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Roots of Resistance to Women's Self-Defense

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 15 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2009 Pages: 574-594
Jocelyn A. Hollander
Date Published
May 2009
21 pages
This article discusses three major types of resistance to women’s self-defense (and to women’s resistance to violence) and suggests some reasons why these reactions are so frequent.
The three forms of resistance described in this article: the belief that women’s resistance is impossible, that it is too dangerous, and that it risks blaming the victim are common because they fit widespread cultural conceptions of gender. It is argued that one source of these reactions is people’s taken-for-granted beliefs about gender, which limit their ability to understand the research on women’s resistance and self-defense, and prevent them from being able to conceptualize women as strong and competent social actors. Understanding women’s self-defense, and understanding women’s resistance more generally, requires that women be seen as strong, powerful, potentially violent, smart, and complex human beings. It also requires that men be seen as something other than invulnerable. Those who teach or research women’s self-defense often encounter significant resistance from others. To change these patterns, there must be a better understanding why people resist or ignore self-defense training as a viable method of sexual assault prevention. Until then, women will continue to have limited access to the empowering and potentially life-saving information that resisting sexual violence is both possible and also often effective. References