Advertisement

Fighting Back on Feminist Terms: Empowerment Through Self-Defence Training in Neoliberal Times

  • Bell A. Murphy
Chapter

Abstract

In neoliberal times, patriarchal narratives about “women who ask for it” combine with the myth of meritocracy to make the slippery slope between safety advice and victim-blame slicker than ever. The only interventions that have shown empirical reductions in sexual assaults are “feminist empowerment” programmes that equip women with effective resistance skills. So, how can a feminist approach be distinguished from neoliberal discourses that responsibilise women for crime prevention while claiming to “empower” them? Drawing on the author’s experience as a feminist self-defence teacher in Aotearoa, New Zealand, this chapter suggests that a feminist approach should attend to empowerment as a political process with three interlocking dimensions: personal, collective and subversive. Examples are given of how this is, and could be, attempted through feminist self-defence classes.

Works Cited

  1. Armstrong, Elizabeth A., Laura T. Hamilton, Elizabeth M. Armstrong, and Lotus J. Seeley, (2014). “‘Good Girls’: Gender, Social Class, and Slut Discourse on Campus.” Social Psychology Quarterly 77.2 (2014): 100–122. http://spq.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/0190272514521220
  2. Bandura, Albert. “Self-Efficacy Mechanism in Human Agency.” American Psychologist 37.2 (1982): 122–147.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.37.2.122 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bargh, Maria. “Re-Colonisation and Indigenous Resistance: Neoliberalism in the Pacific.” 2002. https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/7368/6/Bargh02whole.pdf
  4. Bartky, Sandra. Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power. Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on resistance Ed. I. Diamond and Q. Lee. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988. 93–111.Google Scholar
  5. Baty, Kathleen. “College Freshman ‘Must Have’ Safety Tips: It’s ALL about the Game Plan.” SafetyChick Enterprises. 2014a. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016. http://safetychick.com/college-freshman-must-have-safety-tips-its-all-about-the-game-plan/
  6. ———. College Safety 101: Miss Independent’s Guide to Empowerment, Confidence, and Staying Safe. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2011.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2016.02.004
  7. ———. “New Year Resolutions 2014b: Make ONE That Can Save Your Life!” Sabre. 2014. Retrieved 10 Oct. 2016. https://www.sabrered.com/blog/new-year-resolutions-2014-make-one-can-save-your-life#sthash.AJ3p5cim.dpuf
  8. ———. “Task Force-Shmask Force: How College Women Can ‘Do a Great Deal More’ to Avoid Sexual Assault.” Safety Chick Enterprises. 2014b. Retrieved 10 Oct. 2016. http://safetychick.com/task-force-shmask-force-how-college-women-can-do-a-great-deal-more-to-avoid-sexual-assault/
  9. ———. Who Is the Safety Chick? YouTube, 2015. Retrieved 10 Oct. 2016. https://youtu.be/HGDiNNECPKw
  10. Bay-Cheng, Laina Y. “Recovering Empowerment: De-Personalizing and Re-Politicizing Adolescent Female Sexuality.” Sex Roles 66.11–12 (2011): 713–717.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-011-0070-x
  11. ———. “The Agency Line: A Neoliberal Metric for Appraising Young Women’s Sexuality.” Sex Roles 73 (2015): 279–291.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0452-6
  12. Bohner, Gerd et al. “Rape Myth Acceptance: Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Effects of Beliefs That Blame the Victim and Exonerate the Perpetrator.” Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking. Ed. M. A. H. Horvath and J. M. Brown. Willan, UK: Cullompton, 2009. 17–45.Google Scholar
  13. Bordo, Susan. “Postmodern Bodies.” Feminist Studies 18.1 (1992): 159–175.  https://doi.org/10.2307/3178218
  14. Brecklin, Leanne R., and Sarah E. Ullman. “Self-Defense or Assertiveness Training and Women’s Responses to Sexual Attacks.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 20.6 (2005): 738–762.Google Scholar
