Getting Strong: Self Defense For Women

In the early 1970's Chicago’s Loop Center YWCA implemented a variety of anti-rape programs to combat societal beliefs and institutional practices that negatively impacted women. Self defense for women was one of these programs. In this video, comments by men, women and interviews with women self-defense instructors, Carol Whiteside, Sue Gould and Andra Medea, document prevailing attitudes about women’s ability to defend themselves from physical attack. The video shows techniques taught in the women’s self-defense classes at the Loop YWCA.

00:00Copy video clip URL Onscreen text: “In the early 1970s, Chicago’s Loop Center YWCA instituted anti-rape programs including classes in women’s self-defense. This video was made in 1976 by the women of the Loop YWCA Video project using the first portable video equipment widely available to independent video makers.”

00:17Copy video clip URL Title Card: “Getting Strong: Self-Defense for Women.” 

00:30Copy video clip URL Interview with a woman who says that she never goes out alone at night because she’s afraid. Another woman says the same thing. 

01:08Copy video clip URL A man says that he thinks it’s a shame that women are afraid to go out at night. His suggestions are for more police officers and for the women to “be more careful.” 

01:31Copy video clip URL A woman talks about only going out at night with a male friend to accompany her. 

01:56Copy video clip URL A man discusses the reasons why women can’t defend herself as easily as a man can. A woman muses about how she might respond to being attacked. Another woman discusses her fear of being assaulted on the streets. She doesn’t think she could defend herself if she was attacked. A man asserts that a woman needs a man to defend her. 

04:03Copy video clip URL Self-defense instructor Carol Whiteside, discusses reservations held by women about learning self defense. “I think that women definitely are the weaker sex because we’ve been taught to be the weaker sex.” 

06:13Copy video clip URL A self defense course demonstration and discussion among the group of why they joined the class. 

07:15Copy video clip URL Instruction in the class, as the leader shows the women how to attack and defend. 

09:50Copy video clip URL Discussion among the class.

10:18Copy video clip URL More instruction and demonstration of defense techniques: how to respond if someone grabs you from behind or from the front and how to respond if you hav been knocked onto the ground. 

13:32Copy video clip URL Group discussion about the benefits of learning self-defense, even for someone who’s small or relatively weak. 

14:25Copy video clip URL Sue Gould, self-defense instructor, talks about the weakness and passivity that women are traditionally taught. She discusses ways to be aware of your surroundings and to be prepared to defend yourself, including using your keys as a weapon and carrying a whistle with you. 

16:28Copy video clip URL Whiteside discusses the “surge of self-confidence” felt by women who learn self defense. 

17:36Copy video clip URL How to “psyche yourself up” so that you can do what you need to do. How to overcome the attitudes that will make a woman feel like a victim.

18:46Copy video clip URL Instructor Andra Medea discusses the need for women to learn self defense.

20:06Copy video clip URL Whiteside discusses the confidence gained from self defense classes in women’s daily lives. The need to change men’s attitudes towards women. 

21:36Copy video clip URL End credits: “By Eleanor Boyer, Rhonda Stein. Thanks to Stella Rangel, Sue Gould, Carol Whiteside, Andrea Medea, Vicki Elsner, Betty Zielinski, Marie Riordan, Jo Ann Elam, Barbara Scharres, Anita Stiegler, Barbara Bradley, Terry Downs. Video Project, Loop Center YWCA, Chicago.”



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