Monday, July 11, 2005

Real Life - Massachusetts Style

From the Brockton Enterprise:

Women learn to defend against sexual assault

ABINGTON - Nicole Cutter stood motionless in a defensive stance in a corner of the Woodsdale Elementary School gym as two male "assailants" quietly approached her from behind.

Then, without warning, they began shouting, stomping their feet and taunting their "target." One of the assailants then grabbed her around her waist in a simulated abduction attempt.

In a split second the 18-year-old Abington resident managed to break free and began landing punches and kicking at her assailants with a ferocity unknown perhaps even to Cutter herself. Not only did she pass her final exam Wednesday for the Rape and Aggression Defense (RAD) course, sponsored by the police department, she did exactly what she was supposed to do in an attempted sexual assault: fight back, distract the assailant and get away.

Wait a minute! What happened to "just give them what they want and they'll be nice"? Oh, I'm so confused.

Officer Lisa Donelan, lead instructor, said the final class was the true test of what the women had learned during three-hour weekly sessions held over the past month.

"It's such an important program," said Donelan, a RAD instructor since the department began funding the program six years ago.

"It's a different world now," she said. "There is a risk level everywhere."

Unless, of course, you decide to use that argument as a reason for requesting a firearms license. Then, you're just being a paranoid nutjob.

Jess Berry, 18, of Abington, said she enrolled in the free program to prepare for college in the fall. She plans to attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to study nursing.

"I think it's a very good idea," Berry said of RAD, "You have to know how to defend yourself. This is just common sense."

Well, it's not necessarily the best idea, but seeing as she's staying in Massachusetts, there's not much else she can do. Unless, of course, she applies for, pays for, and waits for the police to issue her a Firearms Identification Card that is required by the Commonwealth for the possession of even mace or pepper spray.

(though no one seems to be able to explain why)

There's the "common sense" you were referring to, Jess.

During the final class Wednesday night the 16 women each had to fend off would-be attackers. It was a tense moment for the students, not knowing what to expect. Each student wore protective knee and elbow pads, and a full-face helmet to avoid injury.

Just like in real life.

"I think (self-defense) is a wonderful thing to know," said Ann Yucius, 73, of Rockland. "On the street, predators sometimes think older people can't take care of themselves."

Sorry, Ann, but 'round these parts, it's not just "sometimes". And, sadly, it's not just "older people". We breed complacent, helpless victims here like a friggin' salmon hatchery. But, I do like the way you're starting to think. Now, get yourself to the nearest public pistol range and have a look around.

For the record, I do think these classes serve a useful purpose. Teaching people how to be more aware of their surroundings is something that a lot of people don't think about. They hear their politicians tell them what a "safe city" or town they live in and they tend to let their guard down. The single most important rule of self defense is knowing how to avoid, in the first place, places and situations where self defense might even be necessary.

When my wife and I were dating, she was enrolled in one of these "model mugging" classes. Friends and family were invited to attend the "graduation" to see a demonstration of what the women learned during the class. Like I said, some of what they taught made perfectly good sense, but as part of this "real-life" simulation, the instructor would inform the "muggers" if the "victims" had any physical weaknesses they should watch out for to prevent any injuries. Example: one woman there had a bad back, so the "muggers" took special care not inflict any stress on her back during the "assault".

Just like in real life.

Unless classes like this include a basic introduction to defensive firearms usage, or at least encourage women to responsibly explore the issue on their own (read: not actively discourage it), a lot of these women will walk out of there with a potentially fatal false sense of empowerment.

Not mention a lack of elbow pads or full-face helmets.