  15. Brecklin, Leanne R., and Taft C. Bryant-Davis. “The Benefits of Self-Defense Training for Sexual Assault Survivors.” Surviving Sexual Violence: A Guide to Recovery and Empowerment (2011): 276–295.Google Scholar
  16. Brown, Wendy. “Neo-Liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy.” Theory & Event, The Johns Hopkins University Press. 7 (2003): 1.Google Scholar
  17. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.Google Scholar
  18. ———. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. New York: Verso, 2004.Google Scholar
  19. Cahill, Ann J. “In Defense of Self-Defense.” Philosophical Papers 38.3 (2009): 363–380.Google Scholar
  20. Cahill, Ann J., and Grayson Hunt. “Should Feminists Defend Self-Defense?” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 9.2 (2016): 172–182.Google Scholar
  21. Carby, Hazel V. “‘On the Threshold of Woman’s Era’: Lynching, Empire, and Sexuality in Black Feminist Theory.” Critical Inquiry 12.1 (1985): 262–277.Google Scholar
  22. Casey, Erin A. et al. “Context, Challenges, and Tensions in Global Efforts to Engage Men in the Prevention of Violence against Women.” Men and masculinities 16.2 (2013): 228–251.Google Scholar
  23. Cermele, Jill A. “Teaching Resistance to Teach Resistance: The Use of Self-Defense in Teaching Undergraduates about Gender Violence.” Feminist Teacher 15.1 (2004): 1–15.  https://doi.org/10.2307/40545903
  24. ———. “Telling Our Stories: The Importance of Women’s Narratives of Resistance.” Violence Against Women 16.10 (2010): 1162–1172.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801210382873
  25. Clark, Carolyn, and Rossiter, Marsha. Narrative Learning in Adulthood. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 28.119 (2008): 61–70.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ace
  26. Clay-Warner, Jody. “Avoiding Rape: The Effects of Protective Actions and Situational Factors on Rape Outcome.” Violence and victims 17.6 (2002): 691–705.  https://doi.org/10.1891/vivi.17.6.691.33723
  27. Cole, Alison. “All of Us Are Vulnerable, But Some Are More Vulnerable than Others: The Political Ambiguity of Vulnerability Studies, an Ambivalent Critique.” Critical Horizons 17.2 (2016): 260–277.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14409917.2016.1153896
  28. Costa, Leeray M. “Teaching Epistemology and Difference Through Narrative Methodology.” Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy 16.2 (2005): 53–69.Google Scholar
  29. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. Random House, 2014.Google Scholar
  30. DeGue, Sarah et al. “A Systematic Review of Primary Prevention Strategies for Sexual Violence Perpetration.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 19.4 (2014): 346–362.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.05.004
  31. Dickson, Sandra. Building Rainbow Communities Free of Partner and Sexual Violence. Auckland: Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura, 2016. http://www.kahukura.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Building-Rainbow-Communities-Free-of-Partner-and-Sexual-Violence-2016.pdf
  32. Dickson, Sandra, and Nicola Wood. Reporting Sexual Violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Tauiwi Prevention Project, 2013. img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1611/Reporting_Sexual_Violence.pdf
  33. Durie, Mason. Whaiora: Maori Health Development. Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1994Google Scholar
  34. ———. “Te Pae Mahutonga: A Model for Maori Health Promotion.” Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Newsletter 49 (1999): 2–5.Google Scholar
  35. Exner-Cortens, Deinera, and Lana Wells. State of the Science Brief: Programmatic Approaches to Sexual Violence Prevention and Risk Reduction. 2017.Google Scholar
  36. Fanslow, Janet L. et al. “Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse Reported by a Cross-Sectional Sample of New Zealand Women.” Child Abuse & Neglect 31.9 (2007): 935–945. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213407002050
