SFU Women’s Centre hosts self-defence course

Participants will learn about “self-defence, awareness, conflict de-escalation, and on how to protect yourself in the event of an attack.” - Phoebe Lim

The SFU Women’s Centre is bringing back their popular women’s self-defence workshop series, WENLIDO, taught by Diane Jacobs. 

All self-identified women who are part of the SFU community are invited to take part in this workshop series, running now and for the next three weeks. The course is “pay what you can,” with a price range of $20 to $50.

Leah Horlick, the Women’s Centre coordinator, explained that the centre had been running these workshops each semester for years, and they have recently had a lot of requests to reinstate them.

The four weeks of workshops take place on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., having started on June 17, with the last of them on July 8 on SFU’s Burnaby campus. Horlick explained that over the course of 20 hours, participants will learn about “self-defence, awareness, conflict de-escalation, and on how to protect yourself in the event of an attack.”

As Horlick explained, “It’s incredibly important for women to feel empowered to go out at night and to own their space. We live in a world where the reality of violence against women is really an epidemic. Especially as young women, it’s important for us to hold that awareness, and hold it in our bodies, knowing how to protect ourselves.”

She spoke about the detrimental messaging women receive in regards to violence and where their responsibility in it lies. “The messaging we get about violence is that we shouldn’t wear short skirts or have our hair in a ponytail, so someone can grab it when we’re out for a walk at night.

“Really, the messages we should be receiving are don’t perpetrate violence, it’s important to respect one another and not to touch each other without consent,” she asserted. “I take issue with the kind of messaging we get about violence and prevention — that it’s all women’s responsibility and it’s about what we wear and what we do.”

Because of these negative messages that bombard women constantly, the Women’s Centre aims to counters them in these self-defence workshops, while also creating a safe space where women can feel both empowered and free of fear.

“The advantage of a program like this is that we break down the myths around slut-shaming and victim-blaming, around when violence happens. Regardless of when, or if, you encounter violence, you will have the skills to protect yourself. [These workshops] eliminate these myths we have about who receives violence or who deserves violence based on what they were doing or where they were,” Horlick elaborated.

The centre takes a strong stance that no one deserves violence regardless of where they are or what they are doing. Eliminating these stigmata is a goal of the self-defence workshops, along with providing the skills in case an incident does occur.