Miss USA’s Self Defense Solution

Apparently there’s been a bit of a hub-bub over comments made by the most recent Miss USA (the fact that we still have beauty pageants kind of baffles me, but whatever) in which she suggests women learn self defense to avoid rape and sexual assaults.

Honestly, I don’t really know specifically what she said, but that’s essentially what I heard she said….If you couldn’t tell by now, journalistic writing is not exactly my strong suit. Anyway, from what I understand that was her stance on combating sexual assualt, and apparently the internet lost their minds.

Let’s get this out right here, right now: there is no one, simple solution to this problem, and I think that’s where Miss USA made a mistake. Maybe she interpreted the question as “what is one thing that can contribute to reducing the instances of rape and sexual assault?” Because really, it’s a multi-faceted problem that doesn’t have just one solution. And I can see where people would be angry at a simple response of “teach women self defense”- it transfers responsibility of the crime from the transgressor to the victim, and sounds too similar to blaming a victim because of how they were dressed and were somehow inviting the assault.  But then we should also be angry at the simple response of “teach men not to rape”. We teach people all the time not to lie, steal, murder and a slew of other crimes that happen all around the world every single day. This is a problem that has to be addressed from multiple sides in order to see serious change.

I believe (and hope) that Miss America had the best of intentions in her response, and I do endorse the idea of women learning and consistently practicing self defense methods, but also agree with the rest of the internet in the assertion that it is not the end-all, be-all solution to the problem.

What do you all think about what she said? Let me know- otherwise, have a great day everyone!


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9 responses to “Miss USA’s Self Defense Solution

  1. Shannon

    I think this is a beauty contest, not a Mensa gathering and asking these girls these kinds of questions is ridiculous. Not to discount their intelligence, I’m sure there’s some smart ones. But what are they going to do about any of the issues they’re asked about anyway? War, rape, world hunger, etc…

    I’m with you though. It’s multi-faceted. Self-defense is great, but there’s still the issue of a gun to your head and how you will act in a real situation vs. a training situation.

  2. Jaime

    Why are you addressing the situation without doing any research? Doesn’t it make sense to actually hear her answer before writing a blog about it?

    Here is what she actually said. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD-A6aPS1ds

    Doesn’t sound like victim blaming to me. How does it sound like that to you?

    Could it be that she was saying that women shouldn’t rely on colleges to protect themselves? That they should learn to defend themselves? Is that wrong? If so, why?

    • Katie

      I’m sure most of the Internet has written about this topic without properly researching it: the Internet is rife with misquotes and misinformation due to poor fact checking. I’m just willing to confess I haven’t performed the proper research.

      But, I did listen to her answer and she did emphasize self defense and glossed over colleges raising awareness, and in a sort of way that could be construed as her feeling it is more of the victim’s responsibility to prevent or effectively defend themselves against assault.

      As I stated in my post, that’s not what I thought she meant, but rather how it could be interpreted: I fully believe this woman had the best intention at heart with her answer but well, the Internet is a cruel place and people often take things the wrong way.

      As I said, this is a difficult, multifaceted problem that doesn’t have just one simple solution. Women learning self defense is a good part of it, schools raising awareness is also a piece to the puzzle, but again, it’s going to take an effort on multiple fronts to see a serious change.

      • Jaime

        So you’re reacting to a reaction? Um…OK. Why not look up the video, judge it and react to it? It took me 1 minute to find it.

        Did she say that self defense was the be all end all or did she focus on what she knew most about which was self defense given the fact that she’s a black belt in Tae Kwon Do? Is it better to talk about what you know versus what you don’t know? Or is it better to just speak about stuff you don’t know?

        Did she say it was the victim’s fault? How did she say it? I didn’t hear that at all. Please indicate where in her statement she blames the victim.

        Of course it’s multifaceted. Did she expressly deny it? Did she subtly deny it? I didn’t hear that either. Please indicate her subtle denial that rape on college campuses is wrong.

        Not to mention that people freaking out at her for her statement are acting as if rapists are rational actors. Show me a rapist who went through a logical process to make the decision to rape someone. A rational person says 2 + 2 = 4. A rapists says 2 + 2 = 5, therefore no means yes, therefore I can rape her. Does that sound logical to you?

        Also, we have to admit the fact that colleges have NO business investigating rape. They have no idea what they are doing and should leave it to the experts: the police. We’ve heard time and time again about rapists being protected by colleges because they are star athletes. Or cops actually accusing the victim of fucking up and making up rape stories?

        So, could it be that she was saying you as a woman have to rely on yourself because the institutions will fail you. Can we really deny the evidence that they do fail us?

        Again, tell me how I’m wrong and the prevailing assessment of her statement is correct. I’ll wait.

      • Katie

        Well, that’s the fun part about owning your very own blog- you can write whatever you want, just as you have a choice as to read whatever you want. I can write about rainbows and ponies if I choose, and you have a choice as to whether or not you want to read about rainbows and ponies.

        I am pretty sure we both agree the Internet has misplaced their rage. I don’t think she was attempting to place blame on the victim, but I could see through her timed restrained, limited choice of words why someone would have that (mistaken) impression. Sort of like country music- personally, not a fan but I can see why some people may find the genre appealing.

        However, if you still truly believe that I think she was blaming victims, that I agree with the general Internet opinion (which, this will be the third time I have stated I do not) then I suggest you go back to my original post and read again. I know what I said, and I will not apologize for expressing my (honestly, fairly mild) opinion about it.

        In regards to a college’s involvement with these sorts of attacks- I think there needs to be unbiased, harsh punishments for rapists and absolutely agree there needs to be police involvement. Sexual assault and rape are crimes, and crimes need to be reported to the authorities.

        And finally, let’s be real, it was a beauty pageant answer for Pete’s sake, not an argument in an effort to persuade state legislature. I just thought it was worth noting because it has to do with women’s self defense- it just happened to be connected to a hot topic right now.

  3. Perhaps she meant it in terms of empowering women in order for them to be best able to ‘take control’ in that situation? But yes I think it is very much a multi faceted problem.

  4. (Late to this post, sorry!) I teach self defense on a college campus and I struggled with this topic. Yes, the responsibility falls to the rapist not the victim so a singular focus on what (disproportionaly victimized) women should do and shouldn’t do (like self-defense) is harmful and incomplete and perpetuates rape culture by relieving both aggressors and institutions of their responsibility to prevent assault.

    BUT, according to Sarah E. Ulman’s 2007 “10 Year Update of Review and Critique of Empirical Studies of Rape Avoidance” she discusses how there are NO studies that suggest any classes that aim to teach men not to rape are effective. That doesn’t mean they are absolved of responsibility, but it does cast women’s self defense in an interesting light for me.

    Later, Ullmen summarizes research that shows all the myriad benefits women get from learning self-defense. Increased confidence, increased sense of safety, reduction of so-called rape avoidance strategies many of which limit women’s movement in the world, increased self-esteem. The list goes on.

    Even though men should not rape, the fact is they do. And so we fight.

    BUT, totally agreed: just because we have been force to react to a violent world by learning self defense it doesn’t mean that our institutions and (disproportionatly offending) men have been somehow relieved of their responsibility. The resistance must be on many fronts to end this kind of violence.

    Sarah E. Ullman research: http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/jhamlin/3925/4925HomeComputer/Rape%20myths/10-Year%20Update.pdf

    An article I wrote about this topic: http://www.she-kicks-she-throws.com/the-complexity-of-womens-self-defense/

    Thanks again for hosting this discussion!

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