  37. Fisher, Walter R. “Narration as a Human Communication Paradigm: The Case of Public Moral Argument.” Communications Monographs, 51(1), (1984): 1–22.Google Scholar
  38. Flood, Michael. “Work with Men to End Violence against Women: A Critical Stocktake.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 1058. October (2015): 1–18.Google Scholar
  39. Foshee, Vangie A. et al. “Assessing the Long-Term Effects of the Safe Dates Program and a Booster in Preventing and Reducing Adolescent Dating Violence Victimization and Perpetration.” American Journal of Public Health 94.4 (2004): 619–624.  https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.94.4.619
  40. Fraser, Nancy. Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. Verso Books, 2013.Google Scholar
  41. Frazier, Kathryn E. “Agency on the Move: Revisioning the Route to Social Change.” Integr Psychol Behav Sci 47.3 (2013): 354–366.Google Scholar
  42. Frazier, Kathryn E, and Rachel Joffe Falmagne. “Empowered Victims? Women’s Contradictory Positions in the Discourse of Violence Prevention.” Feminism & Psychology 24.4 (2014): 479–499.Google Scholar
  43. Gidycz, Christine A., and Christina M. Dardis. “Feminist Self-Defense and Resistance Training for College Students: A Critical Review and Recommendations for the Future.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 15.4 (2014): 322–333.Google Scholar
  44. Gilson, Erinn Cunniff. “Vulnerability and Victimization: Rethinking Key Concepts in Feminist Discourses on Sexual Violence.” Signs 42.1 (2016): 71–98.  https://doi.org/10.1086/686753
  45. Gordon, Margaret T. and Stephanie Riger. The Female Fear: The Social Cost of Rape. University of Illinois Press., 1989.Google Scholar
  46. Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Ed. Elizabeth Grosz. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19341624
  47. Gutierrez, Lorraine M. “Beyond Coping: An Empowerment Perspective on Stressful Life Events.” Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 21.3 (1994): 201–220.Google Scholar
  48. Hall, Rachel. “It Can Happen to You: Rape Prevention in the Age of Risk Management.” Hypatia 19.3 (2004): 1–19.Google Scholar
  49. Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  50. Hollander, Jocelyn A. “‘I Can Take Care of Myself’ The Impact of Self-Defense Training on Women’s Lives.” Violence Against Women 10.3 (2004): 205–235. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1077801203256202
  51. ———. “The Roots of Resistance to Women’s Self-Defense.” Violence Against Women 15.5 (2009): 574–594. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1077801209331407
  52. ———. “Does Self-Defense Training Prevent Sexual Violence Against Women?” Violence Against Women 20.3 (2014): 252–269.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801214526046
  53. ———. “The Importance of Self-Defense Training for Sexual Violence Prevention.” Feminism & Psychology 26.2 (2016): 207–226.Google Scholar
  54. Hollander, Jocelyn A. and Katie Rodgers. “Constructing Victims: The Erasure of Women’s Resistance to Sexual Assault.” Sociological Forum 29.2 (2014)  https://doi.org/10.1111/socf.12087
  55. Irwin, Mary. Power in Our Hands: Self-Defence Skills and Strategies for Women. Auckland: Penguin Books, 1990.Google Scholar
  56. Jaffe, Peter G. et al. “An Evaluation of a Secondary School Primary Prevention Program on Violence in Intimate Relationships.” Violence and Victims 7.2 (1992): 129–46. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1419923
  57. James, Sandy E. et al. Executive Summary of the Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016.Google Scholar
  58. Jenkins, Kuni, and Leonie Pihama. “Matauranga Wahine: Teaching Maori Women’s Knowledge Alongside Feminism.” Feminism & Psychology 11.3 (2001): 293–303.Google Scholar
  59. Jones, Amy L. E., and Katy Mattingly. “Empowerment, Social Justice, and Feminist Self-Defense.” Affilia 31.2 (2016): 263–270.Google Scholar
  60. Jordan, Jan, and Elaine Mossman. Skills for Safety: An Evaluation of the Value, Impact and Outcomes of Girls’ and Women’s Self Defence in the Community. Wellington: 2016.Google Scholar
