Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How Women Fight: Female on Female Violence

Most self defense courses for women focus on male-on-female violence.

To be complete, however, I'd like to see female-on-female violence more deeply integrated into our self-defense training (as well as female-on-male violence, but that's another topic I'll look at another time).  Specifically, how women initiate fighting and how to cope with it.

WHY women fight are often very different than why males do, although the common factors, such as the perp being among the victim's intimates and friends, still seem to hold true.  Here's a couple of interesting looks at the reasons behind female-on-female violence.


Why Women Often Fight Each Other

And here's an older study on the topic: A Case–Control Study of Female-to-Female Nonintimate Violence in an Urban Area

But let's look at how the conflict happens and unfolds by watching three different real-life fight videos.  Most of these videos are age-restricted and there's some pretty bad language, so it's not safe for work (or small children):

Click HERE if you can't see the video

Click HERE if you can't see the video.

Click HERE if you can't see the video.

Here's what stands out to me:

Women will spend a lot of time "monkey dancing" verbally.

I think that's because that's how we "jockey" for dominance in society.  We don't typically do it physically; we do it verbally and through our relationships.  It takes us a long time to work up to physical violence.

Therefore, verbal de-escalation techniques seem to be something that would be of real value when dealing with this scenario.  Getting the fight to end - as it's already begun when the argument starts - to end without violence would seem to be a worthy goal.

After all, the easiest fight to win is the one you don't get into, right?

You can see this long verbal monkey dance happen in the famous "Shovel Girl" fight as well, by the way.

It's not always easy to see when the first strike will come

Most of these women keep within close range, verbally fighting, with their hands down (generally).  This is kind of a confusing posture, as it does not seem to indicate physical attack is imminent.

The actual strike - a push or a grab - seems to come without much warning.  Given that women are not typically socialized to fighting and violence, I think this is pretty important to know.  When you look at male-on-male real life fights, there seems to be a bit more warning.  I think it's because males in our society are "trained" (not necessarily formally but within our cultural rules) to fight based on certain rules of behavior (a so-called "fair fight"), whereas women are not.

The hair grab comes early

Getting grabbed by the hair is going to happen when women fight women.  Women seem to go for this early and use it as a "handle" to hold the other person in place to punch/kick them repeatedly.

There are a few "staged" fights with women fighting women out there, and one thing I've noticed is that when they aren't seriously fighting, there is FAR less hair grabs, or even none at all.  When women mean it, they will grab the hair if they can.

Coping with a hair grab seems to be priority one - after de-escalation, evasion, or escape, of course - of women-on-women violence and fighting.  This would have to include being pulled to the ground and kept there via hair grab in practice.

After all, where the head goes, the body follows - and you can see that truism in each of these fights.

Not seen so much here, but another factor for women to be aware of is grabs to long dangling earrings and necklaces.  It would be an obvious easy target in a fight if you're wearing big earrings.

Also - the head lock and hair grab are often combined.  So defense against a head lock is one thing that needs to be practiced too.

The hair grab goes to the ground

Quickly, the pair of fighters go to the ground, usually in relation to the hair grab (one pulls the other down, the other pulls the hair puller down with her, as it's hard to keep your feet if you won't let go of the other person).

This makes ground defense - and getting up again - critical business.  Once you are down, not only does the other person mount and hold you down with the hair grab as a handle to keep inflicting damage, but it leaves you very vulnerable to others joining in on the beating.

Strikes tend to be slaps to the head

While you do see a few closed-hand strikes, most strikes are open-handed.  Perhaps this is a way to try to unconsciously mitigate the damage you're doing - or maybe it's just because closed hand punches to the head HURT and you find that out very fast if you aren't a trained fighter.

You also see very few strikes to the torso - it's almost completely relegated to the head.  Even when they kick, when they can get it, they go for the head or upper body (which is incredibly dangerous for the other person, and is an escalation to potentially deadly force).

Once the fight happens, it's hard to break up

Women don't have a way of "honorable" fighting that men typically do, at least, not in the culture I live in.  Men can fight, disengage, and go away with honor.  Women typically can't. Thus, it's a lot harder, once the violence begins, to find the "honorable" way out for both participants.

This means that physical altercations between women go on a lot longer than they otherwise could/should.  This means if you find yourself in this fight, it's best to get out of it as quickly as possible (but that's true of all violent conflict, I think).

Final Thoughts

What you see here are three instances of mutual combat - fights - versus pure self-defense scenarios.  I would submit that a good training in verbal self defense, and in de-escalation, could have prevented the violence in all three of the fights seen here.

Once commonality between the three videos seen here are that they take place in group settings, and much of the time, those around them are encouraging the participants to escalate the violence.  This is common in all fights; but it's interesting to watch how that unfolds.

Additionally, in today's world, people will whip out the cell phones and hit record for the chance at YouTube glory versus trying to calm down a potentially lethal situation.  While this is helpful for people who study violence - lots of examples of it that I could choose from for this blog post, even with some pretty narrow search parameters  - I'm dismayed at what it might mean for our society (or parts of it) as a whole.  It's honestly a bit depressing that people do this, and even more post it for entertainment (versus educational) purposes.

So what did you see/learn from the videos above?  I'd like to know YOU thoughts about how female violence happens and how to survive it from a self-defense point of view.