Empowerment for Women...Or Maybe Not.

As I mentioned earlier this week, occasionally my blog posts begin as Facebook statuses or replies that get too long and I suddenly realize, "I should blog about this!"

That happened this week as I responded to a post on Facebook about the controversy over comments Miss Nevada made prior to her crowning as Miss USA Sunday night.  I didn't watch the pageant, but as a "Taekwondo Mom" of a daughter who aspires to earn her black belt someday, I was thrilled to see that the new Miss USA is a 4th degree black belt in TKD.

I was completely stunned, however, to see the response to Nia Sanchez's comment Sunday night about women and girls learning self-defense.  At Sunday night's pageant, Rumer Willis brought up the topic of sexual assault on college campuses and asked Miss Sanchez why she thought it was being swept under the rug and what she thought should be done about it. Sanchez had 30 seconds to reply.

Here is Nia Sanchez's response:

I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public,” Nia Sanchez said. “But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.Washington Post

One would think that Miss Nevada's encouragement to young women to be confident and learn to defend themselves would be a good thing.  However, her comments set off a firestorm of controversy.

Many took to social media to criticize her comments, insisting that women shouldn't have to learn to protect themselves against rape, and that rather than teaching women/girls self-defense, we should be teaching men not to rape. Miss Sanchez was accused of blaming the victims.

Upon reading about this Monday morning, I was quite stunned.  Here is part of what I posted in reply to a friend's post on Facebook (a friend who was just as stunned as I, and who posted an excellent article about this subject herself: #msusa and #bepowerfulbestrong) :
No, women shouldn't have to learn self-defense to defend themselves from assault. People also shouldn't be murdered, mugged, or killed by drunk drivers. Babies shouldn't be aborted. People shouldn't cheat on their spouses. NONE of those things "should be". But we live in a fallen world, and as such, we have to do what we can to defend and protect ourselves and our families from the evil around us. Learning self-defense is one way we can do that.
Those who assault women don't do it because they don't know any better.  They know what they are doing is wrong.We can educate until the cows come home and there will still be evil and violence and crime.  That is our fallen world.

We can pray for God to change hearts and lives.  We can share the truth of His Word.  But we can't stop evil in this fallen world.  And just as we lock our houses to keep burglars from walking off with our valuables, and just as we safeguard our bank PIN, we can teach our children (male and female) self-defense techniques (and learn them ourselves).

Not everyone is going to become a black belt, as Miss USA did, and as our daughter aspires to do.  My other children aren't interested in weekly classes and belt testing, but they are learning at least some basic self-defense.  I'm not going to say that everyone should learn self-defense or teach it to their children (although I think it's a pretty good idea. :))  I'm certainly not saying everyone should take Taekwondo (although the more deeply involved our Bay gets with TKD, the more admiration I have for those who go on to advanced belt ranks.)

I am saying that to criticize someone for promoting self-defense for women and girls is ridiculous...particularly when these same people continually tout "empowerment for women".

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook.

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