below the belt (with Susan Schorn)
November 12, 2014 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Susan Schorn - How to Kick a Guy in the Balls: An Illustrated Guide
All of this — the element of surprise, the psychological impact, the pain — make the groin a truly magnificent target in self defense situations. And yet we're all, men and women alike, conditioned by society to bypass the groin as a target, to pretend it isn't there, just as we're taught to pretend that rude bodily noises are never audible at important social functions. This makes me sad. Kicking a guy in the balls, while not guaranteed to incapacitate him (nothing's guaranteed in life), is definitely one of your better options in a serious physical assault — and I say that not only as a self defense instructor, but also as a certified Emergency Medical Technician. In terms of trauma, you get a lot of bang for your buck when you attack the groin.

So let's demystify this forbidden technique. Here's how (and why) you should kick a guy in the balls... I've illustrated this guide to kicking a guy in the balls with instructive video clips compiled from MMA fights.
*possible thread soundtrack: MeFi Music fave "Punch 'Em in the Dick" (NSFW) - YouTube video
*Jezebel comment thread on the original post: "Came for the illustrated guide to kicking a guy in the balls, stayed for the misandry gifs."


Susan Schorn's ongoing column for McSweeney's Internet Tendency -
Bitchslap: A Column About Women and Fighting (index of all columns)

some Bitchslap highlights:
*The Rules (rules "for the woman who gets a black eye during karate class")
*Dressing Up, Looking Down (on high heels)
*Pain is Womanly, and Other Bullshit Myths of Childbirth (on natural childbirth)
*Sticks and Stones (on harassment & HollaBack)
*Below the Belt (on Jesse Bering’s Slate essay re: evolution and rape)
*Fuck the Dude Up ("So I’m backing off a bit, these days, from the ethic of least harm.")
*It's the Little Things ("One telltale marker of microaggression is that it disrupts empathy.")
*Control Freaks ("Having previously been taken to task for advising people to use violent force, I’m amused to now find myself being heckled for suggesting that anyone, especially a law enforcement officer, should use anything less than lethal force.")

Her latest piece "addresses the important question of how to choose the best 19th-century writer for your side in a gang war":
"Of course, studying Austen and Brontë’s combat skills is only one of many reasons to read their work, but I wish more people would view their novels through the lens of conflict. They model two distinct styles of fighting, and I think women especially need to see more potential ways we can fight. No matter how constrained we are by the gender expectations of our day, we can still find ways to protect ourselves and make our own decisions. And that’s the real key to living happily ever after."

Susan Schorn holds a Ph.D in Victorian Literature, a first-degree black belt in Kyokushin karate, a second-degree black belt in Seido karate, and national certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. She is also the author of Smile at Strangers: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly (Amazon link) (a review of the book).
posted by flex (112 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
I believe that everyone's body deserves respect. And I also believe in consequences. Imagine if 20 to 50 percent of male sexual assailants suffered genital injury. Isn't it possible that fewer men would be willing to commit assault?

I wonder how we could find out?


Well women, the balls are in your court.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:23 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


And yet we're all, men and women alike, conditioned by society to bypass the groin as a target, to pretend it isn't there,

The first thing I ever learned in Krav Maga was how to most effectively knee an assailant in the groin; it's basically the cornerstone of the entire martial art. Years later, I can still hear my instructor yelling, in his thick Israeli accent, "KNEE TO THE BALLS! KNEE TO THE BALLS!"
posted by Itaxpica at 3:28 PM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


Someone's going to have to link to this, might as well be me.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:33 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


And yet we're all, men and women alike, conditioned by society to bypass the groin as a target, to pretend it isn't there

My mother always told me that in a fight I should go for the groin, or possibly try to gouge out my attacker's eyes with my keys. It wasn't until I was grow that I realized that she was teaching her sons women's self defence, and why not?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:35 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Susan Schorn holds a Ph.D in Victorian Literature, a first-degree black belt in Kyokushin karate, a second-degree black belt in Seido karate, and national certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. She is also the author of Smile at Strangers: And Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly (Amazon link) (a review of the book).

So basically Ms Schorn is well prepared for the apocalypse.

Me? I'm pretty good at making sammiches.
posted by notyou at 3:39 PM on November 12, 2014


You know, after that nonsense about Time magazine including "feminism" on their vote-to-ban-this-word list and the 4chan/Gamergate/MRA bloc instantly voting it straight to the top, I kind of needed this.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [18 favorites]


there is porn of this
posted by thelonius at 3:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Susan Schorn at The Hairpin - The Shark Has Pretty Teeth, Dear: Why I Teach Women Self-Defense
(on feminism, rape culture, and empowerment self-defense)
posted by flex at 3:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I am a staunch Susan Schorn fan. She's v. good on the Twitter.
posted by COBRA! at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2014


As someone who grew up in the seventies and early eighties when violent crimes were triple the rate they are now I advise against a kick to the balls as an initial tactic. I understand the inclination from Jezebel because man=balls but it hardly ever works. Much better is a punch to the nose as it makes the eyes water.
posted by vapidave at 3:48 PM on November 12, 2014


I guess we're back to saying "I'd hit it." again.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:56 PM on November 12, 2014


we're all, men and women alike, conditioned by society to bypass the groin as a target, to pretend it isn't there

This is just the furthest thing from true.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:56 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Much better is a punch to the nose as it makes the eyes water.

As someone who grew up with balls, I can vouch for the fact that being kicked hard in them didn't really make my eyes water so much as it made them pour forth tears like those of a tiny sobbing infant.
posted by howfar at 4:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


vapidave: As someone who grew up in the seventies and early eighties when violent crimes were triple the rate they are now I advise against a kick to the balls as an initial tactic. I understand the inclination from Jezebel because man=balls but it hardly ever works. Much better is a punch to the nose as it makes the eyes water.

I found a response to this!

This response (almost universally from men) is so common I've come to think of it as "groinsplaining"—you can see it many of the YouTube comments in the videos linked above. These people rarely volunteer to demonstrate their own iron balls in a real kicking situation, but they confidently assert that men in general can shrug off all kinds of damage to the groin. All I can say is, I've seen two-year-olds take down grown men via the groin, and toddlers don't even have any training. I do. I like my odds.

That's from the article! It's almost like you didn't read it!
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 4:04 PM on November 12, 2014 [42 favorites]


The real mistake would be expecting the kick to end things for you. It might! Then again, it might not (a punch in the nose definitely will not). A kick in the balls will, however, almost certainly provoke a response, and if you are expecting that response, you can use it to do something more useful, like run away or do something a little more decisive.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:10 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I stress that getting hit in the balls really sucks, but the examples of ball pain cited in the article were inflicted by trained martial artists/athletes. Most people, doing the kicking/kneeing/punching will not be theses things, and while working out/training doesn't really increase your ability to take testicular punishment, it will definitely increase your ability to deliver it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:12 PM on November 12, 2014


Totally agree that this is a decent self defense technique. I mean you barely have to even aim, their legs will just guide your foot directly to the target.

