Do women need different self defense advice to men?

There are things that women deal with that men don’t. So unfortunately some of the best self-defence advice you can give a guy doesn’t work for women. At least not straight out the box. Fortunately sometimes tweaking a solution can work. This is one of those times.


Anybody who disputes that women and men are different needs to read a biology textbook (on page 97 of every human physiology textbook ever written is a paragraph on the biological need of women for the toilet seat to be down, for example). This is where so many male instructors go wrong – they have a great message to share, but don’t tailor it to their audience.


Let’s look at situational awareness. The industry standard advice is to be in condition yellow (that’s the colour that means you’re aware and paying attention). First of all, very few people bother telling you what you’re supposed to be aware of. What does a Bad Guy look like? What does being set up for a crime look like? What does it look like when someone evaluates you as a potential victim?


The problem women have

The problem for everybody is that they get this jolt of adrenaline and confidence – “Be aware! Yes. Condition yellow. That’s me baby!” They now know they need to be aware! Still no sign of “of what?


The problem for women is that they typically have a lifetime of avoiding being aware (well, a lifetime minus 13 years or so). And this much programming is hard to overcome, which is why many women only take this stuff seriously after they’ve had shit go wrong.


Shit you notice when you don’t have a car

So when we were first married, my wife and I didn’t have a car. We’d walk to the shops, or we’d catch a lift with a friend if we needed to go anywhere far. One of my wife’s friends was a blonde. I’m sure she was sexy in her youth, but at this point in life she was mostly past that. And every time we were in the car and stopped at a red light or a stop-street, if there was a car next to us with a guy in it, he would look over. Every single time. Either at my wife, her friend, or both (this even happened when it was just the not-pretty-anymore friend and me).


And not once did the blonde friend (or my wife) ever look around or give any indication they’d noticed.


Situational awareness

One of the first indicators that you’re being set up for a crime is someone watching you. And these 2 women had trained themselves not to notice when someone looked at them. That’s your problem right there.


How many women have done this to themselves? I’m willing to bet a lot, if not most of them.


girl frumpy

A girl dressed like this, with the low self-confidence to match, believes that no one will ever notice her (so of course she dresses to self-fulfil that prophesy). To further her self-imposed reality she cuts out any situational awareness so she can’t see everybody not looking (and tell herself that no one even looked at her today). This also cuts out her ability to look for BG’s.


girl skimpy

A girl who dresses like these 2 wants everyone to look at her (ditto self-fulfilling prophesy). She now has to try distinguish between every male around her staring at her out of lust and the 1 or 2 potential BG’s staring at her as a potential victim.

Also, if she does think she spotted a Bad Guy, she can’t risk looking at him – he might not be a BG, and if she looks at him he’ll think he’s got the green light to approach and deliver a stupid pick-up-line.


P.S. How you dress does matter (just not the way you think).


Women need different “Bad Guy criteria”

Women need different criteria for spotting Bad Guys. Here are my current “hack” criteria:


How to spot a Bad Guy:

Step 1: Look around for people who are paying attention to what’s around them. These are potential BG’s.

Step 2: Any of these people look at me (vs glance over me), they’re a BG.

Step 3: If this person approaches, then it’s game on.


There are more specifics, more criteria and some nuances, but that’s the base model.


Unfortunately women tend to go around doing this:

Step 1: Don’t look around at all the douche bags.

Step 2: Worry about whatever feels most panic-inducing at this moment.


OK, step 2 is “gender neutral”, but you get the idea.


The tweak

So the tweak I’m going to propose is actually something that applies to men as well. It’s that beautifully obvious (but only after someone points it out) advice from Marc MacYoung:

– Bad shit tends to only happen in certain places. Fringe areas.


Most stranger-crimes (different from acquaintance-crimes) happen in places that

– are away from immediate help (car parking lots; quiet streets/alleys; “closed” rooms at a loud party)

– have few witnesses

– have regular traffic (read: have potential victims walk through it on a regular basis, a self-renewing target pool to choose from)


So the tweak I propose for women is not to start by looking around for “switched on” people who are checking for victims, but rather to start with noticing when you are in a fringe area. Once you get the knack of picking up on being in a fringe area, then you can make yourself pay attention to the people around you.


This way you can avoid noticing all the “jerks” that stare in the shopping mall, but still pick up on the 3 guys that look at you in the parking lot that you’ll have to walk past to get to your car (Hint: no you don’t, it’s called taking the long way around to avoid the possible danger, and simultaneously create space so they have to approach you, confirming the danger and buying you more time to act instead of react.)


Does this solve all women’s self-defense needs? Not quite hey. But it’s a decent step in the right direction.

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