  61. Keller, Sarah N., Timothy Wilkinson, and A. J. Otjen. “Unintended Effects of a Domestic Violence Campaign.” Journal of Advertising 39.4 (2010): 53–68.  https://doi.org/10.2753/JOA0091-3367390404 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Lamb, Sharon, and Zoë D. Peterson. “Adolescent Girls’ Sexual Empowerment: Two Feminists Explore the Concept.” Sex Roles 66.11–12 (2011): 703–712.Google Scholar
  63. Lawler, Jennifer and Laura Kamienski. Training Women in the Martial Arts: A Special Journey. Terre Haute: Wish Publishing, 2007.Google Scholar
  64. Lawn, Jennifer, and Chris Prentice. “Introduction: Neoliberal Culture/The Cultures of Neoliberalism.” Sites 12.1 (2015): 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Lee, Judith A. B., and Rhonda E. Hudson. “The Empowerment Approach to Social Work Practice.” Social Work Treatment: Interlocking Theoretical Approaches. 1996. 218–249.Google Scholar
  66. LeMar, Florence, and Joe Gardiner. The Life and Adventures of Miss Florence LeMar, the World’s Famous Ju-Jitsu Girl. Wellington: privately published by the authors, 1913.Google Scholar
  67. Lytollis, S. Self Defence for Women. Auckland: New Women’s Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  68. Madden, Margaret E., and Thomas J. Sokol. “Teaching Women Self-Defense: Pedagogical Issues.” Feminist Teacher 11.2 (1997): 133–151. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40545790 Google Scholar
  69. Marcus, Sharon. “Fighting Bodies, Fighting Words: A Theory and Politics of Rape Prevention.” Gender Struggles: Practical Approaches to Contemporary Feminism. Ed. K. P. Addelson et al. New York: Routledge, 1992. 385–403.Google Scholar
  70. Mardorossian, Carine M. “Rethinking Rape and Rape on the Public Agenda and New Versions of Victims.” Signs 29.1 (2003): 265–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. McCaughey, Martha. Real Knockouts: The Physical Feminism of Women’s Self-Defense. NYU Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  72. ———. “Women’s Bodies: Resisting Oppression or Pawns of Neo-Liberalism?” See Jane Fight Back. 2017. Retrieved 25 Apr. 2017. https://seejanefightback.com/
  73. Mikaere, Ani. “Maori Women: Caught in the Contradictions of a Colonised Reality.” Waikato Law Review 2 (1994): 125.Google Scholar
  74. NZCSS. New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey: Main Findings. Wellington: Ministry of Justice, 2014.Google Scholar
  75. Orchowski, Lindsay M., Christine A. Gidycz, and Holly Raffle. “Evaluation of a Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Self-Defence Program: A Prospective Analysis of a Revised Protocol.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 32.2 (2008): 204–218.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00425.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Pease, Bob. “Rethinking Empowerment: A Postmodern Reappraisal for Emancipatory Practice.” British Journal of Social Work 32.2 (2002): 135–147.  https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/32.2.135 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Phipps, Alison. The Politics of the Body: Gender in a Neoliberal and Neoconservative Age. John Wiley & Sons, 2014.Google Scholar
  78. Pietsch, Nicole. “‘I’m Not That Kind of Girl’: White Femininity, the Other, and the Legal/Social Sanctioning of Sexual Violence Against Racialized Women.” Canadian Woman Studies 28.1 (2010): 136–140.Google Scholar
  79. Pihama, Leonie E. “Tīhei Mauri Ora, Honouring Our Voices: Mana Wahine as a Kaupapa Māori Theoretical Framework.” University of Auckland, 2001.Google Scholar
  80. Pihama, Leonie E., and Huriana McRoberts. Te Puāwaitanga O Te Kākano: Māori Views and Understandings of Sexual Violence. 2009.Google Scholar
  81. Plummer, Sara-Beth, and Patricia Findley. “Women with Disabilities’ Experience with Physical and Sexual Abuse: Review of the Literature and Implications for the Field.” Trauma, Violence & Abuse 13.1 (2012): 15–29.Google Scholar
  82. Rappaport, Julian. “Terms of Empowerment/Exemplars of Prevention: Toward a Theory for Community Psychology.” American Journal of Community Psychology 15.2 (1987): 121–148.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00919275