I take issue with the idea that the groin is a mysterious self-defense blind spot. I think to some extent, the blind spot is recognizing when you have to fight at all. This is actually a fundamental part of human nature. This is not a fault of any person, the factors that affect this decision are deeply primal. It's a struggle to even recognize that you should run away from a bad situation, let alone commit to inflicting violence on another person until they are no longer a threat.

I'd like to pick a little bit of a bone with the idea that the rules of sports martial arts are really set because of squeamishness. If it were legal to have no-holds-barred martial arts competitions, you could probably find people eager or desperate enough to compete in them. But I think as a business, it would actually suck. You would have really poor merchandising opportunities. Your fighters would not last long. There would be very little opportunity to build a brand or story around champion fighters, because one slight mistake in the ring would probably be career-ending. Since very few competitors will have long careers, the quality of the competition would be much lower. I imagine that the audience for a legendary match between two rivals at the top of their game, is bigger and more lucrative than the audience for watching two guys who no one has ever heard of flail desperately at each other until someone gets in a lucky hit.
posted by rustcrumb at 4:13 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Huh, I don't know if I wholly believe the argument, but her column on high heels and eye contact is the only argument against wearing heels that has come close to making me think heels make me the victim of patriarchy as much as I hear that they do. Possibly because one of the exercises the therapist I saw in my late teens had me do was precisely this:

The next time you are out walking in a public place, try this: Look directly into the eyes of each person you pass. You don’t have to stare. Just make brief eye contact. Then look down at the ground as you walk past. Repeat this a few times. Next, try looking at people, then looking away—not down, just away. Keep your eyes on the same level and look at something else. I don’t care what; use your imagination. There’s a lot out there to see. . . .Looking at someone and then looking down, they say, makes them feel “bad,” “embarrassed,” “weak,” “small.” Looking away, in contrast, is empowering. It’s a very simple thing to do, but it makes you feel strong. It makes you feel confident.


I was unaware of this writer and now I'm not! Thanks!
posted by crush-onastick at 4:14 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


That's from the article! It's almost like you didn't read it!

Hi I read the article and I've been nailed in the groin plenty of times in my life (mostly because of dogs and children, in case you were wondering). It's true that a solid kick to the crotchal region can be debilitatingly painful. It's also true that an imperfectly landed blow is probably not going to stop or slow down a determined attacker at all. So y'know I don't want to discourage anyone from murderin' balls or anything but it's not a silver bullet. My Panzer Kunst* teacher told me abandon squeamishness and go for the eyeballs if you're in a life or death fight, FWIW.

*yeah ok fine it was a strip mall kempo studio
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:17 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


If you can land it, it will likely be effective. But you may miss, or the person may move, or turn, or block you, or they might even be wearing a cup. So, it's a good technique to know for sure, but a fight is a dynamic situation and things don't always go as planned. It's best to know how to do more than one thing.
posted by delicious-luncheon at 4:22 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


My mother always told me that in a fight I should go for the groin, or possibly try to gouge out my attacker's eyes with my keys. It wasn't until I was grow that I realized that she was teaching her sons women's self defence, and why not?

That's my purse!!

I don't know yew.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:33 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


You know, after that nonsense about Time magazine including "feminism" on their vote-to-ban-this-word list and the 4chan/Gamergate/MRA bloc instantly voting it straight to the top, I kind of needed this.

Oh brother, I'd like to kick Time magazine in the nuts, but I settled for writing them a strongly worded letter about how fucked up that is.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:35 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jezebel: The solution to violence is more violence.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Technique effectiveness aside, though, I think the real take away is that women (or anybody really) should not be ashamed to be familiar with this or to use it when necessary.
posted by delicious-luncheon at 4:40 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jezebel: The solution to violence is more violence.

Usually, yes.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:45 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Or running away. That one's better, if you can swing it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:45 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I chortled way too much while reading that article. My self-conception as a fairly pacifist type person whose first solution to bad situations is to try to talk it into a better situation has taken a fairly profound beating (heh). I did not know I had such a hidden motherlode of schadenfreude.

Bookmarks for later perusal of the other links, and possibly falling a little bit in unrequited crush on Susan Schorn.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:46 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jezebel: The solution to violence is more violence.
posted by charlie don't surf 5 minutes ago [+]


Sucker-punching dudes out of the blue (or sucker-kicking) is 'violent.' Employing a self-defense strategy in the face of violence that gives you a rare physical advantage over a guy much bigger and stronger than you -- that's just common sense. You might as well tack on the #meninism hashtag if you're going to be calling it "violence."
posted by mudpuppie at 4:49 PM on November 12, 2014 [38 favorites]


Itaxpica: The first thing I ever learned in Krav Maga was how to most effectively knee an assailant in the groin; it's basically the cornerstone of the entire martial art. Years later, I can still hear my instructor yelling, in his thick Israeli accent, "KNEE TO THE BALLS! KNEE TO THE BALLS!"

That's what I've always admired about Krav Maga as a martial art: neutralize the threat & escape is the only concern. No belts, no uniforms, no kids birthday parties, no spooky mystical nonsense, no rules, etc; just straight up overwhelming force and get the hell out.
posted by dr_dank at 4:49 PM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


There is always value is going for vital points of all kinds, although someone who knows what they are doing is going to be more prepared to defend these. I have no idea how well-trained most "assailants" are (I expect it runs the gamut), but even a dude with no training is going to protect his nuts, for all the reasons outlined in the article.

That doesn't mean that these are useless techniques, but I think she should have pointed this out. She could have also mentioned some other nasty things you can do with a dude's balls that all start with grabbing them. While she's on the topic and everything.

I think she's totally right about it as a legitimate self-defense technique. This is as true for men as women. If someone is attacking me and I can't get away, then the rules are already out the window, and I'm going to fight mean and hard to make sure that something horrible doesn't happen to me. If I'm find myself squaring off to fight "honorably" over some perceived insult, then I'm a moron who is heading towards time in prison and/or a hospital.

She's sounds a bit mean-spirited where men are concerned, but I guess that's her shtick, as well as part of the territory (no pun intended).

Jezebel: The solution to violence is more violence.

More like: A solution to violence is self-defense. That's just a sign of self-respect, male or female.
posted by Edgewise at 4:54 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was playing touch football once, and on kickoff the ball bounced up and hit me in the nuts. Stephen King described the sensation (and I'm quoting roughly) as feeling like you're going to blow lunch and shit your pants simultaneously, which was accurate. Sounds like effective incapacitation to me.
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've seen a two-year-old take a grown man down via the groin. We thought he was putting it on though - diving like a very expensive footballer.

