We knew the anon was submitting bait before I answered the question, but thanks for letting me know where it came from. Sadly, that’s a sexist opinion I’ve seen expressed elsewhere, even in the bowls of the martial arts community. For every made up experience, there’s a chance of a real one happening somewhere else. All they did was give me a chance to once again talk about self-defense and debunk sexist attitudes often taken as fact.
Since the post has garnered over 700 notes at this point, I’d say it was worth it and I’m glad my answer resonated with so many people.
It saddens me (though doesn’t surprise me) that this attitude is pushed by women, especially ones who claim to be feminists and straight up weird for someone claiming to be part of the radical feminist strand. They sound like the same group they’re railing against, reinforcing damaging gender stereotypes and societal roles, and telling women they’re helpless.
One of the main reasons I started this blog, oh so many eons ago, was to help debunk the sexism that surrounds the combat arts (more so in fiction than in real life) and use my experiences growing up in martial arts help other young women stretch outside the narrow framework provided for female action heroes. Though the internet has made information on martial arts more readily available than ever before, I know finding easily accessible information on combat is difficult and the best of it is often not designed for neophytes much less someone with no experience in the community. Writers need to understand concepts more than they need a grasp of the technical knowledge, and understanding concepts can be a launch pad into the real thing.
Whether its the written word or visual mediums, entertainment media has the ability to change cultural attitudes. Storytelling are part of the way we communicate and understand the world, both ourselves as individual cultures, express our beliefs, and what we hope to be. Its why representation is important. The more diverse our options, then the more options we have to find ourselves in a world where we don’t always feel like we fit.
There are plenty of qualities defined as “masculine” which aren’t limited to men at all, and reasons why male action heroes resonate deeply with the audience when female heroes don’t which has everything to with story structure but mistaken for gender. Instead of it being treated as a problem with the way stories are told about action girls, it’s mistaken for “well, girls can’t do it.”
That feeds back into real life and into the cycle of abuse. A cycle that is taught, conditioned by society, but treated as “natural”. So when the unthinkable happens, when we create a situation where its inevitable, we blame nature.
Culturally devised “not for you” is a powerful disincentive. It’s more a mental block that exists in our own minds, rather than one which exists in the real world. Learning to climb over the hurdle and lay claim to those parts of ourselves, the ones we feel we’re not supposed to have or out of reach, is by itself groundbreaking. For ourselves, if for anyone else.
We all have the power inside us to lift our chins, look disaster in the eye, and say, “Not me! Not today!”
It might take going out to learn, it might take some encouragement, and time, but there are so many options available if we look for them. It saddens me some radfems on this site are actively promoting the victim narrative and actively discouraging young women from seeking out alternative options, ones which will ultimately empower them.
It’s true that none of us can control the choices others make, even if it’s to harm us. However, we do have power over ourselves. We’re not cast adrift nor left at the mercy of the waves, waiting for someone else to save us. We can’t control if disaster will happen, but we can choose to ready ourselves for it should it come.
Cheesy as it sounds, chasing what we believe is possible will work its way into fact. That’s how humans work. People break through the impossible all the time.
Finding that representation in fiction, imagining it for ourselves as we write it, all of that can make its way back around to seeking those same confident feelings out in the life beyond our imaginations. Dreams often have a way of becoming reality, which really is awesome when you think about it.
The answer should never be, “not me”. It should be, “well, why not me?”