Recently my Facebook wall was covered with “Me Too” hashtags.
I support good intentions of the campaign. Awareness is important. The hope is that awareness will change the events that take place in reality, but often leave out how.
“Me Too,” like other campaigns about harassment, lacks this substance. Status updates feel good, but they change nothing. So instead I propose something you may have thought about before. We can petition the BC government to implement a province wide change to education for highschool age women. You might like this idea a lot once you read further.
As a disclaimer, you will note that I am proposing a solution, not just raising awareness. I am a man and this is a women’s issue, so my credibility is zero. It’s up to women to decide what to do with this. There is probably an improved version of this idea available, and that’s okay with me. I trust this starting point will allow a smart reader to take it somewhere better. So hang tight, one sec. I’ll explain.
I recently read about a woman walking through a crowded bar with a male friend when someone cat called her. He didn’t know that she had trained to the black belt level in a martial art. She pivoted to face him and get in his face without hesitation. Details aside, he was soon holding his beer with two hands, a makeshift barrier between them. Scared. Her male companion didn’t even get involved.
Note that while this particular woman also lifted weights, and probably did other activities to make herself more imposing, I believe that confrontation is a bad idea if you have another option. With the exception of people who have professional training, the right choice is almost always running away. It’s just good to have self defense as an option when you need it for your own physical safety.
Now with some context, we can think a bit about what has been tried, and what we can do differently in the future.
I study influence. As a student and practitioner, I know that social proof is a powerful tool for some things, but it does nothing for others. Why?
You feel shame when you act against the norms and values of your tribe. Rape and sexual harassment is illegal and socially discouraged. Yet it still happens because rapists are motivated towards their actions in spite of social values. So social proof doesn’t work here. We don’t need it though, because there is another tool that works much better.
Fear. Especially when it’s presented visually. Do me a favor and keep this in mind for a moment while you read ahead.
My proposal is that women petition the BC provincial government to fund martial arts education.
Make it either a voluntary or mandatory part of highschool gym education for girls only. Make two years mandatory in the middle school years, then optional in highschool, but still free. This will ensure that some women end up as brutal asskickers. (Boys can have the martial arts funding in their last year of highschool. This is unequal on purpose.)
The first one or two years of funding will show no results. Then by year three there will be a viral YouTube video of a girl just slaughtering some asshole. Picture a teenage girl delivering a knockout punch or a headlock. Like that. Women will cheer and some men will probably ridicule him.
And that’s just the first time it happens.
As self defense education improves, women beating the shit out of would be assailants will become more frequent, and more visible.
Within five to ten years, videos of women from BC kicking ass will be all over the Internet. It will be common knowledge among men here that at least some women trained self defense. It doesn’t even matter if only about 20% of women achieve prowess with a martial art. Fear generally keeps you away from even perceived risks, so we can go without all women becoming accomplished practitioners. Eventually, it will simply be common practice among men to keep your hands to yourself.
The very worst outcome of trying this solution is that we teach women a valuable way to stay fit and healthy, while preventing at least a few incidents. But suppose it does work well. Women here would be a leading example for the rest of Canada.
Since it is a women’s issue, I feel that my credibility here is zero. Men have no skin in the game, no personal stake, and so they should not be arguing for or against this particular idea. My opinion is that if women decide they want to try this solution, and petition the government successfully, I support that. Most other men would agree, especially after I remind them that they may eventually have a daughter (like I just did).
So if you got this far, and you are a woman, find two or three others who posted a “Me Too” Facebook post. Invite them to read this post or tell them about it yourself.
Politicians monitor social media for political will. Outrageously, they can’t do anything with expressions of pain directed nowhere. But they surely understand that half of their voters are angry — and this issue does make you angry, doesn’t it? That an entire generation of women have gone without a fix to an old, old problem. And anger gets people to the polls.
So if they think supporting some easy-to-implement education funding will get them votes, what might they do?
It’s a little known fact that emailing and phoning your local representatives actually works. Voter behavior is studied well. Everyone in politics knows that when people are calling the office about something, it’s time to pay attention. But effort stops a lot of people, so I’m even doing the contact info retrieval for you.
Go here to the BC government’s website and call them. Go here to find the BC Liberals office phone number. Go here to contact the BC Conservatives. And go here to contact the BC NDP, who are the most important because they currently hold the most power.