On the other hand in my youth I have been in a tight situation with an aggressor and a punch to the balls did. not. work. Most disappointingly. It was like that situation where wielding a weapon is just a way of making sure your attacker can get hold of extra. Extra in this case being the angry.
posted by glasseyes at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or running away. That one's better, if you can swing it.

Y'know, if you RTFA, you will see the writer stress a couple times that the whole point of going for the ball kick is "he is out of commission for a long enough time that you can immediately run the fuck away and be quite a comfortable distance away by the time he recovers". It's a self-defense tactic, they're not teaching women to kick guys in the balls and then stand over them giving a bloody Tarzan Yell or anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:03 PM on November 12, 2014 [27 favorites]


they're not teaching women to kick guys in the balls and then stand over them giving a bloody Tarzan Yell or anything.

It would make the cat-calling videos a lot different...
posted by madajb at 5:06 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Groin kicks were a cornerstone of my karate training-one of the most basic kicks, the snapkick, is a groin kick, and all of my katas featured that strike.

On the other hand, my practical self defense instructors were a little skeptical, saying it wasn't that easy to land in a way to do damage. They preferred a quick punch to the solar plexus.
posted by happyroach at 5:07 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh hey they have a theme song
posted by rustcrumb at 5:10 PM on November 12, 2014


Oh I must link to this from this FPP (by my partner).

Hooray for ball posts!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:12 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


There are thousands of videos of unstaged street fights on the tubes. Not rehearsed classroom exercises. Almost none are won with a kick to the groin. The problems with a kick to the groin are that it is guarded by very large muscle groups, testicles aren't always exactly where you think they are, the protective response is reflexive and if you miss you are on one foot and close to your attacker.

Fighting is just a fighting issue. It's just tactics. I find bad advice troubling because it is more likely to result in the potential victim being hurt.
posted by vapidave at 5:19 PM on November 12, 2014 [12 favorites]


I will admit that multiple excitable dogs, a couple of assholish cats, and many, many children swinging their arms around at groin level have all taken me out at one time or another by accident (well, maybe not from the cats) - There wasn't a time where I was like "You cannot defeat my balls of steel!" In general, it was more of "*Coooough* hrrrrrrrr hrrrrrr hrrrrrr fuuuuuuuu hrrr hrrrr owwwwww" with me slightly doubled over at best, or the silence of someone who has forgotten to breathe while I lay on the ground and wish for a quick death at worst.

If you are looking for a point to strike on a man, this will almost always be a good bet - As an added bonus, we've been conditioned to not expected it through both professional training, as well as whatever fucked up honor code more casual fights between men seem to have. Sure, there are times it won't work, but odds are really in favor of it hurting in a very very special way.

I think this is a good strategy -- I've always advocated the groin, eyeballs, and throat as the points to attack in a self-defense scenario - Go with what's open, but if in doubt, that's probably the correct order of operations.
posted by MysticMCJ at 5:21 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


All this being said, there really is no substitute for a GOOD self-defense class. You can read theory all you want, but that isn't going to help you actually pull off any sort of groin strike... A good class will drill you on scenarios in a way that will start honing instincts. You don't want to think "Oh, I'm supposed to punch this dude in the dick," you want to actually be able to do it rapidly.
posted by MysticMCJ at 5:26 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


That King of the Hill episode always bugged me because I didn't really get the big deal about it being off limits. I dunno, I tended to figure that if someone broke the social contract by inflicting pain upon you, that you were under no obligations to, y'know, not be effective upon replying. Not that "kick in the junk" is necessarily always the first line of defense but... y'know, assuming it's not a boxing match or something, fighting itself seems like "fighting dirty" anyway, so... fuck it. BOOT TO THE DICK.


(DISCLAIMER: I have never kicked anyone in the dick.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 5:35 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Echoing vapiddave that while a shot to the nuts that connects is pretty much game over, guys spend a lot more time trying to defend against things hitting them there than most people practice hitting it. YouTube's ubiquitous ball blows can promote confirmation bias
posted by klangklangston at 5:36 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


All this being said, there really is no substitute for a GOOD self-defense class.

Knife missile. But I suppose the knife missile has had pretty solid training.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:37 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Fighting is just a fighting issue. It's just tactics. I find bad advice troubling because it is more likely to result in the potential victim being hurt.

The solution to violence is nonviolence, and this does not exclude self-defense. But what really troubles me about this article is the tone. It reminds me of gun nuts who write about shooting guns but what they obviously want is an excuse to shoot and kill someone.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:51 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I only knew of Schorn from her other life as a Writing Across the Curriculum and composition specialist (she's often defending the interests of non-tenure track and adjunct workers on a major listserv in the profession), so this is a surprising but nice find.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:51 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am a touch disappointed that she didn't cover the grab-squeeze-and-yank tactic, but given the MMA framing, I suppose I understand. (Susan - or Senpai George, as we all call her - was one of my karate/self defense instructors, and I assure you she's familiar with the technique. Suuuper weird to see her featured here at my day job!)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:57 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


the protective response is reflexive

This. I've never been a fighter or studied martial arts or whatever, but in college my girlfriend took a self defense class and I let her practice on me. She wasn't going 100 percent, but it was still trivially easy to protect my nuts just out of reflex. Eyes were a lot harder to defend and once I was occupied protecting them it was harder to protect my balls at the same time. But as long as I was willing to accept some bruises and scrapes, just by being larger and stronger I could pretty easily wrestle her down without exposing myself at all. Again, she wasn't going full-bore or trying to hurt me for real, but she was fit and strong and it was still striking how unbalanced things were.

The nut attack a great thing to use if you have the chance, but I'm not so sure that it's such an easy option as she makes it sound. Maybe with the kind of training she does it becomes an effective option, just like in the MMA videos. Someone made a comparison to people who talk about guns, and there is a bit of that -- emphasizing the effectiveness but eliding the amount of training you would need to do in order to actually be that effective.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:59 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


The solution to violence is nonviolence, and this does not exclude self-defense.

Honest question, because I think I'm statistically more likely to find myself in an assaultive situation than you are, especially if we're talking sexual assault: What "nonviolent" tactic (and I assume we're talking the Ghandi kind of nonviolence, not just an-action-that-isn't-violent) will protect me when facing a guy who wants to sexually assault me? Seriously -- that is a serious question. Because that effective nonviolent solution is a strategy I would very much like to have in my back pocket, and I'm kind of pissed that no one has told me about it in my 40+ years.

But what really troubles me about this article is the tone. It reminds me of gun nuts who write about shooting guns but what they obviously want is an excuse to shoot and kill someone.

You do realize her tongue was firmly in her cheek, don't you? And that's one major difference between her and your average published gun nut?
posted by mudpuppie at 6:01 PM on November 12, 2014 [21 favorites]


There's the old argument -- which pain is worse. Giving birth or getting kicked in the balls.

