Does America have a rape culture problem? Are our young ladies at risk of harm because of prevailing cultural attitudes that disrespect their physical integrity? Or is so-called rape culture just a myth?
To tell you the truth, I don’t care. Fighting over cultural semantics is the last thing that’s going to keep women safe. Worse, it’s a huge distraction from focusing on what really matters: safety and self-defense.
Whatever the nuanced situation about rape culture may be, certain bare truths still hold: rape is illegal and absolutely condemned by society. Rapists don’t do their awful misdeeds because no one properly educated them to as to the finer points of respecting the fairer sex. They got the memo. They just don’t care. Rapists rape for two reasons: because they’re monsters, and because they can. There isn’t much we can do about the first reason. Let’s take away the second reason by equipping women to defend themselves against these villains.
That’s what I do for a living. I teach good people to break the bad people that would do them harm. Solid unarmed self-defense skills are a crucial last line of defense in personal safety. Carrying a firearm sure helps, too. Most important of all is situational awareness: stay in public lighted areas as often as possible, keep your eyes open to potential threats, be careful you don’t ingest any consciousness-altering drugs, and carry yourself with an overall air of calm, quiet confidence. That alone should be enough to avoid the vast majority of attackers. Those you can’t avoid are in for a nasty, painful surprise.
So go ahead, debate rape culture without end. All you’re doing is diverting attention from what really stops rape: self-defense. My conscience won’t allow that. I’m going to do my very best to ensure that women have every chance on the world of being safe from violence of all kinds. I suggest you do the same.
Joël Valenzuela, the editor of The Desert Lynx, is a 3rd degree black belt in the American Taekwondo Association and a full-time martial art and self-defense instructor.