Quarantine and grief have opened up a space for me to sit in self-reflection and really look at many different aspects of my life. One of the things I’ve been really focused on is taking responsibility for my part in certain situations from my past. I’m not into blaming or shaming myself for anything that has happened as I truly believe that nothing goes wrong and as painful as it is everything is actually working out for my good. But I do see “areas of opportunity” as I call them (a throwback term to my corporate days). This is a softer way to reframe areas of your life that truly need improvement. Sometimes by looking at things as an area for you to become stronger in as opposed to as a mistake, that in and of itself can sometimes be the lesson.
For me, I’d like to take it a step further. As I mentioned in a previous article, I have been molested several times in my life. I truly believe if I had the skills to know how to protect myself physically, I would not feel like I didn’t have control of a situation at any given time. That is not to say things cannot still happen and it is definitely not to absolve men of their responsibility to behave in healthy ways. It is also not to imply putting myself purposely into harmful or unhealthy situations. But it’s more to say that if something catches me unawares, I’d be prepared to defend myself accordingly and appropriately. This doesn’t just apply to situations of potential sexual assault. In this day and age, in particular for Black people and the physical attacks that are sometimes meted out on us by white supremacists and racists as demonstrated by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, we need to know how to protect ourselves. Black woman, which includes Trans women without exception, for sure should know self-defense. We as women, Femmes and NB (Non-Binary) people need to ensure we are always aware of our surroundings. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many videos and personally witnessed instances where women have been abused and no one either helps them or renders aid to them. As a Black woman, I understand it is unlikely that I will receive help from bystanders if something unfortunate were to happen to me so it is important to me to ensure I know how to defend myself.
This really applies to all women of every ethnicity, no matter what makes you up. Violence against women is at an all-time high. Violence against Trans women has always been highly problematic; it continues to be extremely problematic. Violence against Indigenous women, which similar to Trans women has always been an extreme problem, is now front of mind for the Western world as it has always been for Indigenous people. Rallying cries for investigations into missing and murdered Indigenous women across both the U.S. and Canada are now ringing out loudly all over social media platforms and by celebrities. There is a global awareness of things in a way there never was before. If there was ever a time to push for real systemic change due to social pressures on systems of oppression, this is the time. As we do that work publicly, we must also privately train ourselves as women and femmes to defend ourselves if ever the need arises.
While I sincerely hope and pray that as men heal themselves and become more aware of their actions and address the unhealthy ones through therapy, I am wise enough to know that not everyone wants help or wants to heal themselves. So as long as there are people who make a conscious decision to not be healthy, I must protect myself at all costs and at all times. Knowing the people I am around and being aware of the situations I put myself into is extremely important for me to be accountable to myself on. Self-reflection doesn’t have be a blame and shame fest. It is completely what you make it. If done correctly, it can be a space of deep learning by observing and reflecting on how things happened and why they did. Then, once put into proper perspective, we can assess how to make healthier choices in the future. They only way we’re going to grow through this situation and be better versions or ourselves when this is all over is to do the inner work first. I find that as you first synch up emotionally and spiritually with your Source, you then are guided and inspired to take action in whatever way honours you. So as always, it is an inside job first.
Self-defense classes should be taught to everyone and at a very young age to encourage strength, sense of self, discipline, body positivity and boundaries. Hopefully as my generation raises the next one, they will learn from our unhealthy choices and without having to experience them, will make better decisions in the future.