A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a particularly angry female. I made the mistake of thinking she had emailed me to have a dialogue (which wasn’t the case as it turned out). Her anger reflects an imbalance in the recommendations for women’s self-defense currently running through the interwebs.

In the left-over energy following the #METOO movement, there are two dominant ideas:

  1. Women shouldn’t learn to defend themselves – society needs to change
  2. Women need to be ready to scream and hit everyone and anyone who may cross a boundary

As to number one: the first part? Nonsense. No one sends a fighter into the ring without training. If  you want to learn physical self-defense, go do it. Have fun. Hitting things …and… ahem …. people is fun! The second part? Deep topic. There is always something about society that can and probably should change.

As to number two: this is where the hostile email comes in. I was interviewed for an article about sexual assault on planes. In the interview, we discussed the Predator Test. During a flight the test could be an option for sorting out the intention behind someone’s “innocent” physical contact. It starts with a request to the possible nefarious human whose body parts (knee, elbow, possibly a hand) has drifted from one tiny bubble of space into your own.

The woman who emailed me was particularly angry about this option and shared that the only advice I should be giving is for women to stand up and scream “Get your F-ing hands off me!!!!” at the top of their lungs and to keep screaming and yelling.

Not everyone on a plane who touches your leg is a predator. Her response to that statement was “YOU are part of the problem”.

I’m wrong on a lot of things, I’m sure. Not on this one. I travel a fair amount. I’ve had my knees, shins, arms, elbows, even a shoulder and thigh “touched”. None of the actions were nefarious. It’s a tiny little space with a metric ton of humans crammed together. Once, I even had a guy’s head on my knee. He had dropped his cell phone and wasn’t a particularly small human and had to bend sideways to fold forward far enough to reach his phone which had scooted under the seat in front of him.

Awkward? Yup. The beginning of sexual assault? Nope.

If you train or study on methods to improve your physical safety, please do not let your training make you paranoid. Training should make your life BETTER. Standing up mid-flight screaming at the passenger next to you has a 50/50 shot of getting YOU in trouble. If the idiot next to you is a predator, they’ll live on to hunt a new target while you’re in hot water with the flight crew and …once you land… law enforcement.

Live well. Live fiercely. Be the warrior in a garden who can tend the blooms and be ready for battle should the need arise.