This was originally posted in full at According to Hoyt in July 2014 and the comments got rather lengthy.
I am a weapon. When the time comes to strike, the tool I happen to use is not the weapon, the squishy gray stuff between my ears is. In aid of keeping my weapon sharp, I have done various training and thought exercises over the years, and I know that in order to be ready to defend myself and others, I occasionally need to refresh this. Like, as the truism above states, playing a mental game of situational awareness. Locate yourself in the room. Where is the entrance? The exit? How else could danger come (the windows?) and how can you escape. Standing and doing battle may not be the optimal choice, depending on what is coming at you. But most important, be aware of your surroundings. Out for a walk? Walk straight, with head up and eyes moving, rather than looking down at your feet or grocery list or book…And if you are listening to music, go with only one earbud in, not both, so you can hear your surroundings.
This awareness is vital to planning the next move. Not long ago I was performing at a party in a bad part of a nearby city. Now, I’m all sweetness and light at these things. But partway through the party I became aware that there was a situation, and I immediately started preparing for what might happen next. Best case scenario, which is ultimately what did occur, was that the cops came, all settled down, and there was no escalation. Worst case would have been for the teenage boy who was chased down the street being accused of theft to have returned with armed re-enforcements, a not unlikely situation in that area. Me? I planned to stuff the little kids under the sturdy picnic tables I was set up next to, where they would be out of the line of fire, and either join them, or stand guard over them. All I could do. Even had I been carrying (and I’m not saying I wasn’t) I wouldn’t have done anything to draw fire on them.
Not everyone wants to use a gun as their tool when the time comes. Some are uncomfortable with them, for whatever reason. But as a 5’2” female, I know that a force-multiplier is essential. I haven’t the training to use a sword, nor is carrying one every day a reasonable option. I always have a blade on me, but I’d rather not have an attacker that close-in thankyouverymuch. The firearm is a very good option, but again, it’s not always available. So… what else can you use as your tool, when you are being the weapon.
Walk with me through my (ok, this isn’t all real, but if you’re thinking about breaking in, know that it’s a very bad idea at Chez Sanderson) house… Behind the front door is a battleaxe. It’s lighter than the double-bitted axe I once used to fell trees and split firewood, but you aren’t a green spruce trunk. Also in this area are various garden tools like shovels, and a bamboo Bo which belongs to my beloved and I need lessons with…
A little further, you made it into my kitchen. Boy, are you in trouble now. A knife block with my favorite 10” santuko I keep razor sharp, my 12” cast iron skillet (bonus if it’s hot and full of grease) – these are just the beginning. Made it past that? I’m sitting in the office. I have a firearm within arm’s reach, and also a coffee carafe that is usually at least half-full of near-boiling liquid (don’t make me waste my caffeine). Bedroom? Well, to begin with there’s a shotgun…
What about outside the house? Sarah pointed out when we were talking about this post that she has defended herself with shoes and dictionaries. I often wear hardened teak hair-sticks, and yes, you can fly with them… I checked with a TSA agent once (didn’t mention I was thinking of it as a weapon). Anything loose and heavy can become a projectile. What matters is: did you think of it beforehand? Because you most likely will not have the time to think when the attack comes.
The human brain is a funny thing. We react to situations often without concious through, acting on patterns formed before we were aware, as an adult, of what we should do. Some of us reacted to bullies with fists and feet, others crumbled under the onslaught. Look at your own patterns, and if you need to change them, set out to reform bad habits into good ones. Like looking around the room and making a plan for what you would do if it hit the fan with little or no warning.
I may be little, soft, and feminine, but mess with me and mine, and I will mess you up. It doesn’t matter what tool I choose, I am the weapon, and I will have no qualms about using it on you. The myth of the weak, helpless female is more busted than anything Jamie and Adam have ever taken on. Stop acting like a twit and trying to make everyone else take care of you, instead of being responsible for yourself. If there’s a threat, deal with it.
I’m not advocating a violent response to every situation. If, for instance, I am being hit on at a convention by a male I’m not interested in, I can choose one of several options. I can simply smile faintly and move away until I am out of his radius. If he follows, then I remain in a public place, preferably making my way to a group of friendly faces (I do not foolishly put myself in a situation where I am outnumbered and alone). At this point I can clearly and calmly inform him I’m not interested. If I must escalate, that he is making an ass of himself. Frankly, I’ve never gotten to this point, however, any rational person will then disengage. If he’s not rational, then and only then do you need to resort to violence should he lay hands on you. He’s not harassing you, child, if all he’s done is look at you in the way you don’t care for.
There are situations where it becomes very difficult to protect oneself. I have been in them, including the party I mentioned above, where to do so might have meant endangering little ones. I won’t do that. Sometimes we must choose what is best for a situation based on others, not ourself. But in order to be able to make that choice, you have to know beforehand what you would do. Protect the women and children? Yes. Protect those who refuse to protect themselves? I don’t know…
So. Make a plan. Practice the plan, with lots of thought, and involve your family and anyone who lives with you. Make it into a game, to help little ones get into it without teaching them undue fear. Prepare, and may the boogieman never come through your door. But if he does, be ready to open fire with your weapon.