raped. When you tell people the truth, that 1 in 5 women have survived rape or attempted rape, they find it hard to believe. Most people know someone who have been mugged, had their car stolen, their home broken into, etc. but few people can think of a single person who has been raped. They find it hard to accept that such a high proportion of the women they know have probably faced rape or a rape attempt. Their perception of reality doesn’t match up, so many distrust the statistic. The only ones they hear about are ones that pop up in the media. The truth is that many victims keep quiet about their rapes and don’t press charges. Even if they do seek support from a few trusted people, many just don’t want to make it common knowledge. They often feel embarrassed and ashamed, as though they should have done more to prevent it. With victim blaming so prominent in our culture, it’s all too understandable why they might feel that way.
Last week I started discussing what rape culture is and the gender socialization issues for both men and women that contribute to its perpetuation. This week I’ll be going into more detail about specific issues related to rape culture, starting with victim blaming.
Understanding the Problem of Victim Blaming
The idea behind victim blaming is that by engaging in certain behaviours, victims are inviting crimes upon themselves. It is not limited to sexual assault crimes, but it is a cultural norm for them.
While I was attending self-defense lectures at the the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation 2014 training camp, I had the opportunity to speak with dozens of women who work at trauma centres that help women who have been raped. These women told me that time and time again they hear women talk about how fathers, brothers, friends, cops, etc, tell them that they should not have engaged in such risky behaviours in dealing with them as rape victims. Unless you’ve been through it, work with or spoken to people who have, there’s no reason why you would know how common it is. Here are some examples rape victims commonly encounter: (more…)
While I was driving home yesterday, a Vancouver radio announcer on 99.3 The Fox started commenting about the nude photos of Jennifer Laurence and other celebrities that were leaked by a hacker who had obtained them by criminal means. He went on to say that of course it wasn’t right, but who in their right mind would store their nude photos on a Internet-based storage system. He later talked about whether or not it was right to look at said photos, going on to admit that yeah, he was a bad man and sneaked a peek. (more…)
I was reading a fascinating book about skill development called “The Talent Code,” which delves deeply into the psychology and physiology that helps people to do this effectively. One of the most interesting chapters talks about the difference between the teaching styles of a soccer coach vs. a music teacher. The author claims that an effective soccer coach sits back and stays silient, allowing players to learn through open play, giving feedback in between sessions of play. Meanwhile, the effective music teacher interjects and instructs frequently to produce the specific results that constitute good playing. I believe this is only half the story. (more…)
Last week, I wrote about why martial artists should do strength training. One of the reasons was injury prevention by surrounding your joints, spine, etc with muscle for support. It can also help by preventing a worse injury, as I discovered while training at the summer camp last weekend. One of my training partners accidentally pushed my locked shoulder beyond its range of motion while rolling out of the prone subject control position in which I was being held (the arm was supposed to slip out during the roll). Fortunately, the extra muscle support I had from strength training meant that it only caused a minor muscle pull rather than causing joint damage, for which I was relieved. I was still injured, nonetheless, so I had to carefully consider how to proceed. (more…)
Many years ago, I came to believe that strength training was detrimental to being a good martial artist, or at least for the type of self-defense oriented training I do, that relies on technique in order to overcome bigger, stronger attackers. The reasoning I had in my mind was that putting too much emphasis on improving strength meant that you would be more inclined to rely on that strength to perform techniques. Honestly speaking, that was really just an excuse, as I didn’t particularly enjoy strength training. I still don’t, but I now realize it’s an important form of exercise that should be a part of every martial artist’s training regimen.
There are many benefits to strength training for martial artists, a few of which might surprise you. (more…)
Being a teenager is different than it was for me 20 years ago. This always becomes apparent to me when I talk with teenagers who are my relatives, who train with me at our dojo, or even my 15-year-old Little Sister (I’m a Big Sister volunteer mentor.) Technology has advanced leaps and bounds. The way we work, entertain ourselves, communicate and live is completely different. But one thing remains the same when it comes to being a teen; it means you’re old enough to think coherently and independently, but not necessarily experienced enough to recognize your personal biases and how it shapes the way you think, act and make choices. Getting out of your teen years doesn’t mean you get past this, but as you live through more years you get more opportunities to see the patterns of your choices in action and therefore more chances to see how your biases influence you. As such, I’ve compiled a list of things I would tell modern teenagers, if they genuinely wanted my advice based on my experience and personal perspective.
This past week, I travelled to Chicago where I had the privilege of teaching and training at the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation‘s annual “Special Training Camp.” This event is similar to the one that a sister organization, PAWMA (Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists), offers annually, which I taught and trained at in Oregon last fall. It was an incredible experience that was fun, interesting and educational, but also supportive and inspiring. (Photo below shows the training area, capable of handling 8 classes running simultaneously.)
Over a lifetime, we learn a lot of different skills, some are practical, like typing, cooking, and car maintenance, ones that we expect to use on an ongoing basis throughout our lives. Others are ones that we simply enjoy with minimal “practical” value beyond the way they make us feel, like visual arts, performance arts, or various sports like golf or tennis.
Whatever the skill, we only have so much time to dedicate to our various pursuits. As such, we sometimes settle for what we consider an “acceptable” level of skill to get by. When we reach this point, we either consider ourselves to be good enough at the skill that we’ll be able to call upon it when needed. Many people do this for skills such as bike riding or swimming. Or we’re happy enough to continue enjoying the activity at that level without feeling the need to stretch ourselves to keep improving our ability. This is often the case with inter-sports like softball or sports that people only occasionally enjoy like golf or skiing. We don’t necessarily want to increase our level of ability to perform at more competitive levels. We just want to be good enough to be able to do them enjoyably in a certain context. (more…)
In modern Western society, we’re taught from a young age to set goals for ourselves and to work toward them until they’re achieved. You see this in our schools, in which there is more value placed on the marks students earned than on what they have actually learned and retained. We focus on this in sports in which the results of games or matches are what receive praise or denigration. The problem with this goal-oriented focus is that it doesn’t necessarily give you better results, and it makes the entire experience less engaging and fun. This can be especially true in one’s training in the martial arts.