To me, there's no argument. You can find many women who, a year or so after giving birth, are eager to have a baby.
posted by eriko at 6:13 PM on November 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


There's a difference between a fight and being assaulted. Particuarly being sexually assaulted. For one, the rapist is actively wanting to use his dick so 'protecting it' isn't ranking as high as it would be if he were just, say, stealing my wallet or punching me for looking at him funny. I know the desire to gender neutralise everything can be strong but this is specifically about women defending themselves from men and specifically mentions rape and sexual assault, so 'in a fight I do X' is not as relevant as you might think.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:53 PM on November 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Honest question, because I think I'm statistically more likely to find myself in an assaultive situation than you are, especially if we're talking sexual assault: What "nonviolent" tactic (and I assume we're talking the Ghandi kind of nonviolence, not just an-action-that-isn't-violent) will protect me when facing a guy who wants to sexually assault me?

Run away. Do not let someone isolate you. Don't even get into a situation where you could be isolated. Yes I am serious. I actually wrote up a bit about this and then deleted it from my previous post, but since you asked..

Even if someone is pointing a gun at you, point blank, you always run. Even a martial artist who is trained in disarming someone, has a better chance of success by running. I once watched a self-defense training video from a guy who was a martial arts expert, he researched police statistics on armed assaults. He said that when the victim ran, the odds that the criminal would shoot were about 50%. Since the criminal is full of adrenaline, his hand is shaking and the odds of a shot hitting you are about 20%. The odds of a hit being fatal are about 20%. BUT if the criminal manages to isolate you, to get you into a car or an enclosed room, the odds of violence are almost 100%.

You do realize her tongue was firmly in her cheek, don't you? And that's one major difference between her and your average published gun nut?

Yes, I was aware of that. Slaptstick comedy is still violence. You can't fight fire with fire.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


eriko said exactly what I was going to.

That being said, the only Life Or Death fight I was ever in ended (mercifully for both of us) when I had him pinned on his back, and realized I was up, exposed, and he could have taken a groin shot if he had any fight left in him.

You're not really going to get a good chance at a ball shot if you're both vertical and the attacker is advancing on you. Best bet, if you have the space, is to sidestep them, let their momentum pass them by you, then run screaming like holy hell. Hopefully those couple seconds you buy yourself will be enough.
posted by Cyrano at 7:13 PM on November 12, 2014


Slapstick comedy is still violence.

Why, I oughta ...
posted by octobersurprise at 7:21 PM on November 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Don't even get into a situation where you could be isolated.

Women are most likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know. So we shouldn't stay home, because we might be isolated with someone likely to assault us. We shouldn't go out, because we could be manipulated or forced into being isolated, or drugged - by someone we know - and then isolated.

(Earlier this year or late last year, there was a guy in my neighborhood who literally hit women who walked by over the head and then dragged them into alleys to assault them, because they had I guess the poor judgement to be walking from BART to work or from home to BART early in the morning, when not many people were out and it was dark. At least one of them got away because...she fought back.)

We should lie back and think of England, I guess, since our imaginations are the only place we can go where we could possibly follow this advice, which reads as if you have never actually met people.
posted by rtha at 7:23 PM on November 12, 2014 [56 favorites]


Run away. Do not let someone isolate you. Don't even get into a situation where you could be isolated.

You're aware that the vast majority of sexual assaults and murders of women occur in domestic and dating situations, right? Just run! Never go anywhere alone! Never be alone with anyone! Sure, that'll solve everything.

Have you ever tried to "run away" while being violently physically restrained by a person twice your size and strength? I have, and I'm philosophically as pacifist as the next person, but you don't get to lecture me or anybody else about how I'm responsible for "solving violence" at a moment when someone is in the process of doing me great bodily harm or how preventing myself from being killed makes me the aggressor or how my TONE is too SHRILL and NAGGING and MEAN and AGGRESSIVE to poor widdle sensitive rapist-murderers. If someone wants to practice passive resistance or active non-violence at that moment either as a moral gesture or because they think it's their best means of survival, that's their choice. And if they want to bite and scratch and kick and gouge and punch and stomp and smash somebody's windpipe with all their strength, then Gandhi can just shut up and deal with it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:31 PM on November 12, 2014 [33 favorites]


I don't think the "run away" contingent is dismissing the horror, fear and panic of a sexual assault. I can't even imagine it.

I'll wager that's the weapon someone who would sexually assult someone counts on more than their size or strengh advantage.

"Keep yourself alive" is the primary thing in any assault. If that means a groin kick and you can take it, by all means do.
posted by Cyrano at 7:41 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've always enjoyed Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality demonstrating her character's S.I.N.G. technique for self defense. Don't know if it will actually work but I found the elbowing and instep-smashing intriguing.
posted by emjaybee at 7:43 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course it's ridiculous to say that people never suggest hits to the balls, but insisting that you are saying something that NO ONE DARES SAY is pretty much how the internet works, so nu.

More important, this is bad self-defense advice. Most women's self-defense instructors rightly note that starting with a kick to the balls is unlikely to work, because most men have pretty well-honed "protect the balls" reflexes. Rather, you're supposed to kick the knee, poke the eyes, *then* hit the balls.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:47 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Have you ever tried to "run away" while being violently physically restrained by a person twice your size and strength? I have, and I'm philosophically as pacifist as the next person..

No you aren't. And I'm a buddhist and pacifist and sworn to die rather than commit violence, even in self defense, or in your defense. Yes, that philosophy has been put to the test, yes, I was murderously assaulted by someone twice my size and strength. I escaped.

but you don't get to lecture me or anybody else

But you get to?

Violence is everyone's problem. You won't solve it, even for yourself, by becoming invincible. Schorn won't solve it by mockery either.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:51 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


You can't fight fire with fire.

Balls.
posted by flabdablet at 8:00 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Run away. Do not let someone isolate you. Don't even get into a situation where you could be isolated. Yes I am serious. I actually wrote up a bit about this and then deleted it from my previous post, but since you asked..

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, because I think you mean well. But. There is literally no way I can go through my daily life without encountering a situation where I could be isolated. I could be isolated in the copy room at work. In a brightly lit parking lot. Taking the trash out to the dumpster. Walking to the mailbox. Any of those totally normal situations are situations where I could potentially be isolated, depending on who else just happens to be around at that very minute.

I think a lot of people -- mostly men, but not exclusively -- think that dangerous places are necessarily dimly lit and out of sight. That is just categorically untrue. As others mention above, sometimes the most dangerous places are those occupied by people we know. This idea that there are neatly defined dangerous and isolated places is a myth, and it's a myth that contributes to victim-blaming and victim-shaming.

And yes, kicking a dude in the balls might not be the #1 safest/most effective option in any given scenario. But if I'm put in the position of having to fight someone off, and I have a one second to make a decision, and in that one second going for the balls seems like the best option, it will have been helpful for me to have read an article about how to go for the balls.

