TFH self-defense workshop: They’re Not Asking For It

By Kehaulani Jai ‘16Staff Writer

So we’re at Scripps. Some would say this automatically marks us as driven and liberated young women. None would say that this makes us impervious to sexual assault. With this in mind, at orientation we’re given a rape whistle, a brief lecture on what is considered sexual assault, and a warning that we’ll find it extremely expensive if we unnecessarily blow the whistle (take that either way). What we’re not given are the skills necessary to defend ourselves if we are in a situation where we find ourselves physically threatened.

Still, to what extent is equipping ourselves with self-defense skills our personal responsibility? Also, is there any merit in blaming victims of sexual assault for irresponsibility? Perhaps you yourself have caught yourself thinking that a person is victimized in part because of how they dress or act. The Scripps CLORG It Ends Here works to address these misconceptions surrounding sexual assault. For Vice President Emily Hampshire (’15), though survivors should never be held accountable for being sexually assaulted, sexual assault itself is “complex” and “multi-faceted.”

To Hampshire, “responsibility is the key term.” It is our responsibility to “understand that self-defense isn’t just physical,” but it is the responsibility of others to understand “boundaries and consent,” and the fact that victims weren’t “asking for it.”

Indeed, many mistaken beliefs stem from a misunderstanding of what constitutes sexual assault and what indicates actual “consent” to sexual interactions. For instance, an intoxicated person may agree to intercourse, but intoxicated individuals cannot truly give consent. In this way, it is imperative to reemphasize the complex nature of sexual assault and the importance of supplementing self-defense workshops with preventative efforts, educating potential victims and perpetrators about the complexities surrounding interpersonal violence.

Fortunately, the Sexual Assault Awareness and Resource Committee, SAARC, recently created by Dean of Students Rebecca Lee, works to recognize and prevent sexual assault on campus. Just a few weeks ago, SAARC sent out an email promoting upcoming self-defense workshops. Seeing as students are bombarded with emails, ranging from mail digests to upcoming flu shot locations, it’s very easy just to delete it and move on. However, this may just be an opportunity worth revisiting (or retrieving from the trash folder). “They seem like well-rounded classes that will address both the verbal and physical components of self-defense,” says Hampshire.

Though a three-hour class may not put an end to sexual assault, it can definitely be what Hampshire refers to as a viable “starting point.”

Scripps students can sign up at the Sally Tiernan Field House for these one-session workshops, offered on Sunday, Oct. 14, or Sunday, Oct. 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Also, if you are interested in becoming involved in discussions surrounding sexual assault, please contact It Ends Here through President Lily Foss (’13), Vice President Emily Hampshire, or Secretary Anna Marburger (’15).