Dealing with Violence Against Women & Girls

One of my epiphanies writing Renegade centered on the role of violence in the lives of our children, both young and old. I’ve always wanted realism to be an essential part of my writing, stories, and characters, but I didn’t realize the degree to which violence was intertwined with the plots I seemed to instincitvely develop until I finished Renegade. Equally important, however, was a foundational value embedded in my stories: Violence doesn’t win the war. (For more on this, see my interview over at Writers4Higher (October 6, 2012).) Violent tactics might win a battle or two, but the ultimate solution has to involve either neutralizing the violence or avoiding it altogether.

This is why martial arts figure so prominently in Warrior’s Soul and Renegade. Martial arts is used as a self-defense technique, not a tool of aggression and domination. Even in The Pirate of Panther Bay, while violence is an unavoidable part of the plot–this is a pirate story!–it’s the love story and Isabella’s self-reflective discovery of the objective value of preserving human life that trumps the violence in the end.

In the modern world, however, the most practical way for individuals to defend themselves against violence, particularly bullying, is through training in self-defense. And martial arts provide the most comprehensive and effective way to develop the mental and physical skills necessary to neutralize the threat of violence.

This, of course, begs the question: Why don’t we see more people studying martial arts? Only about 1% of the US population has participated in some form of martial art. Moreover, most of these students are men and boys. Why don’t we see more girls studying martial arts?

I may be a good researcher, but I don’t have all the answers and I was curious. So, I convened a Roundtable consisting of some very acccomplished female martial arts practitioners and instructors and started asking them questions. The first question–why don’t we see more women and girls studying martial arts–is now live on my web site (www.srstaley.com). I will be posting the discussion on four additional questions throughout the winter and spring.

Hopefully, this roundtable will be begin a much broader discussion on the role of violence in our society and the ways we need to defend our selves against it for the purpose of defeating it. We owe it to ourselves and our children, and especially women and girls.

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