Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Juliana Wall, Staff Writer
Lady Gaga recently released a music video to her new song “Til It Happens to You”. In it, men sexually assault four women and the video intensely portrays the pain, shame, and traumatic experiences the women go through. By the end, however, the women are shown they are not alone and they are still loved. With over 15 million views on YouTube alone, the video is very moving and it sheds more light on a very real issue: sexual assault.
We live in world where women are taught how to not get raped. How messed up is that? Women are told not to wear “slutty” clothes, or to carry weapons, and to even buy certain products like Date Rape Drug Nail polish, all to protect them against sexual assault. The movement against rape culture is growing, however, women of all ages should at least know how to defend themselves.
Cedar Crest College’s R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) program is offered every semester to female students and faculty campus wide. R.A.D is a nationally ranked self-defense course that was developed in 1889 and can be offered in separate classes to women, men, and kids across the country. When I first saw the emails, I immediately signed up because I had wanted to take a defense class for long time and this was a perfect opportunity.
During the first class, we looked at everything from definitions of terminology, to risk reduction, to breaking down the rape mentality and we covered all of the main questions and issues when it comes to sexual assault. They provided the class with manuals that had all of this written out as well as pictures and instructions with the physical self-defense moves.
I immediately noticed that I started using some of the risk reduction tactics when I was out either on campus or in the surrounding area. Not to say I do not feel safe on the Cedar Crest campus, but rather, those tactics were realistic and are a great way to prevent any kind of unexpected surprise due the fact that it is mostly simply being aware of your surroundings and trusting instincts and intuition.
The next two classes were held in Lees Gym, where the instructors demonstrated all of the different techniques, which included using the hands for defense and weapons as well as different defense kicks. In addition to the moves, we were told to yell “no!” and “get back!” every time we used a tactic because the number one reason why girls and women are so easily abducted, is that they freeze and do not verbally yell or physically fight back enough to alert others of the situation. Learning these moves and going through them repeatedly helped to get them into my mind and muscle memory. The instructors emphasized on the importance of practicing these defense techniques often to keep them fresh in our minds.
When it came time for the simulation in the final class, of course, I was nervous. Who wouldn’t be with a man coming at them with all kinds of padding on, knowing that he would grab on. It was strange because once I felt him grab me, instinct took over and whether I realized it or not, I was using those techniques they taught us. Kicking, punching, and yelling came naturally to me and doing these simple, yet effective tactics are more than likely going to get someone out of this kind of situation. Adrenaline kicked in and my only thoughts were to get away from him any way possible. I had on protective gear and the instructor did as well, so I could use any of the techniques we were taught without fear of injury. Honestly, it was kind of fun to do the simulation, but also eye opening because in a real situation, there will not be padding and the guy will not be a defense instructor. I knew it was a simulation and it was not real, but it felt real in that moment. However, instead of being terrified, I let instinct take over and I used what the defense class had taught us to get away.
Even though I believe that sexual assault is horrible and needs to end entirely, I still think it is critical that girls and women of all ages should know how to defend themselves. We would all like to think that the chances of a sexual assault happening to us are slim, but in reality, it can happen. It happens when you least expect it and even knowing just how to lower your own risks can mean the difference between being safe and being attacked. In no way am I victim blaming, but knowing risk reduction and self-defense can and will increase the safety of the individual, whether that is preventing the assault or knowing how to get away.
I learned a great deal from the R.A.D course and I enjoyed it too because it was fun to take with friends and now I feel better about my own safety. Sure, I am not going to be walking around somewhere alone at night, but I feel better equipped to handle an assault situation if it does occur and that is the goal of the R.A.D. program. Sexual assault, unfortunately, is not a simple problem with a simple solution. I greatly hope one day we finally end it, but until then, it has fallen onto the shoulders of women to step up, speak out, and defend not only themselves, but also fellow women. Ideally, every single woman should go through some type of defense class, but I know that is unrealistic.
So, to the women of Cedar Crest who can and want to, sign up for R.A.D next time it is being offered or find a local defense class. The bottom line is: women cannot depend on someone else for protection. We must defend ourselves.