Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Men vs. Women

by Annette Dashofy

A few weeks ago while away on vacation, my hubby and I had an interesting conversation over dinner. We talked about crime. Doesn’t everyone discuss crime while vacationing?

In particular we were talking about ways of defending yourself. Or myself as the case may be. Hubby was surprised at how many tricks I knew, considering I’ve never taken one of those self-defense classes. I’ve become aware that my hubby is clueless about the things that go through a woman’s mind. He seemed amazed that I had given any thought to it, never mind that I carry my keys in such a way as to turn them into a weapon were I to be jumped while walking to my car.

I became aware of this cluelessness a few years ago when he called his sister’s house and asked his young niece if her mom or dad was home without identifying himself. She responded that they were home, but couldn’t come to the phone. An appropriate response, right? Never let a stranger know you’re home alone. Hubby continued to harass the girl demanding to know why she couldn’t produce one of her parents to talk on the phone. But he steadfastly refused to tell her who it was. She should know, was his defense when I scolded him about giving the girl a rough time. He also felt, if they weren’t home, she should say so.

Agh! My parents always preached to me to never let on that I was alone. Even now, if someone calls for my hubby while he’s at work, I’ll simply say he can’t come to the phone right now and may I take a message. It’s been ingrained in my psyche.

This leads me to wonder if all men think differently about these things than women? Do parents lecture their sons about the perils of the world? Or are boys believed to be invincible and able to fend off attackers? Is this a wide spread phenomenon or is it limited to my no-one-would-mess-with-me husband?

Women are taught to automatically survey their surroundings, to take note of who is close by and who might be following. Women are taught to leave hitchhikers alone and not offer rides to strangers. Aren’t we?

My hubby never notices other people in dark parking lots. He once gave a ride to a total stranger who seemed to me to be acting suspiciously. “I’ll be fine. He can’t hurt me,” hubby assured me.

Tell me, folks, is my suspicious nature a result of an overactive crime-writer’s imagination? Or do all women distrust strangers? Am I the only one who thinks about things like the best parts of a man’s anatomy to strike at if they threaten me? And is my hubby the only man out there who believes he is indestructible?


Joyce said...

Great topic, Annette!

You're not paranoid. It's a dangerous world and getting worse every day. Just look at the case where the woman and her baby were kidnapped from the Waterworks shopping center earlier this year. Who would think something like that would happen in broad daylight?

I think most men think they can take care of themselves (although Jerry says he'll hide behind me if someone comes after us since I have a black belt and he doesn't!). Everyone, men included, should know basic self-defense. I've always wondered why they don't teach it to kids in gym class instead of stupid things like square dancing.

Any time "yinz guys" want a class, let me know. I'll brush up on my joint locks and pressure points.

Tory said...

I think what you're driving at, Annette, is that women feel vulnerable in a way men don't. In one of my "weirdo California" psychotherapy training programs, we did an exercise where we gave the guys breasts (water balloons in sports bras) and the women a penis (a water noodle, cut to an appropriate size, in their pants.) It was odd how much this changed things. Women definitely started feeling bolder, men more vulnerable.

And then there's the issue of covering the toilet seat with toilet paper before you sit down! I was listening to some big (male) research hancho saying, "No one knows why women, on average, use so much more TP than men." I wanted to call in and say, "I do!"

Annette said...

Wow, Tory, that water balloon thing is wild. Do guys think they can beat someone with that thing in their pants? I don't get it.

Hey, Joyce, sign me up. There is a martial arts studio in the same building where I teach yoga, but I'm too chicken to take a course from that big guy. He'd throw me on the mat one time and I'd burst into tears and run out the door.

Yes, I'm a wimp.

mike said...

Ah-hum, a male responds (well, just one male, with one point of view)...Annette, your husband and I would get along great! Though, after getting burned a couple times, I've grown to be less trusting--even locking the front screen door when at home. Still, I can see a wide gap in perceptions, esp. when Joyce writes "It's a dangerous world and getting worse every day." While I appreciate that you have a special take on the uglier side of life, Joyce, I have to disagree. A close reading of history shows that life a 100 years ago was a lot more dangerous and tenuous than now. It's just that nowadays, with instant and ever-present-in-your-face communications, we get to hear all about everything, usually the bad and ugly.

ramona said...

What a good topic, Annette! I live with three males, and they all think I am paranoid because I always keep the doors locked and I always keep my keys in my pocket. I'm not big and I don't have any formal self-defense training, so hyperawareness is my best hope.

Also, I read somewhere that most people, women in particular, have to be trained to respond to violence with violence. The natural response is not to fight back, but to cower. I have never been in a violent situation, but I have a feeling I'd be a cowerer. Unless you mess with my dog. Then, look out.

Nancy said...

Great topic, Annette! With my newly white hair, I feel even more vulnerable. I've taken to wearing my clogs, so I'm nearly 6 feet tall when I'm out in public. Makes me feel safer. If I clonk somebody over the head with a clog, it's gonna do some damage!

Annette said...

Those could be some killer clogs, Nancy. There's a book title there, somewhere...

I carry a stainless steel water bottle that I think would make a decent weapon if needed. Knee to groin, water bottle to temple.

Ramona, I hear ya about your dogs. I would shift into mother bear mode if anyone threatened my cat.

Gina said...

Annette - Maybe this explains why most murder victims are men, and why they are more likely to fall victims to strangers than women. [This is not based on any statistics, just my take on the news.]

