On Sexism And Victim Blaming Inherent In Personal Safety Training
This post was first published here - thanks to author for permission to cross post.
I can't tell you where I work. Well, I could, but then I'd have to kill you. Lets just say that I'm a superhero with a daytime alter ego. Yes, let's go with that.
Anyhow, even superheroes have day jobs and have mandatory training to do.
This week it was personal safety training.
Apart from the fact that I am likely to ignore all of it should an incident arise, I had some issues with the content.
For instance, if you break down on the motorway you should wait on the embankment. Yup, I remember this from my driving theory test.
But, wait! What is this? Unless you are a woman alone and it starts to rain? Then, apparently, you should sit in the passenger seat so it looks like you are waiting for a man to come back.
I shit you not.
Oh, and make sure you have change for the phone as you might be lulled into a false sense of security by your mobile which might not have a signal.
And this doozy. Make sure you turn your handbag round so that it is facing inwards. That way it will be harder to steal from.
I really wish I was making this up.
If you are in a dangerous situation a mobile phone should not lead to a false sense of security because you should be phoning the police, not the office in this situation. The signal or lack of it would not be an issue as the emergency services are on a military satellite. Which is why you would see 'emergency calls only' when you have no signal.
I am very concerned that there is advice on women alone in the first place as statistically they are in no more danger than men. I am doubly concerned that the advice to sit in the passenger seat if it is raining rather than the embankment is there. This is an incredibly dangerous thing to do, especially in the rain where visibility would be poorer. They may get wet sitting on an embankment but they won't get ploughed into by a lorry or car. The better advice may be to make sure you carry a raincoat.
The advice on handbags smacks of victim blaming. This would identify someone as a potential victim and increase the likelihood of an attack.
However, none of this comes close to the victim blaming language that meant I took nearly as long doing the feedback as I did the training.
Deep breath. Here we go.
'We can inadvertently provoke aggression by the way in which we communicate with others.'
'Where you are faced with violence it is possible that you have not recognised the signs early enough or taken appropriate measures soon enough.'
'Don't retaliate either by word or deed, someone with a short fuse can easily be pushed too far.'
'Try to stay calm if provoked. Panic can show and be seen as a sign of weakness.'
'Defend yourself as a last resort.'
Bad enough that I have to work twice as hard for half the recognition, (just ask Wonder Woman, we often moan about this while out shopping for tights) but to be painted as something delicate that needs protection from rain but if I'm attacked then it was something I did?
No. Just no.
Looking forward to the response to my feedback.Download this post as PDF? Click here