Thursday, May 17, 2018

Women's Self-Defence and Fear

I'm working on my book tentatively titled Fear and Fight: Understanding Our Natural and Learned Responses to a Threat. Specifically I'm working on the chapter applying the information presented in the book to understand certain aspects of women's self-defence training.

I'm referring to an article written by Carrie A. Rentschler titled 'Women's Self-Defense: Physical Education for Everyday Life. In the introduction to her article, Rentschler explains that self-defence gives women tools to manager their fear. Fear is an emotion that was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual. Why then do we need to manage our fear if fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual?

Colonel John M. House, in Why War? Why an Army?, explains that soldiers must overcome their fear of death and injury in order to act and survive on the battlefield. Why must soldiers overcome their fear of death and injury in order to survive on the battlefield if fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual? It's because of House's ordering of military priorities: act first, survive second. Act is mission accomplishment. As the U.S. Marine Corps says, 'Survival alone is not a desirable of a Marine.' Ways and means are developed by the military in order to overcome fear in battle in order to promote mission accomplishment over individual survival.

For women's self-defence, mission accomplishment is individual survival. So why then do we need to manage fear if fear was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual?

The title of Gavin de Becker's best-selling book is The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence. Why look the 'gift horse' of fear in the mouth?

There are answers to that question, however, an understanding of the emotion of fear raises this question. A question that instructors of women's self-defence courses and those that write on the subject should address from the get-go. It's not enough to assume that fear is 'bad'; they need to say why fear is bad and in need of management.

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