Joyce - There's nothing wrong with teaching dancing in gym! It's those stupid basketball practices that should have been replaced with self-defense. [Sorry. I'm short and clumsy and my all-girl Catholic high school devoted every gym class to basketball so the team could practice. I still detest basketball. I used the mandatory gym class in college to study Karate, which was much more enjoyable.]

Tory - How can anybody feel bold with a water noodle in their pants?

Joyce said...

Gina, I used the dancing example to make a point that they should teach things in school that you actually might use someday. Besides square dancing and basketball, they should also drop crab soccer, jumping hurdles, walking a balance beam suspended from the ceiling of the gym, etc.

Annette, you're missing out not taking that class. It's lots of fun getting thrown to the mat! And it's so satisfying when you can do it to the teacher.

Annette said...

Yes, Joyce, but I have a bad back from hitting the ground after being bucked off a horse. The idea of being thrown down on a mat sets my teeth on edge.

On the other hand, my chiropractor would love to see that happen.

Lee Lofland said...

I'm a firm believer in people, especially women, learning to protect themselves. I also agree that you should carry things like keys and pepper spray for use as weapons of self defense.

However, all the weapons in the world won't protect you if you don't use them. Believe it or not, the average person would probably drop their weapon or even forget they had it when confronted by an attacker. That's why training is so very important.

After several sessions with a skilled defensive tactics instructor a person's confidence level increases greatly as well as the reflex action of using weapons as tools of defense.

I do NOT recommend anyone carrying any type of weapon unless they're trained to use it. I do recommend taking self-defense classes.

Joyce, we should offer a self-defense class for writers as part of the next conference we're both attending. ATF Special Agent Rick McMahon and I are going to present a weapons disarming and retention seminar at the Forensic University. We're going to demonstrate how cops take weapons (knives and guns) from suspects, and how to prevent suspects from gaining control of the officer's weapons.

Joyce said...

Annette, you need to learn how to fall the right way. That's one of the first things we learned in taekwondo--how to fall without hurting ourselves.

Lee, that's a great idea! I really wish I could go to Forensics U. Sigh.

Jena said...

Lee's absolutely right about training - until you've practiced a response to a situation, you have no idea what you're going to do if attacked.

Trick is, it's got to be the right training - and you've got to have the attitude to pull it off:

Four of my girlfriends were in Grand Cayman, walking home late from the bar, when a drunken man approached and started harassing Celine, pawing at her and mumbling, "Come home with me - I wanna sleep with you." She froze.

Jess and Alisa have both taken tae-kwon-do for years, and always bragged about how prepared they'd be if ever attacked. They weren't. They just stood there, as frozen and mute as Celine.

Sara, with no training in self-defense, gave the guy a mighty shove with both hands, knocking him on his butt, and bellowed, "LEAVE MY FRIEND ALONE!"

The drunk picked himself up and staggered off muttering, "Jeez, you don't hafta be so mean about it..."

Anonymous said...

Great blog topic, Annette!

I don't know if it's my crime writing research or because I grew up with overprotective parents, but I tend to be paranoid when it comes to danger. I'm always paying attention to my surroundings and locking my doors, and there are certain neighborhoods and situations I don't get myself involved with after dark. My husband is the same way and sometimes even more parnoid than I am.

I do always feel a lot safer when Joyce is around, though.

Annette said...

Well, if nothing else, you guys are persuading me to look into classes at that martial arts place.

Jena, I've always wondered how I would react in such a situation. I've stood up to bullies in school (even back as far a first grade!), but if it were someone truly threatening or someone who was armed with a knife or a gun, would I be so bold? I dunno.

There was one time I drove my huge gas-guzzling pick-up truck complete with cap and racks into a parking lot without realizing the racks were too high to clear the low ceiling. They cracked and banged against each I-beam I went under until I found a parking space. By then I was so pissed off that if anyone had dared approach me in that dark garage to mug me, I'd have ripped their head off with my bare hands!

jody said...

Take the class, Annette,you won't regret it. And, no matter how big your instructor is, believe me, he'll take great care not to hurt you. My instructor only ever *really* nailed me once, and it was my own stupid fault. We were sparring and he knocked me down with a good side kick. I got up, feeling a little cocky, brushed it off and said, "That all you got, Sir?" HUGE mistake. He clocked me so hard my eyes spun around like a slot machine. Ah, how I miss those days... Joyce, let me know when you do a class - I may join 'yinz' for a couple of rounds.

Annette said...

Oy, my back is aching just thinking about it. But I'm going to jot down the phone number when I go in this afternoon to teach my yoga class. "Yinz guys" may have to keep prodding me to actually make the call, but I will get the number...

Annette said...

Hmm, come to think of it, maybe I should make hubby take those classes with me. Mr. Indestructible. Not.

Gina said...

Lee -
I always think of my Karate instructor's advice when a student asked what to do when the opponent has a gun. Sensei Steve Plato (that's his real name, honest) said, "Hide behind something big, like a car or a house."
- Gina

Joyce said...

Gina, your teacher gave you good advice. I MIGHT be able to get a knife off someone, but I don't think I'd take a chance with a gun. I don't think any of us move as fast as a bullet!

Annette said...

A wise man, your sensei, Gina.

Well, I got the number. Haven't made the call yet, but I got the number.

Nancy said...

I'm telling you guys. A clog works really well, and you don't risk getting stabbed or shot by your own weapon.

Joyce said...

I'm getting me some clogs!

Cathy said...

Contra dance most Friday nights at the Swisshelm Community Center. Dance starts at eight, but the lesson starts at 7:30. See you there.

If everyone in the world danced, we wouldn't need self defense.