  83. Rentschler, Carrie. “#Safetytipsforladies: Feminist Twitter Takedowns of Victim Blaming.” Feminist Media Studies 15.2 (2015): 353–356.Google Scholar
  84. ———.“Women’s Self-Defense: Physical Education for Everyday Life.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 27.1/2 (1999): 152–161.Google Scholar
  85. Rouse, Wendy, and Beth Slutsky. “Empowering the Physical and Political Self: Women and the Practice of Self-Defense, 1890–1920.” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 13.4 (2014): 470–499.Google Scholar
  86. Sarnquist, Clea et al. “Rape Prevention Through Empowerment of Adolescent Girls.” Pediatrics 133.5 (2014): e1226–e1232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Senn, Charlene et al. “Efficacy of a Sexual Assault Resistance Program for University Women.” New England Journal of Medicine 372.24 (2015): 2326–2335.  https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsa1411131 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Senn, Charlene, Kristin Saunders, and Stephanie Gee. “Walking the Tightrope: Providing Sexual Assault Resistance Education for University Women without Victim Blame.” Violences Faites Aux Femmes. Ed. S. Arcand et al. Quebec City: University of Quebec, 2008. 353–372.Google Scholar
  89. Simmonds, Naomi. “Mana Wahine: Decolonising Politics.” Women’s Studies Journal 25.2 (2011): 11–25.Google Scholar
  90. Sinclair, Jake et al. “A Self-Defense Program Reduces the Incidence of Sexual Assault in Kenyan Adolescent Girls.” Journal of Adolescent Health 53.3 (2013): 374–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Solomon, Barbara Bryant. Black Empowerment: Social Work in Oppressed Communities. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.Google Scholar
  92. Stahl, Karen. “What Role Can Self-Defense Play in Our Efforts to Prevent Sexual Violence?” National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (2016): 1–10.Google Scholar
  93. Stringer, Rebecca. Knowing Victims: Feminism, Agency and Victim Politics in Neoliberal Times. Routledge, 2014.Google Scholar
  94. Talbot, Mary. “Choosing to Refuse to be a Victim: “Power feminism” and the intertextuality of victimhood and choice.” Ed. M. Lazar Feminist Discourse Analysis: Gender, Power and Ideology in Discourse. London: Palgrave, 2005. 167–180.Google Scholar
  95. Thompson, Martha E. “Empowering Self-Defense Training.” Violence Against Women 20.3 (2014): 351–359.Google Scholar
  96. Toki, Valmaine. “Are Domestic Violence Courts Working for Indigenous Peoples?” Commonwealth Law Bulletin 35.2 (2009): 259–290.Google Scholar
  97. Ullman, Sarah, and Raymond Knight. “A Multivariate Model for Predicting Rape and Physical Injury Outcomes during Sexual Assaults.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1991: 724–731.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.59.5.724
  98. van der Bruggen, Madeleine, and Amy Grubb. “A Review of the Literature Relating to Rape Victim Blaming: An Analysis of the Impact of Observer and Victim Characteristics on Attribution of Blame in Rape Cases.” Aggression and Violent Behavior 19.5 (2014): 523–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Vetten, Lisa. “Politics and the Fine Art of Preventing Rape.” Feminism & Psychology: Special feature: Preventing Rape – Commentaries in relation to Rich (2010) and Senn (2011) 21.2 (2011): 268–272.Google Scholar
  100. White, Deborah, and Gethin Rees. “Self-Defense or Undermining the Self? Exploring the Possibilities and Limitations of a Novel Anti-Rape Technology.” Violence Against Women 20.3 (2014): 360–368.Google Scholar
  101. Winkel, Frans Willem, and Esther De Kleuver. “Communication Aimed at Changing Cognitions About Sexual Intimidation Comparing the Impact of a Perpetrator-Focused Versus a Victim-Focused Persuasive Strategy.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 12.4 (1997): 513–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bell A. Murphy
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations