Bottom Line Up Front

Dear Nancy:

You’re right, the Washington Post article was a very difficult piece to read. No one in that article mentioned self-defense. The answer to stalking, bullying and terroristic threats and the crimes that follow in their wake is not for women to grow tougher skins.

It is for women to defend our own lives and bodily integrity by any means necessary, including through criminal and civil courts (threatening someone with sexual torture and murder is not free speech), including, especially with handguns, the more so because firearms are a great equalizer. I’m all for women going to the weight room and the dojo and working out seriously, but when you need to stop someone (even if you hope to avoid killing them), an adequate pistol is your best bet.

It is unquestionably true that there are a lot of cowards on the Internet, who will viciously slam someone anonymously, but threats of sexual attack are extremely serious, especially for women. I’m not saying that these female bloggers weren’t right to be scared. They should have been. But their reaction should be not to hide, but to resolve, OK, if you try to torture and kill me, I will kill you. And I’ll make it hurt. A lot.

Whenever we hear that women should not defend themselves aggressively, violently, and above all effectively (thus the use of handguns), we need to ask, Qui bono?

Who benefits?

What is your personal stake in women being terrorized, tortured and murdered?

All those of us who are sick and tired of this, who want some serious long-term remission, need to realize that anyone who tells us we are stooping to the criminal’s level if we engage in effective self-defense is on the criminal’s side. Anyone who says threats of criminal assault are free speech is on the criminal’s side. Just as we need to defend ourselves, all civilized people, men and women alike, need to encourage women to do so.

To engage in aggressive, violent, effective self-defense is not to respond to the murderer with murder, and it is certainly not to respond to the rapist by raping him, or the mugger by mugging him. Rather, it is to grant them the logic of their own choice: they chose to betray civilization by breaching the trust people must be able to have in each other. Even if it never comes to physical attack, “just threats,” a desire not to live in fear is in no way equivalent to the desire to make others live in fear. A desire to hurt another person is in no way equivalent to a desire not to be hurt, and the willingness to effectively defend oneself against assault. Successfully using violence to defend yourself or someone else is in no way equivalent to simple assault, much less murder, let alone torture (of which rape is a species).

Women (and men) have the moral obligation to engage in, and encourage other women (and men) in, armed, violent, successful self-defense in order not only to uphold the value of their own lives and freedom, but also the worth of the lives and freedom of all civilized people, men, women, children, the elderly.

And anyone who says otherwise must be asked, again, always,

Who benefits from your desire for women to be victims, to be afraid, to be weak, to be vulnerable?

What is your stake in the pain and fear and deaths of other human beings?

For it is an inalienable truth that no one who wants any of us frightened, or hurt, or dead, is our friend and anyone who tells us that it is in our best interests to be frightened of, or vulnerable to being hurt or killed is our enemy. Both personally, and of civilization itself, which rests upon the ability even of perfect strangers to trust each other with their persons, lives, and property.

Best,
Erin

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