The Risk of Being Female
It’s a very different experience to be a man than a woman. As obvious as that sounds, I wonder that we don’t usually take the time to distinguish just how true that is.
For example, let’s talk about Risk and Fear.
During one of the courses I’ve been taking, the point was made that women, as the generally physically smaller and weaker gender, feel fear more often than men. “Really?” I thought, “I’m not sure about that.” And then the point was driven home.
While visiting Oakland in early January, I stayed at a marina. The bathhouse, about 50 feet from the gated dock, required keycard access, which I had. Early one morning, I crept off the boat and took myself to the bathhouse to freshen up. As the dock gate locked behind me, a semi-shabby man approached me. I immediately noticed that we were alone on the boardwalk.
“Got a light?” he asked.
“No, sorry,” I said, “I don’t smoke.”
“Ah,” he said, as I continued toward the bathhouse.
“You’re very pretty,” he said.
“Thank you,” I replied.
“You got a boyfriend?” he asked, now starting to follow me toward my destination.
“Yes, I do,” I lied, smiling through my increasing discomfort.
“You engaged?” he asked, getting closer as I ran my key card to unlock the door to the ladies room.
“Yep! Sorry!” I said, slipping hurriedly into the restroom and pressing the door shut behind me, now officially upset.
“That was disturbing,” I thought, shaking off my jangled nerves.
I was brushing my teeth a minute later when the doorknob rattled and the door shook in its frame.
Now… Here is the thought process I went through…
- Is the door locked fully? Yes.
- Can I count on anyone coming to save me? No, it’s very early in the morning, and my friend is still asleep.
- Do I have my phone? No. SHIT!
- Do I have a weapon? No, just the key to the gate.
- Is there anything else here that I can use as a weapon? No.
- Is there any other way out of this room? No, just the door.
- Can I see outside? No, the ventilation grate in the bottom of the door provides no view and the windows are too high.
- Can I climb up to the windows? No, so they’re also not an exit.
- What if he’s still outside? Then I’ll fight if I need to. I’ll start by screaming loudly and often.
- Should I open the door slowly or quickly? If I open it slowly and he’s right by the door, he could grab me and push me into this room. If I open it quickly and bust a move at least I’ll be a harder target to catch. I just risk looking silly to anyone else nearby.
- Do I care about looking silly? Yes, but I care more about not being raped.
- Am I ready to do this? If I have to… GO!
I slammed open the door and ran out of the bathhouse. The boardwalk was empty. I did a 360-degree visual scan of the area, confirming that I was alone. I then walked to the gate and let myself back onto the dock, heart pounding, body flooded with adrenaline.
HOW MANY OF YOU MEN THINK THIS IS CRAZY? If it had been you, would you have gone through that same process? Would you have even given it a moment’s notice?
HOW MANY OF YOU WOMEN CAN COMPLETELY RELATE TO MY RESPONSE? And how often are you hyper-aware of your environment and any possible threats to your safety?
Now that I tell the truth to myself, every time I walk my dogs, I am aware of any person who approaches me, particularly if it’s a man.
Are they a threat?
Should I make eye contact or not?
Are they bigger than me?
What’s their body posture and what does it say about their state of mind?
Please note that I have never been attacked by a stranger! Consider that this may simply be the way of the feminine mind. We are, for all extents and purposes, the (physically) weaker sex.
What can be done about this? Can I turn off my potential-predator reflex? Probably not, nor am I sure that I’d want to. It’s not keeping me from fully engaging in my life, and it could actually save me one day. Perhaps it already has.
What I CAN do, is increase my confidence in my ability to defend myself should the need occur. Krav Maga, here I come!
All Rights Reserved, M. Makael Newby, 2012
IF YOU LIVE IN THE PORTLAND AREA, PLEASE KEEP READING.
My good friend, Erik Oberholtzer, co-developed and teaches the Tieryk Method, a self-defense technique designed for women who simply do not have the time to keep up with defensive systems that need to be constantly practiced in order to be effective. (Such as most martial arts.)
This one-day class covers Situational Awareness – how to relate to your environment and hopefully avoid an attack, Technique – how to defend yourself when you have to, and Legality – what to say and do after an incident to avoid legal counter-ramifications. I have absolute faith in Erik and highly recommend that you consider taking this course!
“Erik and Ty offered me a technique to handle aggressors, but more importantly, how to feel and be powerful, avoiding danger before it ever presents.” – Amy Fields
The next class will be held in NW Portland on Sunday, March 11th from 12-5 PM. Please see contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information, and invest in your confidence as well as your safety. (I’ll see you there!)