I have my degree in psychology, and a psychologist from my university once told me that what women fear more than anything is rape, and that what they crave more than anything is security. As the writer of Damsel in Defense and a feminist, it’s a hard concept for me to accept.
I’m sure it’s an idea that many of us recoil from because it seems like a pretty unflattering thing to say about our gender. What? We don’t fear global warning? Our legs getting cut off? The end of the world as we know it?
All joking aside, he had interviewed hundreds and hundreds of women, and concluded that women fear being violated more than anything else.
I don’t have to dig deep to come up with several reasons this may be true. It is an intensely personal violation. It is painful, and it proves to us that we are unprotected. It leaves us feeling helpless. It infringes on a woman’s right to choose even the most basic things for her body, like who enters, and who can possibly leave a child that she will have to figure out what to do with. I know many rape victims.
I think we can all agree that when we sink into our lover’s arms, we feel safe and content in a deep way that is unsatisfied by anything else. This safety comes from a contextually secure place of mutual respect, love, and protection.
But it’s also important to create a safe place within yourself. One that can never be taken away, even by rape. If you are ready, and you fight as hard as you can when the worst happens, and you make the right choice about how hard to fight because you have prepared, thought through, and trained, you will find you are safe wherever you go and whatever happens to you. Even if the outcome is devastating you will know a litte more that it wasn’t you. You will know more that you were prepared and did what you could. And in preparing for the worst, you will hopefully begin to understand that you are no worse for what has happened and that you did nothing to deserve it.
When your life is threatened, it’s natural to want to submit. While this often may not actually help you with an attacker, it is your choice. And if you choose to do it, rather than innately do it from shock, you have a better chance of not shaming yourself later. You will know you made an educated decision to save your own life. The best decision you could make in the moment, based on extensive preparation.
It seems morbid to prepare yourself for the worst. But think how much safer you would go to bed at night, having fully explored the things that can happen and the meanings you would attach to them. Imagine the worst, and how you would feel about yourself after, and if the place you reach isn’t loving, work until you could see yourself in a loving way no matter the outcome. Rape is not the fault of the victim, but that doesn’t stop victims from blaming themselves. Prepare yourself to think critically about rape. Work hard to think of (and study) all possible ways to avoid, escape, and deal with the “unthinkable” things that happen every day, everywhere.
Again, if you love that peaceful feeling of safety when you are promised protection, when you are in your loved one’s arms and they are in yours, or when you are safe under your blankets behind a secured door, make it a priority to create a safe space in your head as well. One where peace comes from knowing that you care about yourself enough to protect yourself in every way, to work hard for it, as you would want someone else who cares and has promised to care for you to do. Create a space where you can figuratively go under the blankets, unafraid because you have someone protecting you with everything they have: You.
Thanks and stay safe all.
That is what being a damsel in defense means to me. A full woman, capable, knowledgeable, fully aware and sentient. Feminine and defensive. Acknowledging female vulnerability, human vulnerability, and defending it. When I thought of the name for my blog, damsel in defense said it all for me. I’m still a woman, or a girl, and I don’t have to give that up to be safe. But being a damsel doesn’t put me in distress. It puts me in defense.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on damsel in defense are just my personal opinions and not professional or legal advice.