Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Women's Self-Defence and Help-Seeking Behaviour

This post comes from my drafting of the chapter on women's self-defence in my tentatively titled, Fear and Fight: Understanding Our Natural and Learned Responses to a Threat.

Liz Kelly and Dr. Nicola Sharp-Jeffs (2016) were commissioned by the European Parliament Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs to examine research on the effectiveness of (women’s) self-defence and its place in policies at European Union and Member State levels. 
... After reviewing different forms of WSD, Kelly and Sharp-Jeffs proposed an outline of the minimum standards empowering feminist self-defence should contain:

Two of the minimum standards refer to the strategy of engaging in help-seeking behaviour.

Help-seeking behaviour has been identified as a natural, instinctive (unconscious), defensive behaviour. Why teach a natural, instinctive, defensive behaviour? It would be like teaching to run away from a threat (aka flight).

There are possible answers to that question.

It may be to reinforce a natural, instinctive, defensive behaviour.

It may be to promote it more toward the front of the 'defensive cascade' that is our natural responses to a threat.

It may be to refine our natural, instinctive, defensive help-seeking behaviour in which case it is seeking to replace our natural behaviour with a learned behaviour.

It may be seeking to provide a behavioural option to our natural response to a threat which may be chosen due to the 'latency time' provided by the decoupling of stimulus and response provided by emotion.

Or it may be because the basic WSD strategy is to turn fear into anger and help-seeking is not a natural instinctive behavioural response associated with anger.

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