The linked article wasn't this big feminist to-do list or anything. It's really just useful information to have if you're a woman, in the world, who might happen to stumble into a hypothetical "situation where you could be isolated," when that hypothetical pretty much applies to any situation you get into, ever, 24/7.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:03 PM on November 12, 2014 [25 favorites]


Violence is everyone's problem. You won't solve it, even for yourself,

Nice handwave.

If I am violently assaulted and I cannot run away (at first), my job is not to "solve violence" - my job is to live, even if that means giving someone like you the vapors by throwing the kick or punch that enables me to run away. I won't lose sleep over it.

You might consider sometime that the hostility with which you approach some topics, and the sneering contempt you employ when dismissing what you think is dismissable, is not reducing violence or anger in these exchanges. I fail in my part because I do not simply walk away - and neither do you.
posted by rtha at 8:05 PM on November 12, 2014 [36 favorites]


So because you're a buddhist it would be right for me to die?

How about if I'm asleep when I'm attacked - should I still just lay back lest I hurt my rapist when I struggle to leave? My kid doesn't need her mama alive, or sane, or whole, afterall, not when there are principles about violence.

I mean, it's really fucking cute how you think rape only takes place in isolated spaces, and by strangers you can avoid. That's lovely. Shows a huge amount of compassion and understanding.

Quite frankly, the more women primed to kick a guy in the balls, even if he's your brother or your father or your uncle or your friend or your husband, the better really. Because the shut down defense gets you through the rape, it's not so great in the aftermath. You cannot in any way pretend this is not gendered.

Once you've been murderously assaulted. Once. Most women have been sexually assaulted and a huge percentage have been raped - your experience doesn't actually copy over to that of women because you are not acting within the same constraints of a culture that expects you to shoulder the blame for what a rapist chooses.

And again, seriously, when a man comes at you to rape you it is hella different to being in a fight. Really really different.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:13 PM on November 12, 2014 [24 favorites]


I'm philosophically as pacifist as the next person..

No you aren't.


Well, since you probably aren't going to fight over this one, how about a nice game of paper scissors rock? Or maybe a pie-eating contest?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:15 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


but you don't get to lecture me or anybody else

But you get to?


Nice selective quoting. What I said was, "you don't get to lecture me or anybody else about how I'm responsible for 'solving violence' at a moment when someone is in the process of doing me great bodily harm," and no, I also don't get to do that. I.e., I don't get to tell you how you're "supposed" to respond when somebody is trying to rape or kill you, and I don't get to tell you after the fact that your response was "correct" or "incorrect" or likely/unlikely to perpetuate violence.

And I don't personally know any Buddhists that go around judging the motes of violence contained in rape survivors' self-defense methods; most of the ones hereabouts seem to focus more on figuring out their own paths.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:26 PM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


You might consider sometime that the hostility with which you approach some topics, and the sneering contempt you employ when dismissing what you think is dismissable, is not reducing violence or anger in these exchanges. I fail in my part because I do not simply walk away - and neither do you.

I am not your enemy. I am not the enemy of any of the people who are arguing with me in this thread. We may disagree on the means, but not the ends.

Once you've been murderously assaulted. Once. Most women have been sexually assaulted and a huge percentage have been raped - your experience doesn't actually copy over to that of women because you are not acting within the same constraints of a culture that expects you to shoulder the blame for what a rapist chooses.

We are both subject to the same cultural conditions. I lived near Skid Row in LA and was assaulted several times. It was a constant risk. A friend and I once happened to be at the corner of 4th and Wall at 2AM, the worst spot in Skid Row, at the worst possible time, dressed up and leaving a loft party. We were suddenly surrounded by several thugs with knives, demanding our money. We ran, just as an LAPD cruiser rushed to the corner, seeing the pandemonium. The LAPD officer blamed us for inciting trouble and threatened to arrest us. But this was before I converted to buddhism. I have never been in a single violent situation since that time.

Violence affects everyone, and I do not expect you to behave in accord with religious vows of nonviolence that I hold, but you do not. If you want to knee some guy in the groin to escape, go right ahead. But my buddhist sect believes that if you carry a weapon, it will be your karma to get into a situation where you will use it. If you believe that violence can protect you, you just may find out. Paranoia will destroy ya. Consider that is a religious belief, rather than framing it as a gender-polarized opinion. The Jezebel article comes from a place of violence and paranoia, it even creates divisions between people who want the same thing: an end to violence. That is how you make people powerless, you divide them against one another.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:54 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


There wasn't a time where I was like "You cannot defeat my balls of steel!"

Balls of steel.

More balls of steel.
posted by fivebells at 9:01 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


jsnlxndrlv: "This response (almost universally from men) is so common I've come to think of it as "groinsplaining"—you can see it many of the YouTube comments in the videos linked above."

Perhaps I'm just a mutant or something, and I'm by no means willing to try out the experiments required to verify the following, but in my own anecdotal experience, getting pegged in the balls, doesn't hurt immediately any more than other places. Rather, there's delayed a onset of crippling pain, a Wily Coyote moment where your balls have not yet figured out they've walked off a metaphorical cliff. But when they do, it's as they're trying to crawl back up the inguinal canal and pretend the event never transpired.

Which means there's a window for retaliation, unfortunately. A fleet moment during which you realize your impending fate, and maybe have sufficient time to execute brief revenge. Or more wisely, find a comfortable position before the onset of debilitating pain. So hopefully the citation is correct that there's no affect to risk additional injury, but I can see why a swift kick to the balls might not negatively affect the risk.
posted by pwnguin at 9:09 PM on November 12, 2014


It reminds me of gun nuts who write about shooting guns but what they obviously want is an excuse to shoot and kill someone.

Yeah, I can't believe Jezebel would write an article like this when there's a growing epidemic of innocent men getting ball-kicked around the country. Not to mention those mass school ball-kickings.

Consider that is a religious belief, rather than framing it as a gender-polarized opinion.

Ah yes, religious fundamentalism solves everything.
posted by kmz at 9:10 PM on November 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


Being shamed with Buddhism(???) for talking about female self-defense tactics vis a vis rape... now that's some vintage internet.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:13 PM on November 12, 2014 [41 favorites]


BUT if the criminal manages to isolate you, to get you into a car or an enclosed room, the odds of violence are almost 100%.

"Never go to the second crime scene. The second crime scene is where the really bad stuff happens," is how my self defense instructors put it.

So yeah, if someone pulls a gun or knife on you, run away. Don't let the threat of them using it persuade you into going where they want you to go.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:24 PM on November 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Violence affects everyone, and I do not expect you to behave in accord with religious vows of nonviolence that I hold, but you do not. If you want to knee some guy in the groin to escape, go right ahead. But my buddhist sect believes that if you carry a weapon, it will be your karma to get into a situation where you will use it.

