Tuesday, March 15, 2016

“You’re gonna get hit. It’s gonna hurt. Accept it.”

Lessons from Krav Maga: "Culturally, we don’t lionize women’s pain. Quite the opposite: women’s pain is seen as far more important, and far more worthy of ameliorating actions than men’s pain. A woman in physical pain can elicit a protective, reactive response from strangers almost anywhere. A man in physical pain is equally likely to be met with mocking and scorn as sympathy and care. Researchers call this ‘the empathy gap’, but it’s not as simple as women matter and men don’t. To be certain, there is a significant element of just not giving a shit about men who are hurting, which is how we get epidemic suicide rates and discriminatory laws and social practices that regard men as less emotionally worthy than women. Courts will tear a man’s children away from him without a moment’s thought, because his pain means nothing to the court. Men are sent to die in horrifying, terrifying wars, because men are expected to just deal with their fear and face death. Feminists diagnose these things as ‘toxic masculinity’, essentially blaming men for their own suffering. If men weren’t so hell-bent on being men, they would understand, like women do, that pain is to be avoided and never to be enjoyed. I have been training, for the past two months, in a martial art called Krav Maga. It’s not really accurate to call it a martial art. It’s a down and dirty, no holds barred, no rules street fighting style with a single goal: live. It’s combat. Biting, scratching, eye-gouging, ripping off ears, breaking limbs, dislocating joints and crotch shots are all game. And I fucking love it!"

...Finally, last week, my instructor watched me struggling, then gave me some advice: “When you’re in the scrum, getting shoved and hit, keep your hands up, block the hits, and breathe. Breathe deeply. You’re going to get hit. It’s going to hurt. Just accept it.” It’s hard to do. Like most women, I have no training of any kind to prepare for being hit. And obviously, I am excluding childhood tussles with siblings. That is not preparation. It’s childhood. We live in a culture that is practically hysterical in its insistence that women live in constant, unrelenting fear of violence, and yet, when it comes to actual violence, I have no context for it, as an adult. Because I’m a woman. And in particular, I’m a woman who doesn’t hit men. In actual fact, men are the ones who live with the reality of violence. Whether a man is hanging out with his friends at a bar, or walking home after a softball game, or riding the subway or basically doing anything in public, he must be prepared for violence. A man has to not only accept that he may be the victim of violence, but also called upon to carry out violence. Violence from other men, he can meet with violence of his own. Violence from a woman, he is not supposed (or even legally permitted) to respond to. If another man or woman gets attacked by other men or women, he is expected to step in, even at risk to himself. Failing to offer violent resistance is called the bystander effect. Men are supposed to intervene to protect others. I don’t understand how you can be a man in today’s society and not understand the lesson I learned just last week: You’re gonna get hit. It’s gonna hurt. Just accept it. "

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