A few months ago, after leaving the studio where I record my podcast, Girl Boner® Radio, I stood at a crosswalk awaiting my turn to cross a busy street.
“Hey, babe… Did anyone ever tell you you’re hot?”
The voice sounded from behind me, and kept going. It was the guy I’d passed moments before, and I could still feel his creepy vibes. Dammit, I thought, wishing I’d better observed his appearance. While it’s been years since I first read Gavin De Becker’s The Gift of Fear, I’ve formed the habit of looking at anyone who seemed to be watching or following me. How else could I describe the person to the police if, God forbid, I need to?
But I was tired and basking in post-show glow, and didn’t have it in me to turn around. I just wanted to get to my car, on the road to bypass traffic and home. During what seemed like the longest pedestrian light ever, the man continued to comment on my appearance, adding explicit details about my butt, my legs, my hair. Sensing that turning to face him at that point would only encourage him, I ignored him until, finally, I could cross the street.
Within minutes my mind had moved on. My mood had shifted some, sure, but I wasn’t fixating or troubled. Nor was the experience even close to the first thing I’d tell a friend that night.
When I eventually shared (“Oh, I forgot to tell you…”) he seemed more bothered by the ordeal than I was. What troubled me was the fact that I hadn’t made myself proactively aware of the harasser sooner. The actual thing, though? It’s…common. An everyday thing. Not only for me, but for women in general. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it did make it less surprising or memorable. That in itself is a problem.
That day I decided to sign up for the IMPACT self-defense class mentioned in The Gift of Fear, which I had wanted to take for years. Having recently completed it, I can’t articulate enough how empowering and important such training is.
There’s so much I could say about IMPACT and its mighty takeaways, but my favorite benefits are probably these:
- I felt more confident immediately, even after the first class, and have felt less fearful when alone or in public since. Only in taking the class did I realize just how much basal level anxiety I’d felt on a fairly consistent basis. (I wish I were unique here.)
- We learned to deal with the worst case scenarios, knowing that it’s better to be over prepared than under.
- One exercise focused on consent and declining “friendly” unwanted touch. Every human should learn this.
- Seeing other women learn and grow inspired me hugely. In sharing it, you can’t help but forge a special bond.
- On one of the days I was having a tough time emotionally, and still managed to learn and participate, much thanks to the supportive staff and classmates. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness, and we can still defense ourselves when under duress.
- People who take a self-defense class are significantly less likely to be attacked, according to recent research. I completely see why this is the case! Awareness and confidence are powerful.
Here’s a short clip, featuring one of my fights. It may be a bit intense for some folks, though my mom watched it and loved it (“I’m so glad you can do that!” ;)).
Have you taken a self-defense class? Have any questions about this one? Talk to me, if you’d like!