I didn’t watch the Miss USA Pageant. But this year’s winner caught my attention. Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez, is a 4th Degree Black Belt trained in our organization, Tiger Rock Martial Arts. Her original instructor is a friend of mine and she has been training for over 12 years. I was glad she won and became Miss USA because she has overcome quite a bit in her life and will bring a strong, intelligent message to others. But during the pageant something insane happened. Ms. Sanchez, in one of her answers about sexual assault, stated the following:
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public. But, I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”
The insane part is the response this drew from people around social media and the press in general. An unbelievable number of people, including an editor from Cosmo, made statements that the idea of women learning self-defense or strategies to protect themselves was icky, unnecessary, not a solution, not part of the answer, a bad idea, somehow victim-blaming, or a number of other absolutely idiotic messages. This sent my blood pressure through the roof and I’m NOT going to be quiet about it.
You see, I’ve worked with women for over 25 years teaching them how to defend themselves and how not to be a victim…..and many of them have had to use the skills I’ve taught them. I have worked with thousands of rape and assault victims. I have friends and loved ones who were victims. And most importantly, there are many women and families who I care about and don’t want to see have their lives shattered by sexual assault.
The statements about women not needing self-defense are flying all over and may be doing an incredible amount of harm to women, families and our communities in general. The idea of being against women taking steps to protect themselves from sexual assault is the equivalent or worse than saying we shouldn’t lock our doors, shouldn’t teach kids to protect themselves from abductors, and shouldn’t have banks put our money in vaults. The haters, who are vilifying Ms. Sanchez, are basically saying women shouldn’t train because we can prevent the assaults by making more laws and teaching men not to rape. Perhaps they missed the facts that rape is already illegal and that there are countless ways men are told or taught not to rape. In a utopian world, this would work but we don’t live there—-we live here in a place called reality where we need real solutions that actually help people. Society as a whole needs help reinforcing values and acceptable behavior and, at the same time, women should be empowered by learning the skills it takes to stay safe because statistics are clear on the threats against them. Doing otherwise increases the risk of women we care about becoming victims. That’s not something I am willing to allow…not on my watch…not now…not ever.
So, I congratulate and thank Ms. Sanchez for her message that more people need to hear. To my communities and the people I care about, I ask you to simply do two things. First, tell anyone and everyone you can that women absolutely do need to get training to protect themselves and not be a victim. Second, if you are looking for a place to get training for a group or someone you care about, email me at Jeff@paradigmimpactgroup.com. We have seminars, lessons, and classes designed to empower and protect women here in Nebraska. Please don’t wait until it’s too late.
by Jeff Dousharm, President
For additional information, contact Jeff Dousharm at Jeff@ParadigmImpactGroup.com.