Note: I am not arguing in favor of violence for the sake of violence. Merely for violence as a tool when necessary. Please read my post in its entirety before accusing me of arguing in favor of violence.
Violence as Confusion
Our society has a really unusual relationship with violence. We love violent movies, violent video games, and violent sports, but we send mixed messages about violence in real life. "Zero tolerance" was the phrase used in my high school. If you got into a fight with another student on school grounds (or even off, in some cases) you were both equally culpable, despite the circumstances. No ifs, ands, or buts. I remember a school seminar on this once where I mentioned to an admin that I had been the victim of an unprovoked attack recently near my home, to which she responded, "That never happens." I said, "The chipped molar in my jaw indicates otherwise," and she proceeded to tell me that I must have provoked it somehow.
And then the usual spiel about how violence is "never the answer." Blah blah blah.
Violence is never the first answer given other choices, but it is sometimes a legitimate answer. Sometimes, given no other choices, it is the only answer.
Painting people into the "violence is never the answer" corner and having silly "zero tolerance" rules leaves victims vulnerable to bullies and those who will use violence against others because it tells people that defending themselves will be seen as the same thing as harassing another person. That's absurd. It's a weird mutation of teaching people to refrain from violence that, frankly, empowers those who seek to use violence for their own self-gain.
We shouldn't encourage people to be violent, but we shouldn't make violence itself into some dirty word idea. Violence, like most other concepts, is inert until it intersects with intention and reality. Some violence is "good," some is "bad." It is all inert as a concept until it's actually applied.
Violence as a Tool of Defense
The notion of violence being inherently bad is especially aimed at girls and women. Violence isn't "ladylike." Women shouldn't be angry. Women don't need to know how to fight (pepper spray, amirite?) Women are physically weaker anyway, so it's a waste.
And so on.
My friend is a practicing martial artist. She had someone try to mug her one night, and when he want to grab her, she threw him over the hood of a car on to his back. In his shock, he ran off. She's not a large person, and she's definitely not "threatening looking," but in that moment she committed an act of violence that may have saved her from a serious assault or even death.
But according to that school admin of mine, she would have been at fault because "zero tolerance" applies to everyone.
My friend's training in violence kept her safe, and gave her the confidence to defend herself against the malice of another person. It was a useful tool at that moment, and she is sure glad that she had it at her disposal.
Why Women Should Be More Violent for Their Own Sakes
Note that my sub-title doesn't advocate that women should go around mugging strangers or murdering puppies, but something different. Women are, in my observation as a third party, often taught to be "demure" or "ladylike." This also includes being non-violent no matter what. This is a load of horseshit. By taking away anger (this topic is its own, but not a good fit for here) and violence as tools, you tell women that they should be victims of the violence of others. In my opinion, the "zero tolerance" policies hurt women more than anyone because they push them in corners.
I applauded my friend who decked her mugger. Other people said, "but what if he tried to hurt you more? You're a woman!" So what was the alternative?
- Consent to his demands
- Run away
Violence was the third option, and one that she took— to good effect!
In a situation where you are physically at risk, you deal with the unknowns as best as you can. But by having violence at her disposal, she had one more tool she wouldn't have had otherwise. She surprised this man, who figured a woman would be an "easy" hit. Now he might think twice.
Teaching women to absolutely abhor violence is another way to give people power over them. The meek will not inherit the Earth, the good will. And sometimes the good do what they must.
Don't make the Perfect the Enemy of the Good
In a "perfect" world nobody would ever need violence (maybe? wild animal attack?) But we don't live in a perfect world, and we sure as hell aren't going to live in one in our lifetimes. We shouldn't live our lives in the ideal, but in the reality. We therefore should also not teach our children to ignore reality (despite what bored bureaucrats say) and not learn how to defend themselves. We should teach men, women, and children that violence is bad when it's applied with evil intent. But we should also teach them that defending themselves or others is not only justifiable, but ethically good.
And this, again, is why I will teach my child, girl or boy, martial arts.
Edit: Just a great video showing how women can learn to be fantastic fighters in my style: