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ERIC Number: ED522559
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 221
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-4516-1
Exploring Racial and Gender Identity for American Women of African Descent through Self-Defense Training
Speidel, Lisa
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia
Research has shown that one of the most effective responses for women to thwart sexual assault is through competence in physical fighting techniques. Various studies also reveal multiple benefits beyond the actual defensive moves learned and the impact of women's self-defense classes on gender identity; however, the primary focus has been on white women or else little attention has been paid to the question of racial identity. In addition, previous research has not included an analysis of how race and gender intersect within the experience of self-defense training. During my career as a self-defense instructor over the last seventeen years, I gradually noted the limitations of my traditional white feminist approach. This discovery challenged my training in which sexism and the study of racism comprised separate fields of scholarly examination. The purpose of this qualitative study is 1) to explore the process of racial and gender identity development of five American women of African descent each of whom participated in a semester-long Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Self-Defense class and 2) to examine how the class influenced the intersection of these identities. The participants' stories clearly reveal how the self-defense class affected gender identity in various concrete ways; however, until the interviews took place it was not as apparent how race intersected. I point out throughout the study how the intersection of gender and racial identity is experienced as an integrated part of the participants identities, particularly when discussing the concepts of vulnerability because of race and gender, being a "strong Black woman," and body image. Although the influence of self-defense instruction on racial identity is more abstract, I contend that because the two identities intersect, the training has a significant effect on racial issues. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States