Anti-Rape Clothing Isn't the Answer
I recently ran across this set of instructions for making “anti-rape gloves.”
Go ahead and click through. It’s short, I’ll wait.
Remind you of anything? Perhaps that “anti-rape underwear” Indiegogo campaign? Anti-rape gloves are another well-intentioned product based on the notion that women need things to defend themselves. That women and their bodies are inherently vulnerable.
Reading the article, some things jumped out at me. This person did some research on how women fight by watching videos on YouTube, and concluded: “Women tend to slap and go for the face, they grapple, pull and push as opposed to direct punching or kicking people.” That may be what the women on YouTube do. It’s not what Impact grads do. We don’t teach punching—too much chance of hurting the small bones in your hands and you have much stronger weapons anyway—but we sure do teach kicking. And kneeing. And elbowing. We don’t teach grappling. We teach techniques to create damage and gain distance as quickly as possible.
Take a look at the features this person wanted to have in his weapon:
"My design criteria had to be:
Something that was able to be carried that you didn't have to think about or be on the alert
Something that was preventative rather then after-the-assault effective
Something that is hard to be used by the attacker against the victim
Something that was convenient and compact that women would wear."
Except for that last criterion it sounds a lot like Impact. As for convenience, how about something you don't even need to remember to wear? Like your elbows and knees and voice.
I look at these gloves and I wonder: what does she do if she forgot to put them on when she encounters an assailant? What do the gloves give her when she encounters someone who her intuition tells her is dangerous, but who hasn’t yet made a move to touch her? Can she get these gloves on when she’s adrenalized? I also look at these gloves and I wonder what happens if she’s attacked and falls? What if she relies on them and then the assailant grabs her and turns her hands against her?
It’s like people believe that there has to be a magic thing that will protect women. The Impact program was developed (by studying the way women are attacked—not how some untrained women may react when an attack happens) and how women react under adrenaline, and then finding techniques to disable those attacks that can be taught effectively in 24 hours of training.
I applaud the sentiment behind the creation of these gloves. The man who came up with them wants his little sister to be safe, just like the creators of the underwear wanted to protect women from sexual assault. How is it that in 2015, thirty years after Impact was created, we have yet to change the general perception that women are too weak to simply defend themselves? Why isn’t it common knowledge that women can be confident that they are strong and powerful walking through the world just the way they are, with only 3 days of training? No special gloves. No special underwear. No threading keys between your fingers, for goodness sakes. The bodies and the voices we carry with us all the time are better than gadgets and gimmicks because they ARE us, and we are capable of defending ourselves.
I've worked with Impact Bay Area for a while now. You might know me as an assistant, a volunteer, a classmate, or most recently as the newly named Program Director. Today I'm writing to you as a big sister who just dropped off her younger sister at Berkeley.Read more
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On this GivingTuesday, we want to thank you for your support of Impact Bay Area's mission. If this were a perfect world, there would be no need for boundary setting workshops. There would be no need to teach children's self-defense or young adult Basics focusing on college issues. Impact wouldn't exist.Read more
"I came to Impact because my sense of safety was shattered. Because Impact offered me a scholarship, I was able to take the class... as I speak about the experience with family and friends, I cannot help but use the word "impact" repeatedly to describe its effect. Truly, what a fitting name."Read more