A dick is a weapon, which is what rape is, so where does that leave karma? Same with a knee, same with a fist, none of which a person can put down. Hyperbolic, sure, but its something of a scar rape has left me with. Just like abuse - hands can heal, they can hurt. Dicks can make babies and great sex, and they can be used to horribly injure someone in rape. Your view point - about weapons, about karma, about violence and rape - is flawed here, and not helpful. It is not paranoia to understand that my risk of rape is higher than yours, and that rape is a very different kind of assault to 'normal' fighting.

I mean seriously, I've been in both situations, they're really different. The approach is different, the stances, the expected outcomes and the desired outcomes. I don't get why this is so hard to understand - going into a 'fight' you protect your groin because it's a weak point. Going in to rape, you're using your groin as a weapon so it's not getting the same sort of treatment because at some point you are going to make yourself really vulnerable and get it out of your pants..

And there is no way in hell we are actually subject to the same cultural conditions unless you're planning on telling me why rape culture isn't a thing.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:32 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've been kicked in the balls during a fight. I wrote it off, ignored the pain and kept going; it just made me mad. Understand, I'm the epitome of pacifism: never have started a fight, actively tried to avoid them, always, very little formal martial training after high school wrestling and years of working as a bar bouncer.

What I worry about is this cutesy attitude about what could be a very serious injury. Guy cuts you off at the supermarket? balls. Guy accidentally elbows you at a concert. Balls, twice. If a man puts his hands on a woman? Ladies, let him have it and say it's from me. But the mindset that 'oh, he musta deserved it, look how funny', I don't like it. I'll be curious to see how this plays out.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 9:45 PM on November 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


prize bull octorok: *yeah ok fine it was a strip mall kempo studio
That is fine because just referencing Panzer Kunst wins you every favorite from me ever.

posted by rifflesby at 9:58 PM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


My preschooler son has definitely given me pause with hits that happened to land on my balls; a well-practiced shot to the balls by an adult would undoubtedly be serious. Be aware that the effect is delayed. The eyes and the solar plexus seem to respond much faster to pain. This suggests a fruitful combination- using an eye or solar plexus attack for a quick pain reaction, followed by a groin attack for lasting pain. But as a non-martial-artist I don't really know what I'm talking about.
posted by Jpfed at 10:55 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


What I worry about is this cutesy attitude about what could be a very serious injury. Guy cuts you off at the supermarket? balls. Guy accidentally elbows you at a concert. Balls, twice. If a man puts his hands on a woman? Ladies, let him have it and say it's from me. But the mindset that 'oh, he musta deserved it, look how funny', I don't like it. I'll be curious to see how this plays out.

Yeah, let's start being concerned about that when there is the slightest hint it is actually happenning. Or at least let's keep this concern in proportion with the other kinds of violence that are definitely happening right now, and can be blamed on attitudes that are actually so dominant as to become invisible.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:31 PM on November 12, 2014 [19 favorites]


...Because the people who invented karate, judo, jiu jitsu, kendo, kung fu/ wushu, taekwondo or muay thai have never been buddhists.

I only did aikido, but since posh aikido dojos are supposed to have a kamidana I'll give that one to shinto
posted by sukeban at 11:43 PM on November 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


What I worry about is this cutesy attitude about what could be a very serious injury. Guy cuts you off at the supermarket? balls. Guy accidentally elbows you at a concert. Balls, twice.

Presenting the first fucking point in the first fucking article, quoted here:
Step One: Have a good reason for kicking the guy in the balls.
Maybe if you RTFA it would satisfy part of your "curiosity to see how it turns out".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 AM on November 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Run away. Do not let someone isolate you. Don't even get into a situation where you could be isolated. Yes I am serious. I actually wrote up a bit about this and then deleted it from my previous post, but since you asked..

I don't mean to be rude, but this is straightforwardly stupid. It is impossible for a woman to go through a normal working and social life without being isolated with men, and anyone who has had female friends or family, or has read even a few comments here, knows this.

Just in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to at least twice meet with a woman alone in my office, possibly after hours when the building is empty. Usually about once a month, sometimes more often, I go out to the field with a woman, which means being miles and miles out of cell service down some road which is barely accessible by a high clearance four wheel drive. Happily for everyone I'm not gross or violent, but the women don't have any way to know that for sure, and yet have to be alone with me as part of their job.

I don't give a crap about whatever personal religious motivations people have, but I do find willfully wrong comments like the above to be kind of offensive. People here (and in the FPP!) are explaining politely and repeatedly how their world works; to respond with the dumbest form of mansplaining ever is rudeness, pure and simple.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:00 AM on November 13, 2014 [16 favorites]


i've had occasion to knee a couple dudes in the nuts and i gotta say, it wasn't that difficult and it was super effective. i think what some of the guys in this thread are missing is that when a woman is being sexually assaulted by a man, the man doesn't see the woman as threat - that's why she was chosen to be the victim. being underestimated is a good way to gain the upper hand.
posted by nadawi at 6:06 AM on November 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


I've also taken krav, and we were taught that in a fighting situation, the balls are too high up to kick (risking you your balance) and easy to defend.

However, a kick or slap or headbutt to the balls likely works in non street-fight conditions precisely because the man is not in fight/defense mode and is not expecting it from the intended victim or kid or dog. Just as nadawi said above, on preview.
posted by nicodine at 6:11 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


yeah personally i'm more in favor of the knee over the kick because it leaves the ball smasher less off balance and better able to aim (and then run). it's a move that requires being let into someone's personal space, but this obstacle is overcome by the attacker forcefully putting himself in his victim's personal space.
posted by nadawi at 6:16 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, if you're planning on using this as a self defense tactic then get a friend with balls to stand in front of you. And then slowly raise your leg doing a slow imitation of a kick in the balls and see if it'll connect where you expect it to. It probably won't as you'll be standing too far or too close for a direct shot. This will be a problem in an actual fight situation and can lead to the attacker grabbing your leg and throwing you off balance. A knee to the balls is much more effective but has a lot less range.
posted by I-baLL at 6:21 AM on November 13, 2014




sorry, charlie don't surf, you're entitled to your personal beliefs but you're just wrong that buddhism doesn't allow self-defense.
The prohibition for monastics is against hitting when one is “angry or displeased,” meaning that when these states are absent, hitting is permitted. The monastic however, is limited to doing so with only their hands or fists since monks and nuns cannot possess weapons.

The canonical explanation of this rule explicitly allows a monastic to hit a person (or animal) in self-defense if they are not angry or displeased. More precisely, the commentary allows such self-defensive hits for the purposes of escaping danger. Monastics are thus not expected or encouraged to stand their ground when under attack. This would perhaps require a greater amount of violence than what is needed to escape danger. [source]
The Dalai Lama, head of Vajrayana Buddhism is quoted as saying, "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. " (Seattle Times, May 15, 2001) [source]
posted by desjardins at 6:55 AM on November 13, 2014 [16 favorites]


If you had me guess which religion would be used to scold women for generally Doing Life Wrong in this thread, I would not have guessed correctly.
posted by almostmanda at 7:49 AM on November 13, 2014 [25 favorites]


Schorn won't solve it by mockery either.

