Women and Safety in the Middle East

I recently had a young woman tell me that she sometimes covers her entire face with her vail when in a large crowd which was mostly men, because being without one

“was like being raped with their eyes”.

We were chatting later about fashion (our group had visited several malls) and mentioned that I tend to wear more formal clothes to class–she said

–“Because it makes you safe?”

Not so much that, I said, but I find professors treat me differently when I wear slightly more conservatives clothes (to those people  who have seen me wearing my sleeveless neon-green shirt with ripped pants, I don’t say I dress formally all of the time. Just most of the time). I felt her assumption was that I would not feel safe unless I was dressed conservatively.

I, as a women, an American, a black-belt, feel safe because I know I can cause enough damage to get away from nearly-all women and most men if I am attacked, enough damage being defined as the amount it takes for me to escape. I also know the law is on my side, most people on the street are on my side, and my 14 years of martial arts training are on my side.

I can’t help but wonder if her perceived lack of safety, her implicit assumption that men can hurt a woman and she cannot defend herself but by hiding is warping to society.

I have had a lot of similar conversations here at college with women who  assume that they will not be able to fight off an attacker. I have read police briefs that tell women not to fight back if they are being raped, because then the man might hurt them more. Minimize damage.

This line of thinking disturbs me as a black-belt. It makes me want to teach a self-defense class where we do violence to fruit, shoving thumbs into the eyes of cantaloupes, stomping on watermellons, crushing lemons with our bare hands: showing how much damage a woman with intent can inflict.

The idea that women can’t fight back makes me angry and hurt, regardless of what culture it originates.

Inspirational Quotes:

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. ~Bernard-Paul Heroux

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