Woman Plus...
  N 1, 2002
    Usually a word "self-defense" provokes an association connected with martial art. But it is important to defend oneself not only physically; it is perhaps as useful to remember about the protection of one's rights and interests. Today, while thinking over their situation and life strategy for the next years, many enterprising women don't even suspect that our great-grandmothers chose the similar way; they called it women self-defense. The dictionary of gender terms which is to be published next spring, acquaints us with this conception. The dictionary article is written by Olga Anatolievna Hazbulatova, the Doctor of Science, professor.

Women self-defense

Women self-defense - a self-dependent enterprising activity of woman personality for the purpose of the promotion of her status, protection of her rights and interests, self-actualization in different social spheres.

A famous English scientist and statesman John Stuart Mille was the first to have used the term "self-defense" to woman mode of life. Upholding the claim of enfranchisement to women the writer wrote: "The right to elect those who will rule us is a kind of self-defense which everyone must use even if he is never to rule himself".

For the first time the conception of women self-defense was discussed in 1916 on the pages of the magazine "Women messenger". The opinions of the readers (women and men) were unanimous: women need self-defense to become a "valuable political and social group in their state" ("Women messenger", 1916, 3, p. 61). To achieve it women were proposed to unite into the unions, societies, to show independence, self-respect. Economic independence, equal rights and freedoms with men, participation in legislation activity of government bodies, physical conditioning, independence from husband's power were called important components of self-defense. Gender education in the family, involving women in the sphere of professional activity, raising the level of their self-consciousness, ability to rebuff in case of violence, including on the part of a husband, were distinguished among the conditions of the realization of the principle of self-defense (look through the "Women messenger". 1916. 4-8).

These ideas did not loose their topicality a hundred years after. Under conditions when a woman has lower status characteristics than a man she must resort to self-defense as to the means of protection of her rights and interests. It is considered that the main components of a modern conception or woman self-defense are:

  • enterprising activity in order to get common and professional education;
  • activity in order to get additional source of income;
  • initiative in the sphere of professional activity (opening of own business, etc.);
  • improvement of living conditions by herself or with the help of the family;
  • mastering the skills necessary for autonomous behavior in the sphere of private life (an ability to sew, tin groceries, etc.);
  • physical maturity, health reinforcement, giving up bad habits;
  • psychological training with the purpose to strengthen the will, to acquire a habit of making the decisions by herself;
  • keeping high vitality;
  • self-organization in the unions in order to protect her interests;
  • joining the social and political activity;
  • self-realization in the spiritual life.

Thus, self-defense stands out as a condition of development of woman personality.


Literature: Mille D. S. About woman obedience: translation from English SPb, 1896, Kecherdjy-Shapovalov M. V. Women movement in Russia and abroad. SPb, 1902; Hvostov V. M. Woman and human dignity. M., 1914; Woman messenger. 1916. 3,4,5-6,7-8,10; Hazbulatova O. A. Self-defense and development of woman personality // Social feminology. Collected scientific articles. Samara, 1997.

O. A. Hazbulatova