Yes, It’s Your Right to Wear What You Want; Just Understand the Consequences

Years ago when I and two other women ran a Tae Kwon Do school, I also did self-defense seminars. I held them for young children, for teens, for adults and seniors. For each seminar, I handed out my “*Everyday Weapons” cards for reminders (see this at the end of this post). Without question, the most difficult group was the teens, especially the girls.

The girls greatly objected to the idea that how they dressed had any relevance to how they were treated. They hotly argued that it was their right to dress as they pleased; they had good bodies; why not show them off? I listened to all their complaints, then told them that all actions, no matter how insignificant, have consequences. Example: dress like a slut, you will be viewed as such. “But that’s not fair!” they cried out. I told them that I couldn’t agree more, but we have no control over what other people think.

I also told them that preparation is everything. Here are some of the tips I gave them:

“Prior to going on a date, you need to understand that the way you dress and act sends clear messages about you. If you wear tight, revealing clothes on a date, you are sending a clear message that sexual advances are probably welcome. Perception is everything. You may be a nice and decent person who simply is looking forward to going out for dinner and a movie, but dressing provocatively gives the clear impression that you are looking for more than that. It isn’t fair, but that’s reality.

Here are some tips that may help (this covers women of all ages):

  • Decide before going on the date what you will and will not do. Don’t let circumstances or your date decide for you.
  • Do not arrange to meet someone you don’t know well at night. Have a lunch date instead, preferably at a popular, well-attended restaurant.
  • Stay sober. You don’t need alcohol or drugs to have a good time.
  • Always carry a credit card or enough money to get yourself home if your date drinks too much or uses drugs.
  • Know who you are with. Double-date with someone you know if you don’t feel comfortable.
  • Even someone you know well and feel you can trust can be tempted by the right circumstances to do something wrong. Avoid going to remote areas where there are no people, stores, or houses.
  • Make sure that your date understands that “No” means NO.
  • Keep something with you that you could use as a weapon if you have to.
  • Never go by appearances. Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer of many women looked like a nice all-American boy.

I don’t know to this day if any of the girls learned anything from their seminar; I hope that they did. I still believe that everyone can benefit from a good self-defense course. With the advent of all the amazing technology we now take for granted, it’s more important than ever to be alert when we are outside in the world. I stand by my dad’s constant refrain to me when I was growing up: “Be aware!”

*Everyday Weapons

Believe it or not, you carry potential weapons around with you every day. Here are some of the most common ones, and how they can be used:

Keys Jab into attacker’s eye, or in the hollow at the base of the throat.
Comb Scrape hard under attacker’s nose.
Pen/Pencil Jab into attacker’s eye, or in the hollow at the base of the throat.
Fingernails Make your first two fingers rigid, and jab into attacker’s eye.
Heels of shoes Stamp down hard on attacker’s instep (if they are wearing light footwear, such as sneakers). If grabbed from behind, scrape the heel down inside of attacker’s leg, then stamp down on attacker’s instep.
Rolled-up magazine or umbrella Poke hard into attacker’s throat (in the hollow at the base of the throat), gut, or *groin.
**Fists Punch hard into attacker’s throat.
Feet Kick attacker’s shins and knees hard.
Elbows If grabbed from behind, drive elbow as hard as you can into attacker’s midsection.
Yell Yell “FIRE!” This will get attention where yelling “Help” or “Rape” probably will not.

There are at least two good reasons to attack the attacker and leave a mark–it can slow or even stop the attack, giving you time to run. It also makes identifying the attacker much easier for the police.

Consider carrying any of the pepper spray canisters available today. Be aware of your state’s laws regarding carrying Mace or teargas.

** Fists: when you make a fist, always keep your thumb on the outside of your fist; don’t tuck it in your fist. If you don’t, you’ll probably break your thumb.

NOTE: Regarding kicking a male in the groin: if you’re going to do it, you’re going to have to do it hard enough so that he can’t get up. You can’t afford to go halfway here; you will only infuriate him if you don’t follow through.


Use Your Head – It’s Your Best Self Defense Weapon

Here are some quick tips to keep yourself safe:

When you are out and about on own, walking, running, biking, etc., DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES OR EAR BUDS–EVER! I know you think that you can listen to your music and stay alert, but the fact is that you actually can’t. If you are plugged in to your device, then you are not plugged into the world around you.

I was a martial artist for years. I also taught what I called “Common Sense Self Defense” for years. (I no longer practice as I pushed my body so hard that years later my rotator cuffs tore like tissue paper. The bad knee I got while participating in tournaments is still wonky to this day, and I now have to do that oh-so-graceful four-point stance to get up from the floor.)

I still observe the rules I learned a long time ago to keep safe. The ultimate best weapon truly is your head. Keep it in the game, be aware of where you are, who is around you, and don’t think for a second that something can’t happen to you.

I understand: bad things can happen to the most prepared and aware person. But you stand a far better chance of staying safe if you stay AWARE.

And one more tip: whenever you’re in your vehicle, LOCK THE DOORS. This also goes for when you get out to pump gas. Take your keys, your credit card/cash and lock up the vehicle while you pump gas. It is incredibly easy for someone to sneak around the side of your vehicle, open the door a crack and grab your purse, wallet, the cake you just picked up at the bakery (and wouldn’t THAT ruin your day?), whatever. Play it safe and make it a habit.

OK, that’s my lesson for today. I will be posting more common sense self-defense tips in the near future.