She isn't trying to solve violence. She's trying to reduce harm.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:56 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]




The knee is the most likely kick to be used in a self defense situation, the most stable and quickest of all kicks. As many people have mentioned, defending the testicles is a basic reflex reaction honed by thousands of years of survival. If you want to attack this area your best bet is to distract attention away from the area. As discussed above, chances are that your attacker may be distracting himself by sexually assaulting you, but if not it is best if he can't see the attack coming so the flinch reaction doesn't occur. Go for the eyes first, just cover them if you don't want to get eye goo on your fingers.

If you do land the strike effectively and get a good reaction to it then chances are that the head will drop to a level where it can be kneed or kicked, so that's a bonus. There is also a good chance that there will be no immediate reaction at all, due to adrenaline, insignificant pain stimulus or delayed shock, so it is not a panacea. There is no one strike that works universally, people are all different. Do a lot of things quickly and there is more likelihood that something will work.

I believe groin attacks also work on women (correct me if I am wrong), so this is an equal opportunities technique.

The main problem for self defense is over coming the innate reluctance to do harm to other people. One technique is to train yourself to strike on a verbal queue, so that you can force yourself into a mental condition where violence is possible by saying a phrase, not necessarily out loud.

The following deals with training soldiers to kill, but it gives us some insight into the issue.
...the evidence shows that the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be “conscientious objectors".
Since World War II, a new era has quietly dawned in modern warfare: an era of psychological warfare, conducted not upon the enemy, but upon one’s own troops. The triad of methods used to enable men to overcome their innate resistance to killing includes desensitization, classical and operant conditioning, and denial defense mechanisms.
posted by asok at 9:03 AM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This seems to be overthinking a plate of franks n' beans. A swift kick to the balls is worth a try if you see a good opening for it; it's not some kind of magic "off switch" for bad guys, on the other hand. The particular nerve cluster you're aiming for is a bit like the funny-bone, it's easy to land a good, solid blow to the general area without actually triggering that particular response, while it's also possible to get debilitating pain from what seems like trivial contact (dogs and babies etc). So by all means kick your attacker in the balls, but be aware that there's a fairly small probability that this will be an incapacitating blow.
posted by yoink at 9:39 AM on November 13, 2014


But this was before I converted to buddhism. I have never been in a single violent situation since that time.
charlie don't surf

Wait a second.

You said above:

Yes, that philosophy has been put to the test, yes, I was murderously assaulted by someone twice my size and strength. I escaped.

But here you're saying that you have not been in a violent situation since your conversion. Which is it? You yourself are saying you haven't been in a violent situation since your embrace of your philosophy, so how could it have been "put to the test"?

In your pre-conversion story of assault, you were lucky. You were confronted on a public street where you had a chance to run, and the police happened to come by. As many above have said, this is very often not the situation many women face.

It's good that you had a chance when confronted with violence to escape, but it comes across as extremely smug and judgmental to then proclaim that this will always be an option. It implies that those who don't, or who find themselves in situations where they can't, have brought what harm comes to them on themselves.

I think it's easy for you or me as guys to make these grand moral proclamations because we don't face the sort of risks women do. My fiancee was once in a cab coming home from work one night when the cabbie started making all sorts of sexual comments to her. Luckily for her he stopped where she had wanted, but if he had decided to harm her there was very little she could have done, and nowhere to run. It kind of disgusts me that someone would smugly tell her, had she been assaulted, "Well you just shouldn't have been somewhere where you couldn't have escaped".
posted by Sangermaine at 9:53 AM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


> If you had me guess which religion would be used to scold women for generally Doing Life Wrong in this thread, I would not have guessed correctly.

I guess this is a thing now. Almost the identical thing is happening in another thread, which I think of as "I'm above all earthly attachments so you have no right to get pissed when someone acts like an idiot.". I was very surprised when the Brogrammers showed up among the Programmers; I guess we're seeing the rise of the Zen Broddhist?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Above I listed my preferred strategy and I've been in more fights than most here on metafilter and likely more than the author of the article. What is important is that you have a strategy. A bad strategy is more useful than no strategy. Getting assaulted can be a paralyzing experience. I've stood there and fallen from blows [it's a distinct sound, getting punched in the head] and gotten the shit beat and kicked out of me because I didn't know what to do. I should have punched, kicked, ran, screamed, had a gun, a knife etc.

But there are better and worse strategies. A kick to the testicles is not a good initial strategy.

"All I can say is, I've seen two-year-olds take down grown men via the groin, and toddlers don't even have any training. I do. I like my odds."

I don't know what world the author lives in that two-year olds are fighting off assailants.

"That's from the article! It's almost like you didn't read it!"

I read it. Some of it is good, some not so much.

The odd thing, the conundrum, of being a victim of violence is that there is usually a pre-assault phase where the attacker asseses your ability to respond to the threat and you don't know to be agressive in your own defense or agressive as in flee. The pre-assault phase is where you are panicked and paralyzed so this is where you need a plan.

I am all in favor of having a plan. I am much more in favor of having a plan that is likely to have positive results.
posted by vapidave at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Violence is everyone's problem. I don't think it's a handwave; I think it refers to the culture of violence and especially the culture of violence against women (and children). There was just another school shooting, and I can't help but think that school shooting is proliferating in the US because of the media attention. People get in to open carry, taking serious weapons into stores and elsewhere. There's broad acceptance of the fact that blacks are routinely killed by police. There's broad acceptance and promotion of all sorts of violence in the US. There are an awful lot of people here who believe "might makes right." There are many countries where violence is an awful lot lower. So, I can understand that as a world view, and still encourage women to use every means possible to defend themselves against anybody who physically threatens them. The long term answer is the change the culture. The short term answer is to kick him in the nuts, poke out his eyes, stomp on his instep, or anything else you can do. Some women carry guns because they realize they aren't going to be able to fight back effectively. That opens a whole other discussion, probably a derail here.

I know some genuine pacifists. They would disagree about having 1 worldview and a different daily view. I find that this is one of many areas of ambivalence that I can easily live with.
posted by theora55 at 10:52 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't know what world the author lives in that two-year olds are fighting off assailants.

Toddler runs to you. Head hits groin. Down goes Daddy. Happened to me a lot. Obviously toddler isn't fighting off an assailant. They happen to hit at the right angle.
posted by qi at 10:55 AM on November 13, 2014


I guess we're seeing the rise of the Zen Broddhist?

