University of Colorado Guide for Women Under Attack

The debate about whether students should carry arms on campus is going on here in Georgia as well at it is in Colorado. It's worth remembering that this is the underlying debate to the recent comments by Rep. Salazar. The question at issue is whether students -- and not just female students -- shall be permitted to carry guns on campus, or whether they shall not be.

This is the same student body who reliably gets drunk and wrecks the campus after every winning football game, so I take the issue to be a more serious question than I normally accept gun control arguments to be. This is a group of people who are technically adults, but who are permitted to behave a little less like adults than their cohorts who do not have 'college life' as an excuse. I think we should extend the full rights due to adults to those who prove they will resist that temptation and behave like adults, but the institutions have too long permitted tomfoolery for us to simply assume that everyone will be grown up from now on. Some mechanism needs to be in place to ensure that students who want to bear arms on campus are living up to their responsibilities as adults.

So I'm willing to accept that these students ought to prove themselves to be adults before given the full rights of adults. Nevertheless, the college's actual advice to female students is highly insulting.
1. Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
2. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
3. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them.
4. Don’t take time to look back; just get away.
5. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
6. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
7. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
8. Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
9. Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
10. Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.
Of these all, number seven is the most insulting. Imagine telling a young man of college age, "If someone should attack you, pee on yourself." This is great advice for a puppy who wants to demonstrate submission to an older dog. To a human being, it amounts to "Be prepared to degrade yourself if anyone should attack you."

Most of the rest of the advice amounts to thinking of yourself as a victim, or a prey animal.

Not everyone has it in them to kill their attacker, and that far at least point one is correct. You should look in your heart and decide if you would rather kill, or rather suffer at the mercy of a violent and wicked man. If you would in truth rather suffer, because your moral aversion to violence is so strong, this is a respectable position occupied by Quakers and other religious orders. In this case you are not a victim. You are choosing to accept the suffering that the world sends you for moral reasons of your own. That is honorable, in its way: it is courageous, in its way.

For others, there are other choices. One is to choose companions you trust, on whom you know you can rely. This is the idea, often discussed here at the Hall, of a frith bond: a bond of mutual loyalty, based on an Old English word related to our words "friend" and "free." It is a society of friendship, and it makes you freer than you would be alone. You can travel together in far greater safety, and if attacked, you can help defend each other.

You can learn to fight, and keep yourself ready to do so.

If you are right for it, you can carry arms. A firearm is not the only choice, although it makes particular sense for young women who may be physically weaker than the young men who are most likely to be violent criminals. Learn to use it safely and accurately, and keep it always handy. ("Go not one step out on the road without your weapons of war, for you never know when you may need them." Havamal.)

Under no circumstances degrade yourself. To do so is to invite, rather than to repel, the scornful treatment of the world. To be the sort of person who is prepared to degrade herself to avoid even a serious harm is to be the kind of person the world will not respect. Remember always: Death before dishonor.


Anonymous said...

One of the most depressing cases I've read about was a young woman who was found dead with her emergency whistle still in her mouth. But Rep. Salazar probably never thought that a woman might be in a place without any other people around to hear the whistle and come running to save her.

As for the university guidelines? A pox upon the fool who devised them.


Texan99 said...

I can't make the Daily Caller website work, but per my email feed, here's a gem:

"Democratic Colorado state Rep. Joe Salazar apologized Monday for suggesting some women are so unjustifiably afraid of being raped that they are liable to start shooting wildly. Salazar, arguing in favor of disarming college students, said Friday on the Colorado House floor that women fearing rape may suddenly and haphazardly 'pop a round at somebody.'"

Grim said...

Those are the very "recent comments by Rep. Salazar" I meant to cite. They're getting a lot of attention, which is fair, but it's worth remembering that he was speaking in the context of the broader debate about arms on campus.

On the one hand, I am a true believer in carrying arms (as you well know). On the other, I live close enough to a college town to understand that the environment isn't necessarily always productive of truly adult behavior. That's the institution's fault, over time: any given instance is the fault of the individuals, but the scale of the instances and their frequency suggests an institutional failing.

The right thing to do, then, is to allow those students who can demonstrate that they live according to the standards of real adults to live as real adults. Concerns like Rep. Salazar's are more appropriately pointed at drunken frat parties, or wild celebrations after the basketball tournaments, than women in fear of rape: but the judgment question isn't entirely out of order when we are asking about guns on campus, given the regular instances of very bad judgment that we observe among undergrads. We just need to make sure there is a way for the students of character and good judgment to escape the punishment due to their institutions (and less responsible classmen).

Texan99 said...

Yep, read too fast, missed your link.

At Maggie's Farm, they're referring to the controversy as "Telling Women to Fight Like a Girl."

DL Sly said...

When I read this list yesterday, I almost had to shut the computer down for fear of my head exploding. Although, wrt number 7, I had a friend who once avoided being taken and raped by eating grass. She literally dropped to her hands and knees and started eating grass. The guy thought she was so nuts he left fast and noisy. NOT something I'd recommend, nor implement as I always have some form of weapon on me at all times, but still....

