FEMFACTS
18 Jan 2019

Can you learn to beat a woman? According to Men's Health Russia, yes you can.

Men's magazines are a well-known source of stereotypes and sexism. But an article instructing men on how to fight a woman is a whole new level.

Editorial Team
Olena Churanova NewsMavens, Europe
Can you learn to beat a woman? According to  Men's Health Russia, yes you can. - NewsMavens
Fighter, PixaBay

WHAT’S THE CLAIM?

The Russian edition of the men's magazine “Men’s Health”, popular both in Russia and countries from the Commonwealth of Independent States, has published an article with the headline “How to defend yourself from a woman: the practice of self-defense”. The author is an instructor at the club “Self-defense 100%”.

Besides self-defense instruction, the author argues that men were previously forbidden to beat women because of “the pledge and principle of survival in the wild world”, but that today’s women are different, and you need to learn how to defend yourself from them, otherwise, they “will go through you”.

A short summary of the article is given at the beginning:

“This text is not about how to learn to beat defenseless girls, but about how to neutralize a woman (or is it no longer a woman?) who represents a real threat to your life.” [sic]

Then the author tries to explain why it “was” taboo to beat a woman, and employs several sexist stereotypes in the process:

“The reasons are obvious. A woman is a mother, an object of love, a goddess, a mistress and a keeper of the home. Naturally, we are taught that there is a ban on physical aggression towards such women.”

But, he continues, today’s “modern city dwellers sometimes create situations that are not typical for archaic culture and gender roles in general”. Such atypical examples for the author are women in the military, women in mixed martial arts, powerlifting and bodybuilding, and even businesswomen who have dared to put their career above their family.  

Then the author becomes more specific. He mentions women from villages as the first exception from the “taboo”, because:

“...alcohol, drugs, a low level of culture and life in general can distort the feminine essence so much that “village wenches” will not only stop an elephant at a gallop, but they can easily attack less aggressive girls.”

And women who go to nightclubs are exempt as well: “Maybe you think that girls there do not fight with each other?” But according to the author's claims, they do and you need to learn how to defend yourself.

Speaking of self-defense, the author also  warns that you should not underestimate women, especially those who fight with men because they “know perfectly well how and where to hit you”.

After giving advice such as “Step over the frameworks of your culture” [sic], “Learn passive defense”, “Explore options for passage behind the back”, the author summarizes:

“What's next? Depends on the situation. Maybe you just push away the fury and get the distance to escape, or maybe, after your bear hugs, she will slow down a bit. Who knows?”

At the end, the author recommends using any contact sport or going to a self-defense club where you can learn how to "beat" women, and get used to "beating" them. No, you didn’t misunderstand, not to "defend" yourself from a woman, but to "beat" her (while in English “to beat” can also mean “to defeat”, the term used here, “бить”, in Russian means only to beat in the sense of “strike repeatedly”). “Otherwise, she will go through you”, the author concludes.

WHAT ARE THE FACTS?

Writing about self-defense techniques is quite legitimate. It’s ok to learn how to defend yourself from aggressive people, regardless of their gender -- or yours. But publishing an “instruction  manual” not only on how to defend yourself from a woman, but how to beat her, is a dissemination of hate speech. The explanation that due to the “changing of social roles and gender stereotypes” a modern city dweller is forced to learn to defend himself from women and even get used to beating them, cannot serve as an argument and justification for the use of violence.

Furthermore, the author displays willful ignorance of the real violence which women experience -- and it is overwhelmingly not related to “fights in nightclubs” or the attacks of “village wenches”.

Statistics on male violence against women are disturbing and show quite clearly that there are many men who don’t need to be taught to “overcome the taboo of hitting a woman”. According to the World Health Organization's Global and Regional Estimates of Violence Against Women (2013), it is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. And some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Another report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014) stated that an estimated 13 million women in the EU have experienced physical violence in the course of the 12 months prior to the research; this data corresponds to 7% of women aged 18-74 years in the EU. If there’s a topic that needs to be addressed here, it’s certainly not an instruction on how to instigate more violence against women.

Finally, the author describes a woman as either “a mother, an object of love, a goddess, a mistress and a keeper of the home” who should not be harmed for those reasons, or as a drunken “fury” and a “village wench” who deserves to be beaten because she has stepped outside of her traditional gender role and lost “her feminine essence”. This is yet another manifestation of the attitude that violence is an acceptable response if you disapprove of a woman’s behavior or the way she expresses her gender identity.

CONCLUSION

We rate the overall tone of this article as biased reporting, and the misleading representation of gender based violence as manipulation of facts, used to promote violence against women. The way women are described based on whether they conform to the presumed “feminine essence” we rate as a display of biological determinism.

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