If this is a thing, it's probably due "atheist" developing negative connotations in the past 10 years from exactly those same people abusing it for exactly the same reasons.
posted by almostmanda at 10:57 AM on November 13, 2014


there is a difference between fights and being a target of sexualized violence. some things are the same, but some things are different. what might be a bad strategy in a fight between men could very well be a good strategy as a defense against sexual assault.
posted by nadawi at 11:04 AM on November 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


"groinsplaining" huh, huh
posted by judson at 11:05 AM on November 13, 2014


there is a difference between fights and being a target of sexualized violence. some things are the same, but some things are different. what might be a bad strategy in a fight between men could very well be a good strategy as a defense against sexual assault.

Exactly. I'm not taking any position on whether the specific tactic of ball-kneeing is helpful or unhelpful, but what we are talking about here is not fighting, not reacting to someone pointing a weapon at you from a distance, not responding to someone pursuing or menacing you without touching you. Schorn is specifically talking about situations in which you are being physically held, battered, pinned, choked, held down, prevented from moving, etc. by someone in bodily contact with you who has overpowered you or is attempting to do so. And the only real objective is to GET FREE of the restraint so that you can flee and, if possible, briefly immobilize the attacker so you get a head start. I can't for the life of me think how you can accomplish that non-violently.

In one very "mild" situation, a guy grabbed me by the wrist and tried to drag me through a doorway into a "second crime scene." In order to get away, I planted my feet, violently threw my weight backward, twisted and wrenched the living fuck out of both our arms, and in the process, slammed the guy's arm/hand against the doorframe. And I either pulled loose or he let go. Then I sprinted like a maniac up a flight of stairs to safety. It's just dumb luck that he apparently didn't pursue me because he probably could have caught me before I got within visual range or earshot of people, REALLY got hold of me, and dragged me back, but he probably realized at that point that, without surprise and leverage on his side, he was going to have to maneuver a shrieking, fighting 120-pound woman down a slippery flight of stairs in a brightly lighted public building entryway full of windows, without falling down the stairs himself in the process.

So it took a fair amount of violent, possibly injurious physical action on my part simply to get a hand to let go of my wrist, and Grasshopper here is contending that you can extricate yourself from a full-on murderous assault non-violently? I just don't see how, but I can cope with bruising that guy's hand being on my giant pile of karmic debt along with the antibiotics, trampled centipedes, and occasional cheeseburger.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:24 AM on November 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


"there is a difference between fights and being a target of sexualized violence. some things are the same, but some things are different. what might be a bad strategy in a fight between men could very well be a good strategy as a defense against sexual assault."

Yeah, fair enough. And I absolutely support nut shots if someone thinks that it's their best choice in the situation. I was just reacting to what I see as an overly sanguine view of them in the FPP. But if a woman's being assaulted, she should feel blameless in the use of every bit of available resistance (or even not, if she thinks it will end worse for her), even if it's fighting "dirty." In fact, especially if it's fighting "dirty." This isn't going to be a Queensbury rules between two equal pugilists and no one should martyr themselves for propriety or even some aloof notion of non-violent principle. From victims of sexual assault that I know personally, they do plenty of second-guessing themselves already, there's no need to add to that by questioning their response.
posted by klangklangston at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


If nothing else this thread has taught me that Buddhists can be just as ignorant and annoying as Christians telling you that you got cancer because it was God's plan. So thanks for that. I guess.
posted by Justinian at 11:29 AM on November 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't think it's a handwave;

In the full context, I believe it is: "Violence is everyone's problem. You won't solve it, even for yourself, by becoming invincible. Schorn won't solve it by mockery either."

This frames violence as a thing it is my duty to solve while I am being attacked - and to throw in the weird straw man about becoming invincible, as if that were the same thing as learning a few basic self-defense techniques. His advice for not being attacked is to avoid ever being in a place where I can be isolated. He sees working for non-violence as flatly incompatible with physical self-defense; many of us do not.
posted by rtha at 12:08 PM on November 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


The knee is the most likely kick to be used in a self defense situation, the most stable and quickest of all kicks. As many people have mentioned, defending the testicles is a basic reflex reaction honed by thousands of years of survival. If you want to attack this area your best bet is to distract attention away from the area.

I have been told that an effective move is to go for the headbutt to the face (point of forehead to bridge of nose). If this connects, it will put most people right out of commission, and if they dodge it, they've leaned back in such a way to open themselves up to the knee-to-groin.
posted by rifflesby at 12:58 PM on November 13, 2014


There's a lot of different targets one can use, depending on the situation. What's really important it's too be willing to use them, and that needs both practice and attitude. But frankly, even trying and failing is better than that "You're responsible for ending violence" bullshit. They just sounds like that "self help" line that was going around a few years back about how anything that happened to to was your fault.
posted by happyroach at 1:19 PM on November 13, 2014


Well, and fucked up as it is, evidence of physically fighting back can help obviate the he-said-she-said bullshit that comes with a lot of sexual assault reporting.
posted by klangklangston at 1:25 PM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Have you ever fucked up a headbutt? It leaves you reeling and is unhelpful if you're trying to run because your eyes are watering like crazy and your head aches, if you didn't actually daze yourself.

I mean, I wish I'd donkey kicked my rapist into the wall but I was so asleep, then horrified, then trying to get away without hurting him because obviously it was a misunderstanding, that doing him proper harm - a groin kick - was unthinkable. Its those situations where willingness is just as important as skill. That is what underlies a lot of self defence and also what undermines it - are you willing to smash your friend's face in? Your dad's? Even when thet are in the midst of assault, a lot of the time the play dead response has taken over from the initial disbelief.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:50 PM on November 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I have never headbutted anyone or anything, including a soccer ball, without regretting it immediately.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:16 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


i want to be clear that while i have utilized a knee to the nuts - i've also more often than not just laid there and taken it, out of fear, out of self preservation, out of disbelief. not fighting back is its own good choice depending on the circumstance and no one should ever be made to feel like they have to explain that choice. my worst awful reoccurring nightmare involves really needing to punch someone to remain alive and my arm just turning to spaghetti and i limply flail my limbs towards my attacker. i can't even get over that resistance to cause harm in my dreams most days. i'm not here telling any victim/survivor that their response was wrong or that i'm questioning why they didn't fight back - i just wanted to add my voice up there to say, yes, a knee to the junk can work and we're too often convinced (usually by men) that it won't work. i'm in no way saying it's what people should have done.
posted by nadawi at 6:24 PM on November 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


I've been in a few fights and to my mind, nothing really beats Monkey Steals The Peach.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:50 AM on November 14, 2014


Reading her Twitter, I just discovered she's Mefi's Own Susan Schorn!
posted by Lexica at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


In other testicular news: The MTA Will Finally Chastise Men Whose Balls Need Three Seats

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 9:25 PM on November 26, 2014


A thread like this pops up in your recent activity a couple of weeks later, you hope it's gonna be someone with new experimental data on the subject.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:30 AM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


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