Texan99 said...

I also have a friend who escaped rape by persuading an armed intruder that she had HIV. So her attacker outweighed her, but she had him beat on IQ. You use the tools you've got.

E Hines said...

But Rep. Salazar probably never thought that a woman might be in a place without any other people around to hear the whistle and come running to save her.

Or thought about the woman who, like Kitty Genovese, was surrounded by folks who heard her clearly, but who didn't care enough help--or even to call a cop.

Not everyone has it in them to kill their attacker....

This isn't necessarily a requirement, though. Killing such a thug is a fine outcome IMO, but sometimes it's enough to fight back with sufficient viciousness that enough of a threat is presented, or enough pain is provided that the attacker is driven off.

A Fox News contributor commenting on Salazar's remarks told of her own rape. She was carrying, but the pistol was in her purse, which she dropped when the attacker attacked her from behind. The weapon was unavailable to her as a result. She argued that this meant guns were largely useless. But pepper spray and other such will be similarly situated, with similar results. To me, this is not an argument for not being armed when entering questionable circumstances (if not armed routinely), but a simple recognition that no plan is perfect. It's not an argument for blanket disarmament.

My view is that unarmed self defense is the best option, as the weapons inherent in one's body are both vast and omnipresent. But carrying an additional weapon, whether that be pepper spray, or an edged weapon, a pistol, etc, should be a matter of personal choice, independent of gender and informed only by knowledge of oneself sufficient to understand whether pulling the weapon will mitigate or compound the problem.

The hard part for me has been getting my wife, in practical terms, to a point where she's capable of the viciousness a fight for life requires. I think she will apply that viciousness in a real situation (assuming she recognizes the stakes soon enough--a problem for many of us), but she needs to practice with that viciousness--and she has trouble generating that in training. Which means she won't apply such innate viciousness as she has with sufficient skill and efficiency.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

If your wife wants to make the decision not to be that vicious, in a full awareness of the potential costs she is accepting, it may be the most respectful thing to honor her choice.

My wife, anybody messes with her and the carnage will make national news. But she made that decision a long time ago, long before I met her.

douglas said...

Number 10 sounds good to me-
10. Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate."

The problem is, they want to deny a valuable choice. They ought to listen to their own recommendations.

MikeD said...

On the one hand, I am a true believer in carrying arms (as you well know). On the other, I live close enough to a college town to understand that the environment isn't necessarily always productive of truly adult behavior. That's the institution's fault, over time: any given instance is the fault of the individuals, but the scale of the instances and their frequency suggests an institutional failing.

I understand your concern, Grim, but I think it's deeper than that. These "gun free zones" such as schools and churches do nothing more than force the law-abiding to disarm while the criminals intent on mayhem will ignore the stricture. Saying that this student or that student is not responsible to carry a gun, while likely true, isn't actually within our moral right to dictate. Their right to defend their life and property is not something for someone else to decide. Would I prefer they go through some form of basic marksmanship and safety course? Certainly. I think that's just good sense. But to strip everyone, responsible students, irresponsible students, responsible staff, and irresponsible staff (because, let's face it, I know 50 year old PhDs I would not trust to clean a weapon, and I'd be slightly surprised if you don't as well) of the right and capability to protect themselves from a villain who will certainly ignore the prohibition against guns is near criminal in my mind.

We do not live and practice our rights by anyone's leave in this country. The government does not grant us these rights, and we should fight like tigers when they try to remove them from us. And I am always a fan of the expression, "better to be judged by 12 men than carried by 6."

Grim said...

Well, in this case, the debate is not to strip anyone of the right. It's been illegal to carry guns on campus for decades. The question -- at least here in Georgia, but apparently also in Colorado -- is about how to go about restoring the right.

Now, I can see your point: this is a God-given right, so infringements of any sort on it are dangerous to consider. But all rights are coupled with duties. That's the nature of the beast, though we often forget it. Some rights imply that other people have duties, so that if I have a right to my property, you have a duty not to steal it. Other rights come with duties for the same person, so that if I have a right to marry, I have a duty to respect the forms of the institution of marriage (for example, not carry on with the ladies as if I were single). Rights and duties always go together, by their nature.

What are the accompanying duties here? There certainly are some. Lawfulness, in the sense of not being a convicted felon, will be a necessary condition of carrying arms legally on campus. Do you not also have duty to have learned how to maintain the arms safely, and use them accurately? I would think so.

Nicholas Darkwater said...

@Eric Hines: The contributor of whom you speak is Leslie Marshall, & I heard the exchange as well.

My thought upon its hearing was that, rather than completely disregard the value of a gun because it is tucked into a purse that was dropped, then don't keep it in your purse.

It's more likely that you'll be the victim of a purse-snatching than a full-on physical assault. A gun is concealed in your purse, but it's also insecure.

The purpose of the gun is not its concealability, but its ready access in case it's needed.