Self-defense class knocks ‘fighting’ stigma

Lee-Anna Bardun

Seminar aims to empower women

Senior managerial marketing major Kelli Kratzenberg, senior biology major Kaitlin Harris and senior integrated language arts major Catherine Cousineau attended the Girls Fight Back! seminar in the Student Center yesterday. The women’s safety and self-def

Credit: DKS Editors

Female students learned how to fight back last night at a self-defense and safety seminar hosted by the organization Girls Fight Back.

Erin Weed, a college graduate of Eastern Illinois University, started Girls Fight Back in 2001 after her friend and sorority sister Shannon McNamara was murdered.

Michaela Jackson, of Girls Fight Back, led the workshop, which focused on simple techniques to stay safe. Jackson said one of the main problems surrounding sexual assault is the fact that people are not talking about it.

“Nearly everyone has a story about violence against women,” she said. “Even more heartbreaking is the fact that no one is talking about it.”

Jackson said this generation needs to get the ball rolling, and she encouraged women to get involved in self-defense.

“When women learn how to fight, it changes their whole physical demeanor,” she said. “They walk taller and with more confidence. Repeat the mantra, ‘I am so dangerous.'”

Jackson said a stigma is attached to women and self-defense, even mentioning her own apprehension when she walked into her first self-defense class.

“A lot of women are really afraid of being labeled a bitch,” she said. However, she said the worst thing you can do is just freeze and do nothing.

Listening to intuition is always a good thing.

“Your intuition is never going to put you in harm’s way,” she said. “It’s always going to lead you to a safer place.”

Sometimes when something isn’t right, you just know it, she said. Women should listen to those little voices in their heads telling them when something isn’t right.

Being a bad victim is another way to stay safe, she said. Jackson talked about how people tend to categorize others when they first see them. They tend to be so focused on the guy in the creepy van, that they miss the real predator in the freshly pressed khakis, she said. Predators can look a lot different from what people expect.

The self-defense techniques she taught were simple, yet effective. Doing little things like locking one’s door, installing simple alarms, and being safe at parties can really reduce your risk, she said.

Mallory Kaplan, of Sigma Sigma Sigma and vice president of risk management, organized the event for the National Panhellenic Council. The audience was largely female. Students who attended were looking to learn a little about how to defend themselves.

“I wanted to come because I haven’t taken any self-defense type of classes, and in the worst case scenario I might have to use some type of skill, hopefully, what I’ve learned today,” said Sarah Schicker, sophomore interior design major.

Schicker said self-defense is important, especially for female college students who are out at night, sometimes alone. She hopes to become more observant and able to identify danger.

Morgan Pike, sophomore visual communications design major, said she learned the “Badass Ballet,” a simple combination of moves to kick some butt.

The ballroom echoed with female voices as students took a firm stance with hands stretched out, “Stop! Leave me alone! I don’t want any trouble!”

Pike said she didn’t think things were going to get physical at the workshop, but she participated in the action. She hopes she never has to use the moves she learned at the workshop, but feels more prepared with her new knowledge, she said.

Students left the workshop knowing how to improvise objects from phones to car keys into dangerous weapons. Jackson demonstrated how to hold car keys in the fist like a dagger to gouge out the eyes of an approaching predator.

She also showed how seemingly harmless objects like a hairbrush could be used to rake across the face of an attacker.

Jackson said to always call 911 if ever attacked, and everyone should consider taking a full self-defense class. The seminar taught women how to fight back regardless of size and strength and sent a message of empowerment to all women.

“There is nothing more dangerous than an angry woman,” she said.

Contact student life reporter Lee-Anna Bardun at [email protected]